I was 10 years old and off to my first session at the Buttonhole Short Course and Learning Center summer camp with my friend David Cavallaro. Now I was 10 years old, and golf didn’t pose much of an interest too me, but I thought, hey, why not. The camp was better than expected. I had played some golf with my grandfathers before and was familiar with the sport. I felt good about myself when I could hit my 7-Iron 120 yards while Dave could only hit his 90. Yeah, I felt like a stud. At the camp is where I got my first glimpse of my upcoming obsession with the “Gentleman’s Game.”
Through the camp I earned my “Buttonhole Card.” This simple card was all I needed to play 9 holes there for a dollar and hit a large bucket at the range for two dollars. So as I’m sure you assumed I played a ton. Almost ever weekend with my father and Dave and his father. I developed some skills for the game, but overall, I was still shooting seventeen over par on a par three course who’s par was twenty seven. I eventually got to shooting around ten over par and I thought I was pretty good. Dave and I would hang out and hit golf balls in each others yards at flag sticks in the ground or buckets 30 yards away. The game gave me the feeling that I could actually be successful at a sport rather than just play it for fun, like baseball or football. At twelve years old with big dreams, I set off on a life changing experience.
In the summer of my 13th year, Dave and I purchased a membership at a local course known as Crystal Lake Golf Club. The course was a par seventy-one and a step up from the par twenty-seven par three course we had been paying on for two years. As we first began to play it, our heart’s sank. Dave and I had only played on a big course such as this one two or three times, we were as Dave would say, “God Awful.” As we played one we finally broke 110, then 100, and then 90 and our love for the game was reestablished. Dave and I played almost 80 rounds that summer and had the time of our life doing it. During that same summer was my first time competing in a golf tournament in a series of tournaments known as the United States Challenge Cup. I shot a 97 in the tournament and placed close to last but it was an enriching experience, as I got my first glance at what I wanted to do with my golf game.
During that same summer I also started my first summer job as a caddy at a local country club. I was not a big fan of the job but it helped me learn that knowing the game of golf can help you really develop more of a respect for the game when you are around shankers like the ones at the country club. It makes you respect the difficulty of the sport, and how good Tiger Woods really is. I had an awful time caddying, but I learned some important lessons from it that I continue to use to this day about one year later.
I am now 15 years old and a 12 handicap. I decreased my index by ten points and made the second-team all-division in my freshman year of high school. I competed in the States Championship and placed in the middle of the pack, while having a blast doing it. I was very happy with the way I played in my first year of true competitive golf, as I look to play golf in college as I progress through secondary school. I am off to a pretty good start and continue to practice, practice, practice (as my grandfather would say) and be the best I can be. My Poppy, or my grandfather, passed away just a few weeks ago of a nasty lung-disease. It was tough to see him go but I am very happy he is in a better place now where he can look over my family (and help me with my golf game). I loved my Poppy very much, but I know he would be proud of my accomplishments since he left, and I know he knows how much the game of golf has truly impacted my life, as it did his.