Today is the close of a chapter, but hardly the end of a story.
In the midst of the current coronavirus epidemic worldwide, we are seeing the cancellations/suspension of play across many sports, suspension of education at all levels, and really any event/gathering with a crowd is being called off.
It is a fair move for all of this to happen, as you can never be too careful with things like this and health is the primary concern.
However, I found out today that my college golf season is over. As a senior, this means my college golf career is over.
Which, in turn, means my competitive golf career is over.
I still plan on playing in competitive events at the amateur level here and there, but it will be much different.
For the last 10 years of my life, competitive golf has been near the forefront of everything.
From my first tournaments in late elementary school at The First Tee program, to the Kansas City Junior Tour, to 4 years of varsity golf in high school highlighted by a few wins and a state tournament experience, to my incredible experience at Pebble Beach for the Nature Valley First Tee Open… a dream I had for 8+ years that came true and was one of the best weeks of my life, to then college golf and the ups and downs those 4 years brought me.
Golf has taken me so far, but I will never forget the origin story.
Wesley, my grandfather, my papa, put clubs in my hands in Burke, South Dakota at the age of 5.
I fell in love immediately.
I still remember the first time I hit the ball up in the air.
I remember thinking “wow, it can fly!”
Ever since then, I always love seeing that little white ball fly.
The only people in my family that played golf growing up were my grandpa and my uncle Steve.
They both have passed away in the past few years, but they both left such huge impacts on my life on and off the course.
From the Burke 9 hole course in South Dakota, to the Red Lodge Mountain Course by my uncle’s house in Montana, to Bent Oak Golf Club in Oak Grove, I will never forget my origins with the game.
I’ve most recently gone back to those origins 2 years ago.
Summer of 2018, I played Red Lodge for the first time since I was a kid.
I played SO BAD, but I got to the island green 16th and began to remember one of my oldest memories.
I was probably 6 or 7 years old, and I had had a bloody nose all day.
It stopped right before the 16th hole, so I stepped up with my little driver and successfully hit it onto the green, safe from the water surrounding all sides.
I was so excited.
I then, 12+ years later, approached that hole as a 19-year-old, with a pitching wedge in hand and a prayer.
I just wanted to hit a good shot so bad. For myself, for my uncle Steve.
I struck the ball with confidence, despite having a bad round to that point.
The ball was suspended in the air forever.
It finally came down… 2 feet from the hole.
One of the best shots, in my opinion, I’ve ever hit.
I emotionally made my way to the green, holding back tears of joy and successfully converted the birdie.
I had a similar moment today.
I found out about my college golf career ending this afternoon while playing 9 holes at the Heart of America “Par 3” course.
When I was 9 years old, I began taking lessons at Heart of America Golf Academy.
Heart of America was practically my second home as a child.
My mom would drop me off and leave me there all day to play and practice.
I’ve legitimately played there one thousand times, I’m sure.
Leagues, events, classes, lessons, etc.,.
So many memories.
Once I got the message that it was over, I called my mom and dad just to let them know and say hello.
I ended my phone call on the 8th tee.
I stood there and said, “wouldn’t it be something if I made a hole-in-one?”
I smiled, took my stance, and struck the ball…
It was heading right at the flag…
My heart started racing…
It didn’t go in… but it was a good shot… got me excited.
Now, onto the final hole of the day: Hole 9.
Hole 9 on that “Par 3” course is typically my worst hole, but I, of course, was motivated to finish strong.
I struck the ball…
It was heading right at the flag.
Didn’t go in, but another good shot to about 10 feet.
Walking to the green, I was reminiscing on years of memories…
Everything I could think of.
I got to the green, stood over the putt, and said “this one has to go in, doesn’t it?”
I struck the ball, rolled it purely, and it went right in the center of the hole for a closing birdie.
As soon as it went in, I threw a fist pump and began to shed a few tears.
It may not have meant anything in reality, as I was just practicing by myself, but that moment meant the world to me.
15+ years of golf. Played at every level. Made so many memories. Overcame so much. Learned so much. Forever thankful.
I could write 1,000 more words about my golf life/experiences, but I’ll end it here.
Now, this isn’t the end – I will never stop playing golf, never stop practicing, never stop grinding to be better.
However, I recognize that this is certainly the end of a chapter.
It’s emotional, it’s difficult, but I’m so thankful.
Thankful for learning. Thankful for golf. Thankful for life.
Here’s to many more years of golf and of a life fulfilled.
Stay healthy out there everyone.