Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Golf Boys 2.0

Does the term/idea/concept of "the Golf Boys" mean anything to you? Maybe you've seen on them PGA tour. You might have heard of them or heard them sing. That's right—this boy band on the PGA tour consists of some popular and talented golfers: Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane and Bubba Watson. In 2011, they created a YouTube video for the song "Oh Oh Oh" which caught on among golf enthusiasts and beyond. The brain child of Ben Crane, Farmers Insurance donates $1,000 for every 100,000 views of the video. The proceeds support both Farmers and Ben Crane charitable initiatives.
My students love it and so do I. Their goofiness sheds a fun and fresh light on a sport that too often is considered stuffy and one for retired folks. But, if you've spent any time around a high school boys' golf team, I think you understand. Golf Boys on the PGA tour or not are one in the same. 

Last week, I was asked by the varsity boys' golf coach if I could help him out for the second round of Central Coach Section (CCS) divisional play-offs. In Southern California for a family commitment, he was in need of a coach or teacher to drive the guys to Rancho Canada golf course in Carmel Valley and work with them as needed.

I was reluctant to commit. The end of the year is already chaotic, I wasn't sure that I could miss a day of class, let alone muster the energy or desire to drive six guys in a van for two hours there and back. But deep down, I knew I could help. Two-thirds of my seniors would be taking the AP Government test on the day of the match and I was free the day/night before. Having taught all four seniors, I knew the squad. When I found out I could also play a practice round as soon as we arrived, I began to see: a burden was becoming a blessing. Life, all too often, can be like that.
Love this sign that greets you when you enter the shared parking lot of Rancho Canada golf course & a community church.
Why can't you do both when you go left?!
We started our trip with a heartfelt prayer for safe passage. We arrived in Monterey county to sunny skies and very light wind. I joined the three senior captains in a fun foursome. We shared two great meals and some unforgettable laughs.

At CCS, golf coaches are not allowed to give any advice or instruction to their players during the round of 18. It's tremendously counter-intuitive for a coach to keep silent and distant. However, this role freed me up to observe the competition, the way the players respect the rules, the game and one another. It was exciting. There was some great golf.

We stood in a viewers gallery as the scores came in group by group. The lowest five scores of a team's six players determine the outcome. We waited in anticipation for the numbers with the hopes that the team would advance to the next round. It wasn't to be.

Make no mistake about it, the guys were disappointed. The team posted a high score and several players did not have good rounds. The start of the van ride home was a little quiet and sullen until a few jokes, stories and video games in—and things changed. I can't put in writing all that I learned and that we shared, but that experience reminded me of something Cooper Manning once said.

This Manning had to stop playing football at Ole Miss during his freshman year. In an interview for "The Book of Manning" he recalls how he felt and why. Even twenty years later as he recalls what went down, he is brought to tears. It's powerfully moving, because it's so real. He said "I think what I miss most about football is—the guys. Not winning or losing or catching touchdowns, it's the locker room, the bus rides home. That was good stuff."

These golf boys reminded me of the best part of being on a team. Manning's right. It's not the W's or section titles. It really is the guys...the one sophomore, the nutty junior and the cool seniors. It's about the van ride home—getting locked out of it in Gilroy, listening to Joe's music, and more.
Team Golf Boys
If you watch the PGA tour, you will see that the Golf Boys is more than just four men having fun. They are good friends and the closest thing to teammates the professional tour can offer. When Watson won the Masters in 2012, all three golf boys were on hand to hug and congratulate him for his feat. Maybe you noticed Watson and his adorable son Caleb were on hand at the 18th green to congratulate Rickie Fowler for a killer round that put him into the aggregate playoff at The Players Championship. 

It's all real...Golf Boys on the tour near and far, you are the reason we come back for more. Thanks Justin, Joe, Zach, Johnny, Kyle and MarcAnthony!

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