Ohio’s Tiana Jones (one of 8 Black female PGA Professionals) on diversity in golf: ‘That’s what drives me’

Tiana Jones, left, PGA pro and director of instruction at Topgolf in Independence, works with Kevin Briola during a lesson last week.

Jones recently was named to the 2021 PGA LEAD Class, the organization’s leadership development program.

Focused on growing the game, especially among minorities and women, Jones dreams of starting her own golf academy, and those who know her believe that will happen.

“It’s just a prayer in the sky, but she’s got all the credentials to do it. All I can do is encourage her with words,” her father, Paul Leonard Matthews Jones Jr., 72, of Alliance, said in a recent phone interview.

“As long as she keeps those big dreams in front of her and continues to reach for those goals …  She’s not afraid of hard work, from what I’ve seen,” Powell said by phone.

“I can definitely see that,” said John Lesieutre, director of operations at Topgolf Cleveland. “As she continues to build her name and her brand, she will have the ability to do many things down the road as she continues to get recognized throughout the PGA.”

Growing up with golf

Jones has played golf since she was 3 and said she won her first tournament at age 7. But she also tried softball, soccer, volleyball, basketball and track.

Her only instructor was her father, a retired teaching pro who gave her a set of plastic clubs and was amazed at her coordination. Her mother, Freddie Ann Jones, a retired registered nurse, was the champion at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in Alliance for over 20 years until Tiana beat her. Tiana and her older sister Tiara, who also competed in golf, tagged along on rounds with their parents.

At Alliance in 2009, Tiana became the first African American to win the Ohio girls state high school golf championship. She captained the women’s team while at South Carolina State.

It wasn’t until Jones graduated with honors with her criminal justice degree in 2014 that she staked her future on golf.

She was working at a country club in Orangeburg, South Carolina, when she met a young woman going through its apprentice program with the goal of becoming a PGA Professional. The woman explained that did not mean someone who plays on the PGA or LPGA tours, but someone who works behind the scenes on the operational side.

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