As you’ve all come to know… the HP Byron Nelson Championship exists to raise money to fund the charity that we own and operate, Momentous Institute. What you may not know is what we do at this charity. The way I like to describe it is….. We change kids’ lives and we change the future for all of us. What’s even cooler is the way we do it. The focus of our education and mental health services for kids is on building and repairing social emotional health. We have learned that if we equip kids with concrete skills like the ability to manage emotions, communicate, build relationships, and think critically for themselves, we put them in the right position to succeed, both in the classroom and in their daily lives.
All of us who play this great game of golf have known the power of this for a long time. Phrases like, “if you really want to get to know somebody, play golf with them for four hours,” make this point. A game of golf involves a lot of things other than athletic ability. It takes organization to get the game together; it takes patience and creativity; it takes social skills to relate with those you are playing with; it takes respectfulness as shown in the etiquette of the game; and it takes self-regulation. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to curse loudly after hitting a shot into the water! But what it does more than anything is bring people together to interact in a very positive way.
I write this blog on an airplane on my way back from Phoenix after having spent the past few days participating in my annual boys’ golf trip. Our group has taken this trip annually since 2001 and it’s always something we look forward to. It’s a chance for us to find a warm place to go for a few days in the winter; it’s a chance for us to play a little golf; but most importantly, it’s a chance for us to reconnect with friends that are important in our lives. The golf is fun, but what’s really important is the time we spend together.
Similarly, I recently caddied for my 12-year-old daughter, Emma, in her first-ever golf tournament. There is no doubt that I was more excited than she was. I, like so many of weus, have fond memories of learning this game and playing with my father. She got bad advice from her caddie on the first hole and hit it way over the green into the trees. The same caddie compounded the problem by suggesting she could punch it out of there instead of taking her medicine and taking the penalty to get back into play. From that point I realized I should just “keep up and shut up” and enjoy the time with my daughter. And that we did. We talked a little about golf during the round, but we also talked about school, her soccer games, the movie she wants to see, things that have been bugging her, what we wanted for dinner. You name it, we talked about it. She didn’t score as well as she had hoped that day, but when I asked her if she had fun and wanted to do it again, it was a resounding yes. When I told her I’d caddie for her again, she gave me a big bear hug! And just think, in the two hours it took us to play golf, she didn’t even realize she was learning how to control her emotions, how to build relationships with other players, how to think positively. These are skills she will use her entire life.
As spring approaches and the grass starts turning green, I hope you all get a chance to get out on the golf course and work on your own social emotional health, and I hope you help us change the lives of so many kids in our community by bringing out the entire family to the HP Byron Nelson Championship this May.
Jon Drago @jddrago
HP Byron Nelson Championship