High School

Waterbury high schooler Laniah Moffett chosen to play alongside PGA Tour Champions player at famed Pebble Beach course

Waterbury golfer Laniah Moffett’s email notification displayed one word: “Congratulations.”

She didn’t need to read the rest – her face had already lit up. It wasn’t until she opened the email that Moffett realized exactly what it was for.


She had been selected as one of 78 golfers from First Tee programs around the country to compete with a PGA Tour Champions player in the Pure Insurance Championship. The tournament will take place at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links in California from Sept. 20-25 and will be broadcast on the Golf Channel.

Soon after opening the email, the rising junior at Crosby High received a call from Mark Moriarty, the Executive Director at The First Tee of Connecticut, asking if she’d received the news.


“I was speechless,” Moffett said. “I was so happy.”

It was the second time she’d applied for the opportunity. After being denied the previous year, Moffett once again answered the required essay questions, and gathered her recommendations from teachers and coaches while maintaining her sub-five handicap.

“It’s really exciting that I get to play a really well-known course. You hear so much about it,” Moffett said. “It’s a dream to go (out) there and play and I never thought at 16 (years old) I would be going to California and playing at Pebble Beach.”

Moffett first picked up clubs at the age of five through the First Tee program – which aims to integrate the game of golf with life skills, preparing kids for the world ahead of them. Her parents wanted to expose her to several different sports like basketball and soccer – and golf, of course – when she was young.

“Eventually they were like, ‘Let’s stick with it and see what happens,’” Moffett recalled. “And we ended up staying with the First Tee and I learned so much more than just golf skills. (I also learned) life skills and how to create goals and take care of myself.”

Eleven years later, Moffett’s sights are on Division I golf.

She began playing tournaments at 10 years old and hated it. She didn’t like going out to the course but the game grew on her and just two or three years ago Moffett began to realize her potential.

She began playing better, realizing a future in the sport was in the cards. Last year was one of her best.


Now, her top three schools are Duke, Clemson and Stanford.

Moffett competed in the Hartford Women’s Open Monday and Tuesday, July 25-26, and shot 7-over-par for sixth place and second in the 18-and-under age group. She will play in the Northern Junior Championship at the Great River Golf Club in Milford August 2 and 3 before traveling across the country to play at the course which has hosted 13 USGA Championships and six U.S. Opens.

“I think it means so much that I’m from New England and I got picked for this because it shows that people from New England and kids from New England – they can play just as good as somebody from Florida who plays all year round,” Moffett said. “We practice and put in so much more work than them because we’re taking a season off and we’re pretty much starting over in the spring. It means so much to represent New England and Waterbury itself.”