Growing up, basketball was always my first love. I always saw myself growing up to play college basketball, winning a national championship, and eventually making it to the NBA. Flash forward a couple years to high school, and my 5’8-135 pound frame didn’t exactly show a promising future in the sport. Luckily, at that same exact time I was just finding a greater love for the game of golf, and starting to bloom in a sport I never took so seriously. I never paid much attention to golf, as I always saw myself being a basketball player. But as I saw my basketball career past high school coming to a close, I found similarities between the sport I first fell in love with, and golf, that really helped me excel in the game moving forward.
Since playing basketball at a young age, I found that the competitiveness of the game has helped me more in golf than anything else. You can draw back on a lot of comparisons to different sports and how they might help you excel in one another. Although basketball is a reactionary sport, and golf requires a little more thinking, I found that I was able to apply some of the basic competitive instincts that I used in basketball to golf. I wasn’t always the best basketball player growing up and I had to work really hard to get ahead of others around me. My Father, who played college basketball, instilled a great work ethic in me from a young age. I wasn’t blessed with great skills or an outstanding athletic ability, but I understood how to outwork others and had an understanding for the game that helped me see things differently than most my opponents. One thing my Father always tried to tell me was, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Whether it was basketball or golf, I always felt that if I could out work others around me, then I would in return not only be a better player, but be better prepared for any situation come game time.
With golf, it was always different with me, as I tended to see things in a different way than most others did. I was never the most accurate player from tee to green, and seemingly always found myself scrambling to save my rounds. One of my most memorable rounds of high school, was a round where I shot 1-over par 73, and ended up winning the tournament. That day I accounted for 4 greens in regulation, 3 of which I birdied, and recorded 22 total putts for the round. Like I said, I wasn’t the most accurate player growing up, but I was a grinder, and I understood what it took to get the ball in the hole even when I didn’t have my best stuff.
I always looked at my short game as my defense. I looked at driving and iron play as my offense, because I saw those shots as the ones that set you up to score. Your short game is going to save you on days that your offense just isn’t there, like playing defense would in basketball. Not every round are you going to have your A game on offense, but like a great scorer in basketball, you are going to find ways to get it done even when you don’t have your best stuff, and that’s where your short game comes in. People always say defense wins championships, and in golf, more than other sports, I believe that to be 100% true. If you look at your short game as your “defense”, you will understand its importance to saving strokes on your round, as well as being consistent and competing with par on a routine basis. People often forget that 3 foot putt you didn’t take seriously and missed counts just the same as the 300 yard drive you hit right down the middle of the fairway.
Now a days kids tend to play 1 sport growing up more than ever. I didn’t grow up in a big city where you had to pick and choose what sports you’d play, but I always look back to my younger days and adolescent years, and think about how lucky I was to be able to play and compete in so many different sports. I truly believe that gaining that competitive edge in different arenas helped me not only grow as an athlete, but to also gain the self-discipline and mental toughness to push myself past opponents. In golf you learn your greatest opponent is not standing next to you on the tee box, but is yourself. Having a competitive edge isn’t just about being competitive with other people, but being competitive with yourself and not letting that little voice inside your head win. Basketball taught me to push past my limits and that I could beat a better team, make a crucial free throw in crunch time, and do that down-and-back in under 11 seconds. I still feel that with all I’ve done in the game of golf, I still wouldn’t be half the player I am today without the game of basketball teaching me the mental toughness and discipline I needed to be successful.