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?!
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
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!