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Notah Begay III is one of the most recognizable voices in golf today. He’s served as an analyst for Golf Channel and NBC Sports for the last eight years, but he almost never reached that point because of a drunken mistake from his PGA Tour playing career.

In 2000, Begay was arrested after hitting a parked car with his vehicle outside an Albuquerque bar. He was later charged with aggravated drunken driving because his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, and he had to spend seven days in jail. After some soul searching, Begay vowed to make a monumental change to his life, and it allowed him to excel in golf and in his current endeavor.

Notah Begay’s PGA Tour career

Notah Begay was arrested twice for DWI and sent to jail in the middle of his golf career, but he hasn't had a drop of alcohol since.
Notah Begay calls the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club for Golf Channel | Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Notah Begay might be more well-known for being Tiger Woods’ college roommate at Stanford University, but he also had a successful PGA Tour career in his own right.

Begay won two times on Tour as a rookie in 1999. He won the Reno-Tahoe Open in August and triumphed at the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill two months later. Begay won more than $1 million in prize money during his rookie season alone.

In 2000, Begay won back-to-back titles at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and the Canon Greater Hartford Open in two consecutive weeks. Talk about a hot streak.

Despite the blistering start to his professional golf career, Begay didn’t record another win after the 2000 season. In 2013, he walked away from the PGA Tour to become an analyst for Golf Channel and NBC Sports.

Begay spent seven days in jail for a drunken mistake in 2000

After his impressive rookie season on the PGA Tour, Begay jeopardized his career with a poor and dangerous decision the following year. In January of 2000, Begay was arrested and charged with aggravated drunken driving after he struck a parked car in the parking lot of an Albuquerque bar.

Because of another DWI conviction from five years prior, Begay had to spend seven days in jail for his second infraction.

“This isn’t the type of incident that’s going to quickly be forgotten,″ Begay said after his release. “It will be written about leading into a story. It will always be a part of my career.″

After some deep thinking, Begay said disappointing those he loved is what he regretted most.

“That’s one of the most unfortunate results of everything that’s transpired in the last two months,″ he said. “I regret it because I let a lot of people down. I hope it’s just a blemish on what’s going to be a very successful career.″

Begay went on to win two times during the 2000 season and put together a lengthy career on the PGA Tour. But he couldn’t have done it without making a major change to his life.

Begay made a monumental change to his life after his brief stint in jail


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Notah Begay was given an instant wake-up call from his seven days spent in jail. He knew he had to make a monumental change to his life if he was going to be successful in golf. After being released from prison, Begay vowed to get sober and cut alcohol out of his life. He hasn’t had a drop since.

Since that decision, Begay made millions on the PGA Tour and now serves as one of the most well-known analysts in the Golf Channel lineup. Begay’s life could’ve spiraled out of control in 2000, but he refused to let his vice consume him.