After suffering in the sweltering heat for four and a half hours, I roll off the course to get my daily Gardetto and Arnold Palmer fix in the Milburn Country Club bistro. To my left, a man with white hair sat in a brown, worn-leather chair. In his hands, he held the latest issue of the Kansas City Star.
“I saw your name in the paper,” he said. “From what I read, you seem to be playing well. Will you be playing golf in college?”
I had no response.
For six years I have played in competitive golf tournaments around the country. It’s been my favorite thing to do with friends and family for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, the question, “Are you playing college golf?” has been asked more times than I would like.
Golf was a lifestyle in my family. My dad played college golf, my cousin played college golf and my uncle played college golf. Almost every member in my family belongs to a country club and plays every weekend. The world stops the weekend of the Masters. My dad goes M.I.A. for the whole weekend because he watches the Masters so intently.
My family all got to sign the papers and make the commitment. So I wanted to do that same thing.
Collegiate golf. I decided when I was in eighth grade that I would start taking golf seriously. Instead of just randomly playing when my dad asked me to, I began playing in tournaments at least four times a week during the summer.
I pictured myself signing the papers, posting the picture of my commitment to Instagram with my arms in the air in front of the main landmark on campus. The caption would read “I am proud to say I have to committed to play college golf at…”
The end of the sentence was the problem.
I had to no idea where to play, or if I truly wanted to. I have had moments where I’ve been super motivated to play and moments when I’ve had no desire to play at all. When I played great then I’d want to play. But when I played poorly, I did not want to play. And if I would have to to sacrifice hanging out with my friends for practice time, the doubt crept in.
I have played in the state tournament all three years of high school, and although I have performed poorly all three years, it motivates me more than anything. Luckily, my team has done well: Fourth place freshman year. Second place sophomore year. And finally, first place junior year. Right after state sophomore year, I knew I wanted to play college golf for sure.
My dad has always been supportive of me playing golf. He signs me up for all the tournaments, buys me Nike windbreakers and Adidas 360 shoes and helps me practice. But sometimes the pressure from him gets to me. He just wants me to do well and he knows I can, so he gets frustrated when I don’t perform to my best ability; he thinks I am throwing away my talent. He always says that I have so much natural ability, and if I truly put in the effort I could go as far as I wanted. My dad told me that right after I played varsity as a freshman.
I started pushing myself to be better because I wanted to make my dad proud. As a freshman, I was not thinking too much about college golf. All last summer I played golf every day, played in tournaments every other day and took lessons once a week.
By continuing to play in tournaments and take lessons, I will improve throughout the summer. But it might not be enough. I might not get to sign the paper and post the picture on Instagram, but it will be ok.
This summer is do or die for me. If I play well I play college golf, if I don’t I won’t play college golf. It’s that simple. And I know that either way my dad and my family will be proud either way.