Grateful for Golf
By Kevin Hyland
PGA HOPE Ambassador, Karen Cooper and a participant at the Congressional Country Club on October 17, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)
I live in a modest 1950s ranch a handful of miles from Dallas and a handful more from the home of the PGA of America headquarters. I frequently don inexpensive (yet tailored) trousers, beat-up Vans and a myriad of quarter zips. My luggage — save for a phenomenal Ryder Cup shoulder bag — is painfully nondescript. My golf travel bag is missing a wheel.
I should not be mistaken for the keeper of industry secrets.
And yet, in my 80+ Uber rides and 30+ flights from January thru September, I batted nearly .500 on being asked for an expert take on matters in golf that I know so little about.
“Is he really going to…?” “Is it all about…? “ “And what about…?”
And until recently, my answer was always: “How bout dem Cowboys?”
Oddly enough, that response plays phenomenally well inside and outside of the Dallas Metroplex, for nearly everyone has an opinion on America’s Team…and those that don’t, are perfectly primed to talk about the weather, recent heat waves, rising oceans and the polarizing politics of climate change.
Small talk gets big fast.
In October of this year, the conversation changed. I took a trip to Washington D.C. to hear how Veterans are working with PGA Professionals in the creation of golf communities across the country through PGA HOPE, and I instantly found a new move for this predictable line of questions.
My first ride took an entirely different shape.
“What are your thoughts on (insert name of famous golfer)? You must know about… I hope he…”
“Golf is saving lives.”
The driver looked at me puzzled and seemingly scratched his head to say: Wow, yet another crazy person. But my window was open, so I just let it go.
“I spend the vast majority of my time focusing on the millions of people who play golf and the wonderful stories I hear about our game’s ability to enrich lives.”
It only sounds cheesy when you don’t believe it.
I spent the next twenty minutes of our ride from Dallas Love Field to my home explaining my time at Congressional Country Club with our Veterans and how moving it was to hear a young man speak through tears about his connection with golf and how it ultimately drove him away from suicidal thoughts. I then told him a bit about Dave Blakelock, a friend of mine who drove across the entirety of our country to play golf 100 days in a row with perfect strangers in an effort to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s Disease. Our eyes met in the rearview mirror, and the gloss in his eyes told me everything I needed to know.
Golf’s impact on the human experience is incredibly rich.
This holiday season, we’re carving out some time to tell the stories that truly matter in golf, and we encourage you to sit back, enjoy and remember why you’re grateful for this game.