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What Golf Can Really Do

Dave Wilber

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Amy Bockerstette.

I am 128% confident that you do not know that name. So, stop right now and hit this link. Do not read on until you have. Period. As soon as your eyes dry, I appreciate you reading on.

As many thousands of us prepare to roll into San Diego for the 2019 GIS, there is one thing that is very clear to me...Golf Does Great Things. Of that, there is not a question in my mind. Lets take the video you just watched and do a little deconstruction. Amy, gifted with Down Syndrome is 19 years old. She was recently awarded a scholarship to play golf at Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona. And I will bet Marking Foam to Stale Break Room Donuts that the day she was born, her parents didn't see that one coming. Nor could they imagine that their daughter would walk up to the 16th Hole at TPC Scottsdale and make a 3 in front of several thousand people. For the record, I would have been happy to make an 8. And the video, as I write this, is going semi-viral.

And I will bet Marking Foam to Stale Break Room Donuts that the day she was born, her parents didn't see that one coming.

In digging a little further, it looks like Amy got a chance to learn the sport by going to a kids camp sponsored by Arizona Special Olympics. She played at her high school. And she loves it. And she's won several other awards along her path to teeing it up with Gary Woodland at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

And that's just one story. One.661101512_MexicanCaddies.jpg.de31479420e7b15cc4d65259cd342f54.jpg

Golf changed my life. I wrote about one such realization when on a trip to Mexico to chill and do Yoga, I happened to end up on a booze cruise with a group of Mexican Caddies. In that moment, I sat and thought how really interesting life was and how Golf has helped. Pretty cool. My list of accomplishments, world place visits and the like is mostly tied to my association with the game and with Turfgrass.  And I am totally sure that when I was born, my parents would not have guessed that one. I often get blank stares from non-turf, non-golf initiates to me when I tell them that I have played golf on seven continents and consulted with Turfgrass on six of them in over 70 countries. Yeah. I'm a kid from a small town in the Colorado mountains. And when I shoveled my first scoop of topdressing sand, I had no idea.

But at the same time, the traditions, sportsmanship, ecology and overall greatness of the sport, need not be forgotten. Or gimmicked up. In truth, they need to be embraced and celebrated. Because when the combo is right, what we get is changed lives. Simple.

Last week, my twitter feed was filled with "new ideas" from the PGA Show. And clearly, you can see over the last few years, that side of the industry is trying all kinds of things to grow the game, keep fun in the game, etc. When I spoke up about some of the crazy ideas I read, a few Turfheads told me that there is nothing wrong with looking for change. And I agree. Totally. But at the same time, the traditions, sportsmanship, ecology and overall greatness of the sport, need not be forgotten. Or gimmicked up. In truth, they need to be embraced and celebrated. Because when the combo is right, what we get is changed lives. Simple.

I am really excited about the 2019 GIS. For many reasons. At the same time, it's hard for me. I'm not great in crowds. Too many hours without hearing protection make it hard to hear sometimes. My knees don't love the walking. And I seem to never be able to see all I want to see and meet all who I want to meet. But the good outweighs the bad. Big time. The whole thing is intensely personal for me. As I see people I have known for years, we get to talk about our lives. Our changed lives. Our directly impacted and made better lives. Golf can do this. Often in ways that no one expects. So for me, the personal stories of success and challenge and even failure or real and vivid and alive. What a thing!!! Seriously. I don't think that I even have the words to express what an impact this all has on the depths of my soul. 

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Pictured with me are some great friends. The two in the back are Kevin Hicks and Thomas Bastis. Both of whom I met early in all our careers and both whom have risen to relative Turfhead Stardom. Thomas now with the PGA Tour and Kevin a proud member of the Earthworks agronomy team. The gent next to me in Mickey McCord of McCord Golf Safety. An influencer, no doubt.

This pic was taken at a conference we all ended up at and the best moment for me is right here. Brothers. Compadres. Friends. Acquaintances. Whatever the word. You are looking at 4 dudes who have been changed by the game. By the business. By every decision we all made in our relative paths to our goals. That's incredible.

The whole thing is intensely personal for me. As I see people I have known for years, we get to talk about our lives. Our changed lives. Our directly impacted and made better lives. Golf can do this.

Whatever climate or place in the world you are working. Whatever you are doing or not doing. Whatever your dreams and hopes are, lest you not forget that Golf changes lives.

What a thing. What an incredible and enormous thing. A sport "chasing a silly white ball" is that big and has the potential to be so much bigger.

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Thank you, Matt. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the support I have received from friends like you. Means the world to me.

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