When I look back on my life, it’s incredible that I’m even here at SMU playing golf. It feels like every possible obstacle got in the way of that happening.
From health issues, family passing away, to even my own personal self-interest and focus. Sometimes it felt like everything and everyone banded together to ensure I would fail.
And for a moment, I did.
I walked away from the game I loved and the passion I had.
However, with some time away and a moment of clarity, I realized that all those challenges only made me tougher, and the more I got knocked down, the more I wanted to stand up.
And now, I’m here — ready to show the world what I’m really capable of.
Golf wasn’t even on my mind growing up.
Picking up the sport was more of a coincidence, I guess.
At the age of ten, I was diagnosed with Leukemia.
I remember going on a trip with my father and just being exhausted over the slightest movements. As soon as we returned, I went to the doctor.
The next thing I know, my whole family is at the doctor’s office, and we’re getting the news.
I have Leukemia.
Suddenly, it’s test after test, constant drawing of blood, spinal taps, and blood transfusions. Not exactly what you’d expect a ten-year-old child to go through, right?
But in some ways, I was lucky.
I had the love and support of my family, and being that I was so young, I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. I knew it was serious, but it didn’t weigh on me.
Due to the chemo and other treatments, sports were out of the equation — no more football, basketball, or skiing for me.
So, my father suggested a sport that would be a bit less taxing on my body — golf.
I hated the idea.
I never liked golf.
It’s a boring sport for old people!
Or so I thought. I finally gave in and took a one-on-one lesson with an instructor.
And to my surprise, I fell in love.
The competition, the technical skill, and the battle you take with the course is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.
I quickly began my journey playing this beautiful sport.
It may sound odd, but if it wasn’t for my battle with Leukemia, I probably would have never found golf.
Playing golf took me here to SMU, but the way I played golf wasn’t going to keep me at SMU.
I learned that quickly.
As a young adult, I was usually the best compared to my peers, but we have a great program here!
Some serious talent, and suddenly, I was a small fish in a big pond.
I red-shirted my first year, and I needed to.
I wasn’t ready.
The level of play was very high, and academics was a struggle.
It felt like I couldn’t get my feet under me, and I was just trying to keep myself together.
As I progressed, I improved, but I still had my challenges on the golf course.
I remember having tournaments in my sophomore year where I was subbed out because of my performances.
It was devastating.
I was trying so hard; what was the problem?
When you face adversity, it can bring out the worst in you or the best in you. For me, the worst started showing. My workaholic competitiveness went from a strength to a weakness.
I was pushing too hard, demanding perfection, and comparing myself to others more than I was just focusing on myself.
Do you know the saying “compare leads to despair”? Well, I can confirm that it’s true.
I suddenly found myself so frustrated, so burnt out due to my work ethic, that I was ready to give up golf.
Well, I did give up golf.
I walked away feeling like I did all I could.
I just wasn’t good enough to continue, and I didn’t have a desire to return.
I went on to get a good office job and move on from golf. I went as long as six weeks without grabbing a club. Before quitting, six days would’ve felt like an eternity.
Now, it was the norm.
The time away did wonders for me.
It showed me that I really did love the sport and actually really missed it.
I wasn’t done playing this game. I had more to give.
During this time, I also had a dark moment that lighted my path.
My grandfather passed away. I was very close with him and he actually happened to be an SMU alum as well.
Experiencing that death was saddening and heartbreaking, but it was a cruel reminder that life is short. We need to embrace every moment we have and get after it. We only get one life.
Was I doing my best sitting in an office?
Was I reaching my full potential?
I knew what I had to do. I had to go back to the game I love.
Returning to golf was like finding a part of myself I didn’t know I lost.
It was like a rebirth.
Now, I knew what I had, and I wasn’t taking it for granted.
I found a way to still have my work ethic without being toxic to myself, to compare myself less to others, and just focus on getting better each day.
When I returned to the course my junior year, I started played some of my best golf — what a turnaround.
I battled my demons in all the shapes they came in — whether that was my disease, my grandfather’s death, or my own personal struggles.
I came out as a better person from those battles.
Pressure can bust pipes, or it can make diamonds, and these days I like to think I’m shining bright.