Tom Cousins Award winning essay: 'How The Game of Golf Changed My Life'

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 3, 2015, 2:00 am

By Alex Burge, University of Illinois (Click here to read Laura Lonardi's winning essay)

The saying “it’s more than a game” may be cliché, but to me golf truly is more than a game. I have been playing golf for 15 years, and it has taught me many life skills and offered many incredible experiences. But when I tried to zero in on one way it has changed my life it dawned on me, my relationship with my father, my hero, was developed through this game.

Until a few years ago, my father was deaf. Without a doubt, this was a difficult thing to overcome as a young boy; the impatient eight year old I used to be did not want to spend an extra five minutes to have a simple exchange. After injuries ended my father’s tennis career, he picked up the game of golf. I tagged along when I could after school, and we would play a few holes most evenings. The slow pace of the game created an atmosphere where communication at his pace seemed normal, my anxious eight-year-old self began to listen to his great stories and advice. My father and myself were becoming best friends through the game of golf.

As my game grew and I began to take it more seriously, we started travelling to tournaments together. At this point the communication barrier had mostly been broken, I had become patient enough to easily communicate with him. For years and years we spent weekends in hotels together, breakfasts at the local pancake house, and countless hours of car rides to talk about whatever we could think of. Reflecting back on these moments, I cannot imagine growing up without golf. It’s not that I cannot imagine playing the game, it’s that I can’t imagine what it would have been like if golf hadn’t given me the opportunity to build an everlasting relationship with my father. Listening to my father’s stories, watching how he conducted himself and treated people while we were travelling, and realizing how blessed I was to have him as my dad are moments and lessons I have learned that will never be forgotten or underutilized.

As a young boy, I always wanted to move from activity to activity. One moment it may have been BMX biking, the next I wanted to play basketball with my friends, the next moment I wanted to swim; but none of these activities provided an outlet and built-in time to spend with my father. Golf did. Golf had an inherent slow-pace that relaxed me and had me stationary enough to build this relationship. Golf has been the easiest way for my father and I to spend quality time together and just be boys playing a game.

My father is my hero; he served in the United States Army, played junior tennis events against Arthur Ashe, built a company from the ground up, had a scholarship offer to play quarterback for the University of Miami, and countless other accolades. But the thing that comes to mind first for me about Wilson Burge is none of those, I think of him as the greatest father I could ever dream of. Without the game of golf, I’m not sure if the impatient eight year old I used to be would have taken the time to truly get to know this amazing man. Golf changed my life, and continues to change my life, because it introduced me to my father the way a young boy should be introduced, with patience and a willingness to listen and learn. Golf introduced me to my hero. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.