SPORTS: One reporter shares his experience learning how to play golf

Flies buzz around my head as I sit in the outfield. My thoughts wonder, waiting for the action that will never come. I focus my ideas on golf and the fun that I am missing out on. My heart yearns to get off this field and spend my hours on the golf course. I tell myself, “Why should I be here if I do not want to be?” The next day, I decide to make the change.

With COVID-19 becoming a prominent concern in the U.S., many team sports, including baseball, came to an abrupt halt. Baseball was a game I have played since childhood, and now that I was unable to participate in the sport I enjoyed so much, I felt unmotivated. My brother and I have a batting cage in our backyard that we worked out in, but soon the workouts that used to be fun turned into miserable hours. Without the ability to play baseball games, my family turned to golf to fill our free time. That is when it all changed.

Golf gets a bad reputation for being boring, with some going as far as saying it is an “old person” sport. The countless stereotypes take away from the possibilities and opportunities the game can offer. Another obvious concern for new golfers is the amount of time it takes to play golf – some rounds take six plus hours to complete. The commitment scares people off, but I enjoy the long hours on the course. It is my time to relax, let go of my responsibilities for a few hours and take a deep breath.

Golf is also a game of failure. When I started, I could not get the ball in the air. I got discouraged and frustrated. I resented playing at times because I hated hitting bad shots, I hated failing. I did not understand that failing equals growth, and the only way that I was going to get better was if I kept trying again. I still fail present day, but with my changed mindset, that failure fuels me to work harder. It motivates me to continue getting better and better each day.

To have talent is one thing, but to have a good work ethic is another. For all sports, it takes one’s ability to get up and grind, to put in the hours, when they do not want to. Although that work will take one’s blood, sweat and tears, that time should be seen as fun. When it came to baseball, the work felt like work, and I did not see why I should continue playing if I was not enjoying my time on the field. On the other hand, I enjoy putting in the time and effort on the course. I embrace the 7:00 a.m. alarms for 8:30 tee times on Sunday. I enjoy spending hours on the range after school. Each shot represents an opportunity to do better – to learn from mistakes – which is something I love.

Coming into the high school season, I had never played competitively. I felt lost in a world that was unfamiliar to me. Many of the guys I was competing against had been playing since they were young, and I had been playing for not even two years. Since I have a large passion for the game, my growth and success has been rapid and constant. I got off to a hot start, earning myself the number two spot on the team.

My first time on the tee box, however, was unnerving. My ears rang, and my heart beat double. All I prayed was that I made contact. Even during the last match, I still had butterflies in my stomach as I stood over the ball, which is something that I will never not experience, but I also understood that everybody else was feeling the same thing. I did well enough in the regular season to punch my ticket into league finals, which is an accomplishment I am very proud of. With an outside chance of qualifying to CCS, I played my best and ended up making it through. I exceeded my expectations, and my coach’s expectations as well, and I look forward to how far I can make it next year.

Although Pruneridge Golf Club and Sunken Gardens Golf Course are some of my regulars, I have been very fortunate to have played some of the most prestigious courses in the world. Monterey, an iconic golf destination is home to some of the best golf courses in the world, including Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill. I was speechless and amazed, awestruck by the beauty and pristine condition. It was surreal. Every year my dad, brother and I head up to a small town in Bandon, or, home to one of the famed golf resorts in the country. Bandon holds a special place in my heart because not only is it a time to create memories on the course but also with family.

The success on the golf course is heavily influenced by one’s mental toughness. Golf teaches me to be composed and confident. It teaches me patience and persistence. It helps me gain belief in my ability and in myself as a person. Many of these lessons are important on and off the golf course. Many of the challenges that I face and will face in real life will require me to apply the same mindset that I have on the course, which is what makes this game so special. It is what makes golf so much more than a game.