It’s that time of year again! Food, football, family, friends, those road trips to see relatives, etc. Yup, it’s Thanksgiving and there’s a lot to be thankful for but the one big thing I’m thankful for every year is the great sport of golf that was provided for us many years ago.
Growing up, my first love was basketball, and it’s still one of my favorite sports today (Go Bulls). Then that followed by football, then baseball. Hockey, I’m pretty casual about although I do respect it big time. I remember having an Eric Daze wallpaper on my computer a long time ago then it eventually turned into a Scottie Pippen one, followed by an Eddy Curry one (When he was the man in Chicago) etc.
Then finally, golf came around. I picked up the game at around age 13 when my mother decided she wanted me to give golf a try and take lessons. This gave me the urge to download the demo for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 to give golf a spin before I started hitting the lessons. I enjoyed the game and had fun bombing golf balls off the tee and sinking putts.
I started to like golf, then I went to the lessons but before the lessons started, the coach at my home course of Randall Oaks Golf Club (Designed by William J. Spear) in the Chicago suburbs told me to take some swings on the range. So he had me get a rental club which was a driver and let me hit the range on my own to kinda get a feel for things because I think he had other lessons to attend to that day so he just let me use the range for free for the day.
I held the driver in the baseball grip which is pretty rare for most golfers however, this was before I knew about the famed Vardon/Laidlay grip. I remember everything about my swing was off because remember, this was practically the first time I ever picked up a golf club (Other than a mini golf putter).
I was rather excited to take the first few swings as the ball laying on that tee looked so enticing and as my clubhead was sitting next to ball, waiting to go into launch mode, I was just ready to destroy the golf ball. My first swings were kinda replicated that of John Daly’s famous “Grip & Rip it” swing so I took a rip at the ball.
I don’t remember my very first shot, I’m sure it was sloppy. However, I was actually getting the ball airborne on several shots with the driver. Problem was that they were going so far to the right, they almost looked like they were going off-course.
I was still excited though, excited that I was able to hit the ball and give it some flight, despite how far right they went. Making solid contact with the driver is like hitting a home run every time you step up to the plate. It was so addicting!
Although my swing needed a lot of work, I was still hitting decent enough and I was happy about that. After that experience at the range, I finally got bit by the bug and fell in love with the wonderful sport. Golf was an escape for me from the stress of reality.
After taking lessons, I continued to go to the range and try to perfect my craft and I took many swings. The more I started to love the sport, that’s when I told myself, “I wanna become a professional golfer!” and wanted to practice hard to get on the PGA Tour.
I remember on a Christmas about a year later, I received my first set of golf clubs from my mother. They were Top Flite XL clubs and let me tell you, getting a fresh new set of golf clubs is the greatest feeling in the world, especially since this was my very first set. It’s even better than a new pair of kicks!
They were gorgeous golf clubs. I remember being giddy about it once I took the bag out of the box. I remember taking out each of the clubs and getting a feel for them. Grabbing the driver and the putter were probably the best feelings because I knew how significant these clubs were plus I was more familiar with them.
Not sure when I remember putting the clubs back in the bag. I just kept taking practice swings with them! I took my clubs up to Randall and hit some practice shots and putted on the greens. Such an awesome feeling, as before I was only using rental clubs but now here I am with my own clubs.
In high school, I’d take a couple of clubs up to the local elementary school which had a lot of open land behind the building and would just hit golf balls there. That’s one of the reasons why I love golf because you can play it wherever you want as long as it’s safe and you have softer balls.
I even went up there in temperatures as low as 20 degrees. I grabbed some yellow colored golf balls so I can see where they landed in all the snow. I remember grabbing my lob wedge when I did go up there, so it was easier to retrieve my ball since lob wedges don’t go that far.
I really wanted to get better, I looked at the Illinois junior Golf Association (IJGA), the eGolf Amateur Tour (Now GolfWeek Amateur Tour), Golf Channel Amateur Tour, etc but never had the opportunity to join since I wasn’t ready and felt like I wasn’t good enough. So after failing to make the high school golf team, I continued to play, but eventually, due to the lack of not having the chance to get on the course enough, I was considering giving up the dream of playing on the PGA Tour.
I then attended the First Tee for a couple of years to learn more about the game and to learn some valuable life lessons through golf which the First Tee is so excellent at teaching and that was a big thanks to our coach, Patty Henk who led the way. Coach and myself even played a round on my home course at Randall and it was a great experience as she taught me different things while we were in the middle of the round.
Even little things like when at address on your tee shots, keep your clubhead down on the ground for a more relaxed swing as I constantly had my clubhead in the air at address like most golfers do. Another thing was teeing your shots up high when using a driver as well as removing your hats and shaking hands at the end of rounds.
After The First Tee experience was over, I then attended a sports broadcasting camp for one week and had a blast as we practiced our broadcasting skills and even went up to Soldier Field to do some mock reporting. We went to Northwestern’s TV studio to practice TV broadcasting as well as radio broadcasting in their radio studio.
We had a chance to check out the press box of Soldier field and more. Although I always liked the media, this kinda fueled my passion for media even more.
After broadcasting camp, I was going into my senior of high school where I covered sports for our school paper titled “The Talon”. I wrote stories ranging from football and golf, to soccer and ultimate frisbee. It was such a fun experience and we had a terrific teacher to boot, who was a complete expert in the journalism industry.
I wrote my first piece (Although I don’t remember the sport) and thought, “I really do enjoy this stuff!”. This was the career change I was leaning towards. Since I wasn’t good enough at golf to play at the highest level, this was the closest I could get to doing so.
This was also the same year where I started my stint with the Chicago Golf Report. I got excited when one of my articles (On the Ryder Cup coming to Medinah) got on the front page. As senior year progressed, I was in a writing club where I usually wrote free verse love style poems.
This was a great way to help perfect my writing craft and explore different styles of writing. As the end of the school year was nearing, I was thinking of different options for college. I wanted to go to a school where I could play golf and learn the media business. There weren’t too many options.
There was actually one school that, although didn’t have a golf team, had three different classes I was interested in. A media class, a golf course design/landscape architecture class, and then a class for counseling (Pretty much anyway) which I was kinda interested in because it would of been rewarding to help younger kids with the stress of life and help them push through that heavy door that’s blocking their path.
Golf course designing was something I had a soft spot for. Now, I’m starting to love it even more. In my sophomore year of high school, I drew a few golf hole designs in my notebook although they were kinda sloppy at the time. Although I liked the options the school provided, a better option came up.
The school was very close to home, it had wonderful facilities, a golf team, and a sports media type of class or not even a class but more like a program. After taking a tour of the university, I told myself “This is the one!”. That was until I heard about a broadcasting school on the radio.
It was a lot farther away but it sounded great. Took a tour and it was amazing. It had almost every kind of broadcast equipment you can think of and had radio studios and TV studios all around the campus. It was small too so it was so easy to get around and navigate.
That’s when I made the decision to join that school and that’s where I gave up the original dream of becoming a professional golfer, to the dream of covering professional golf as a journalist. The broadcasting school also taught blogging which is why The GP Golf Report is here today and I’ve never looked back since.
I’ve put a lot of time and energy into this blog and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The stories I get to write are so fun whether it’s funny videos, my opinionated pieces, the weirder things of golf, etc and absolutely love it and I’m thankful for golf for giving us so much to talk about.
I’m also thankful and flattered that you come to read the blog as I never thought the blog would do as well as its done so far. You’re the reason why The GP Golf Report is an award winner and I can’t thank you enough for letting me fulfill your non-traditional golf needs.
As I mentioned, I’m starting to build a love for golf course design as a hobby which is why I’m so excited that The Golf Club, the video game from HB Studios has a course designer you can mess around with on those days where it’s too cold or rainy to play on the real course. It’s really a wonderful tool for those of you who love course design.
You see, only in golf can we talk hours about players, golf courses, equipment and travel. Only in golf, can you play almost wherever you want. Only in golf, can you combine exercise, sunshine, sport and fresh air and put them all in the same sentence.
I’m thankful for golf because it’s a lifetime sport where you can travel all over the world and look at beautiful scenery while enjoying a round on a gorgeous yet challenging course layout.
It’s a way for us to get away from life for a moment and just focus on where that putt breaks on the green.
Golf gave me a career. Without golf, I don’t know where I’d be today or what I’d be doing.
Golf saved my life as I probably would have no idea what route I’d go and I’m thankful for that everyday I wake up.
Why are YOU thankful for golf? Leave your comment below and I can’t wait to hear the stories you have to tell!