Even after 32 years of playing golf I occasionally need a nudge to let me know what makes the game so special. Yes, hitting a perfect shot is intoxicating but I have always felt that golf was more than just about a sport. It unites people; it forges bonds between those who may not feel they have much in common, and those that really do, even if they don’t realize it.
While Monday brought ill winds to my doorstep in eastern Ontario and temperatures covering around -10 Celsius with the windchill, yesterday afternoon I scrambled to play eighteen holes in more welcome temperatures. A March 25th round of golf in my neck of the woods that does not involve losing a ball in a random pile of snow is a rare one and I was thankful for the opportunity.
While I enjoyed every moment on the course when it came to actually hitting shots it was the balance of the 3.5 hours and my playing partners who made it a real success.
It was all a matter of fortunate circumstances.
I had little intention of playing on the weekend; my focus early in the year is normally on practice, but a friend from Ottawa mentioned he was looking to play and as it had been years since we walked the fairways together I invited him for a game at Glen Lawrence, a club where I play on the east side of Kingston.
David is a high school teacher, an avid runner and basketball coach, and a fervent golfer. To understand his passion for life and helping others you need go not further than his own three sons and mentorship he brings to them as a father. As short of time as I have known him I sense that he thrives to pass on the best of himself to others at all times. I imagine that is why he is a popular and respected teacher.
Coincidentally, within hours of making the arrangement with David, a young man I came to know through golf, Andrew Jensen, was in touch about meeting up as he planned to be driving by on Sunday on his way to the Oakville area. After mentioning the game he jokingly said he might be available for golf; I jumped to include him in the mix.
After covering Andrew as an amateur golfer I’ve followed his career among the ranks of minor league pros, with stops on the Canadian Tour and a highlight as a winner on the Great Lakes Tour. I almost forgot about a recent public revelation by Jensen (along with his new-found passion for running) until David brought it to my attention.
After informing David of our addition I received this message from him (in part) -“Scott… so I have heard of Andrew many times, and just did some research. I am so pumped to play with him!…not nervous now, but so inspired and motivated from him. PS. Do you think he would mind if I promoted his story? Thinking this would be a great teaching moment.”
The stars had aligned.
That story? It’s one of a young athlete, a young man, who has struggled with depression to the point where it has almost cost him his life.
Thankfully Andrew is still with us and he knows how important it is to use his voice to share his story and help others who might be in a similar situation. Via David, Andrew’s powerful tale has a chance to reach more young people in the community, just as he intended. As hard as that might be. Through the combination of both of them there is both a voice and a messenger to affect change, educate, and possibly pass on timely words to a person who may be in need right now or in the future.
It was mere coincidence that brought us all together for a round of golf but I can’t feel that it was yet another time where golf has forged a relationship that will yield great benefits, tangible ones that will really make a difference in the world beyond the fairways, but only because of something that happened on them.
Bogeys, birdies, or otherwise, it made the first round of the year one that will be hard to top.