Monarch Elementary School Principal Anita Maness is standing on the sixth hole of the Old White TPC golf course in White Sulfer Springs, West Virginia when a storm rolls in, forcing a delay in her son’s golf tournament, but the rain can’t dampen her spirits.
This isn’t just any golf tournament, after all, it’s the PGA Tour.
Anita’s son is Michael Maness and he is making his first start of the Tour after qualifying through an 83-player Monday qualifier on the 7,037-yard Cobb Course in Daniels, W. VA.
“Michael’s dream was always to become a PGA Tour player,” said Anita. “I can remember him doing a project when he was in the third grade in the gifted and talented program. His career goal, even then, was to be a PGA Tour player, so it was set a long time ago!”
Anita added that it was at a much earlier age when Michael was first exposed to the sport.
Her husband, David, introduced Michael to golf at the tender age of two years old.
“David was an avid golfer,” she expressed. “He found Michael a little club and started taking him with him to the golf course.”
David was also Michael’s high school golf coach and played an instrumental part of the athlete’s development.
His junior year of high school, Michael was one of four golfers that represented Team USA in Japan and by the late 1990s, was one of the country’s top-ranked junior players.
He went on to enjoy a successful collegiate career at The University of South Carolina before pursuing a career in professional golf.
While competing on the eGolf Tour before PGA Tour star, Bill Hass called on Michael to serve as his caddy.
Maness withdrew from an eGolf event to join Hass on tour and shelved his own golf game until the two parted ways last year when Michael picked his own clubs back up to rejoin the pro ranks as a player.
“He gained a lot of knowledge while touring with Bill,” said Anita. “All the different courses he’s been on, the practice and getting used to being in front of all these people—It’s all helped him. This is just an amazing experience. The whole thing is just major.”
Michael shot a 69 in a pre-qualifier last Thursday on the Cobb Course to tie for fourth and be one of 52 players in a 91-player field to advance to Monday’s qualifier.
Paired with former USC teammate Kyle Thompson and Steve Wheatcroft for the first two rounds, Michael went off the 10th tee at 8:50 a.m. on Thursday.
The first tee in the penultimate group at 2 p.m. on Friday, before which, Anita said that her family received some unexpected support.
“We had a big surprise,” she laughed. “Patrick Wilkinson (Pro golfer out of Myrtle Beach) showed up with his family. Those friends we’ve made along the way and grown to love have really helped. All the people who’ve called to wish us good luck, it just really means a lot.”
So, Michael’s hard work and dedication is paying off and his dream is coming true—But he isn’t the only one who’s living out a fairytale.
“This has been Michael’s lifelong dream,” said Anita. “And we’re sort of living out our dream too.”