Golf Prodigy, Part 2
While in high school, I played tournament golf against the best golfers throughout the country. My performance was only average, and I questioned whether I was in the right sport. The ups and downs of golf are tremendous and depression is common when play is not consistent. I'd like to tell you about the first and last time I allowed my ADHD to make an appearance on the links.
It was early summer, 1997, and I was caught up in a whirlwind schedule, with 17 tournaments to play around the country. The first was the Missouri Junior Amateur. I wish I had stayed home that day.
From the start, it was a bad round. After several bad shots, I glanced over at my mom, who seemed totally disinterested. I decided that my flinging a golf club might pique her interest, so I pulled out several clubs and hurled them into a tree — where they stuck. The tree was not climbable, so I shook it vigorously in an attempt to retrieve the clubs. It didn't work. I then pulled out my five iron and snapped it over my knee. My playing partners were shocked.
A tournament official who witnessed all this questioned me about my tirade. "Sir, I was getting bored out here and I was not playing well," I said. "What is 'not playing well?'" he asked. "I am two over par, Sir." The official shook his head. "Son, you are one out of the lead, but I am going to have to ask you to withdraw because of your actions. I do not want to have to kick you out of this tournament."
My mom was distressed over my behavior and said I would never play golf again. Yet I knew that I would be on the plane to Florida the next week for the Junior World Championships. I vowed never again to throw another golf club. I also pledged never to allow the game to get the best of me — and to do my best to keep it fun.
When my game is not at its peak, I think back to that embarrassing day and remember that it's only a game. Years ago my mom told me that if I would go out to the course to enjoy the walk and the time spent with other players, I would perform better. It works.
Later in 1997, I did well in several tournaments and got some heavy exposure. When I returned home, a pile of college and university offers awaited me. In the end, I chose Grinnell College, a top-notch school in Iowa.
My dedication to sports helped me to develop self-confidence. I was a child with severe ADHD, but I was able to release tension and energy through constructive behavior. I was fortunate to have parents who enabled me to play these sports and who acknowledged their therapeutic importance in my life.
Organized sports can make a critical difference for kids who might otherwise use their energy in detrimental ways. Having ADHD is hard enough. Let your child break out and focus his energy on playing hard and having fun. A sport that fits your child's personality can be a key to lifelong success.