Anthony Adelizzi is chasing his own dreams at Methodist University, but whether he realizes it or not, his inspiring story is encouraging others to do the same.
The Methodist University junior had the opportunity of a lifetime in April – speaking at the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund annual banquet in Everett, Mass. But to fully grasp why it was a moment Adelizzi and his family will never forget, it is important to understand the path he took to get there.
As a five-year-old from Yarmouth, Mass., Adelizzi was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and nonverbal learning disorder.
“As a child, I wasn’t able to read social cues very well and I had a difficult time making friends in high school,” Adelizzi. “But like anything, it’s like riding a bike. It’s going to be hard at first.”
Adelizzi credits his parents, John and Dianne, who were able to surround him with psychologists, psychiatrists, and an educational team that could help him navigate the disorders. But he also believes the sport of golf played a pivotal role in providing the confidence he needed.
“I started playing golf when I was three-and-a-half years old, and a lifelong family friend Bob Miller was able to be my coach and mentor,” he said. “Golf’s always been there for me. It’s taught me a lot of life lessons – honesty, etiquette, having fun, and building friendships with other people.”
Adelizzi quickly realized golf was more than a game. In fact, he wanted to make a career out of it. After a conversation with MU alumnus Zack Sweet ’15, who works at Cape Cod National Golf Club, Adelizzi learned about the 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and personal connection between professors and students.
He applied to Methodist University and quickly had his eyes set on the PGA Golf Management (PGM) program.
“When I found I got into Methodist, which is one of the toughest PGM programs to get into in the country, I was ecstatic. I was very happy, Bob was happy, my parents were happy. I heard it’s the Harvard of golf so it’s really a great place to go to,” he said in a Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund video.
Since starting classes in 2021, Adelizzi is flourishing on Methodist University’s campus – majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in PGM and a minor in Marketing. He was even one of 200 students to make Methodist University’s President’s list – which honors students with a 3.90 GPA or better.
This summer, he’s even working as a PGM intern at Hyannisport Golf Club, a spot he has worked at part time since 2018.
“Everyone at Methodist University is kind and polite, and I’ve been able to make friends very quickly. It’s something I’ve never experienced in my life before,” said Adelizzi. “The professors have been fantastic. They’ve been extremely helpful when it comes to my disability accommodations. They’re there for me and they’re very animated.”
Although Adelizzi does not play for the men’s golf team, he is required to pass a 36-hole playing ability test to earn a PGA membership. While dealing with a back injury, Methodist University’s PGM staff have been quick to assist him in any way possible to ensure he has the best chance of passing eventually.
“[Head Men’s Golf Coach] Steve Conley and [Head Golf Professional] Alex Jones have helped me through each step of my golf game journey. They’ve helped rebuild my swing so I can eventually pass my test. Meanwhile, [PGM Director] Brock White advocated with the PGA of America to provide me certain accommodations like a golf cart and breaking up the test into nine holes a day,” he added.
Adelizzi’s persistent spirit is one of the many reasons he was selected to speak at the Ouimet Scholarship Fund annual banquet – which hosted nearly 1,500 guests as it honored former world No. 1 golfer and four-time major champion Ernie Els. The Ouimet Scholarship Fund awards millions of dollars in need-based scholarship to deserving young men and women who have worked at Massachusetts golf courses.
Although Adelizzi said he was nervous to speak in front of a large crowd, Adelizzi delivered.
“With every challenging decision, there are valuable lessons to be learned,” he said at the banquet. Motivate yourself, get back up, and always listen to the people that care about you. Finally, if you ever meet someone that seems a little different, a simple hello can go a long way. It certainly did for me. Go Methodist golf! We’re chasing championships again!”
Representatives from Ouimet Scholarship Fund went on to present Adelizzi with a plaque and a commitment to pay 100-percent of his financial need for the 2022-23 academic year.
“Anthony Adelizzi’s inspiring story resonated with all in attendance that night, in many different ways,” said Colin McGuire, executive director of the Ouimet Scholarship Fund. “He highlighted the power of kindness, the power of mentorship, the importance of family, and the impact that working in the great game of golf can have on a young person. The Ouimet Fund is proud of all that Anthony is accomplishing and that he will be an ambassador of our organization for years to come.”
Once he graduates, Adelizzi hopes to work for a golf club company as a golf club fitter, but more importantly, he hopes to make a difference in people’s lives by sharing his story.
“I’m hoping someone with autism might see my story and get inspired by it. If I can do it, you can do it. That’s the biggest thing to me,” he said.