Lessons from the Field: From Starting Line to Tee Box. And a Rewarding Tale of Self-Growth.

It was late July before my junior year, and my family was on vacation for a baseball tournament my brother was playing in South Carolina. We were staying on a golf course not far from the beach. At the time, back in Ohio, I was missing my annual summer golf program called The First Tee. It was disappointing because I loved the game so much, and with the summer about to end, the reality crept into me that I wouldn’t be able to play much until the next summer. When I got back from vacation, my time would mostly be taken up from running cross country.

Until one morning, when I was sitting on the balcony watching a foursome tee-off on the 13th hole of Whispering Pines Golf Club, and a thought popped in my head.

What if I played golf this fall instead of running?

Long story short, I immediately contacted some friends that had played on the team, asked questions about what it was like, then emailed the coach, asked more questions, and before I knew it I was about to tee off on Hueston Woods #1 for the 2017 Talawanda Golf Tryouts. The day before, I called my cross country coach to inform him I wouldn’t be running that year.  It was great to get back on the golf course, but what was I thinking?

I ended up on the JV Team my junior year, and remember how hard it was to get acclimated to a new sport. Golf and running are polar opposites, and for someone who had never played competitive golf before to step right in and try, it would be an understatement to call it a challenge. I was getting to know new teammates. I was trying to improve my game. I was getting used to a new coach and how he managed the team. I was trying to stop thinking about all the scenarios of if I had just kept things easy and ran cross country instead. And with all of this, I was under intense pressure from my teammates and coaches to perform. Anybody that’s picked up a golf club before knows how difficult it is to play well consistently. I wasn’t the best player on the team that year, but I had a lot of fun and learned how to deal with pressure when everyone was watching.

Looking back on my junior year golf season, I’m so glad I made the change. Yes, I missed my old cross country friends and teammates and the memories we had made since 7th grade. And I had missed running. It’s something only a minority of people in the world enjoy, and I’m one of them. But during that golf season, I gained extreme confidence in my ability and self-worth as a person. I got better. I worked hard. I learned how valuable perseverance, grit, and work ethic really are toward achieving a goal. I made a gutsy choice, and in the end, it paid off big time. I even won the golf team Braves Award for my leadership, dedication, and poise throughout the season. And through it all, I developed some of the strongest friendships I have today.

In fact, I had so much fun that year, I decided to come back again for my senior season. This past fall, I made the Varsity team, was the number 3 golfer for the entire season, and earned SWOC Second-Team all-conference honors for my excellent play on the course. The increased expectations for playing on Varsity made the year even more challenging, but I was ready.

It would be a gross understatement to call my athletic career at Talawanda valuable. In fact, I would even go as far as saying it was life-changing. From switching sports, I learned that confidence is built from hard work and persevering through tough times and issues. The switch empowered me to learn more about myself and how I can stretch my limits to find success in other areas of life. It showed me how rewarding a strong work ethic can be. From what I thought was going to be a bad decision turned into a Braves Award, SWOC League Honors, and best of all, some incredible friends who have become very close to me.

Change takes work. It takes sacrifice. It takes a willingness to alter your perspective on things. But if you put your mind to it, work constantly, and accept failures and celebrate triumphs as you go, it might be one of the best things you’ll do for your life. It was for me.

Patrick Geshan hosts “The Final with Patty G” weekdays on Brave TV.