Part 4: At Age 14, A Difficult Decision To Follow My Dream…
Looking back at my childhood, it was full of fun, and playing and excelling at many different sports played a large part in that.
I was a great hitter in baseball due to all of the practice that I did at the batting cages, and I was lucky to be blessed with great reflexes. I made the All Star league in the final year of playing baseball. I was also a decent martial artist growing up, again mostly due to a lot of hard work and dedication, and because I knew the only way to be good at martial arts was to practice what I learned. I was one belt shy of earning my black belt in my final year of doing martial arts as a kid.
Basketball was pretty much the only sport that I played that I did not play well. Being the shortest player out there probably did not help me very much – I was only 5 feet tall at age 14 when I entered high school. I was a shrimp when I entered high school!
As I was beginning high school, I had a very difficult decision to make – do I continue spending time on baseball and martial arts, both of which I loved, or do I go after my dream of becoming a professional golfer and dedicate my time to that? It was a hard decision, but these two sports took up a lot of time, and if I wanted to be a professional golfer, I needed to spend that time on golf. My aim was to make the varsity team in High School, then get onto a team in college, and go on from there. So, I quit the other sports and focused on making the varsity team at Taft High as a freshman.
To this day I still remember the moment I stepped into the golf coach’s office because it was my first day in school at Taft High, and I wanted to introduce myself to him. I was there to tell him that I was going to be playing for his team. He told me that tryouts for the Junior Varsity team were coming up and I replied I was not interested in the Junior Varsity team, but the regular Varsity team.
He said, “freshman do not play on the Varsity team”. I asked him, “if I beat your best varsity players, then will I get to play on the varsity team?” He replied “yeah, sure, but that won’t happen”. So, he set up a match between his best Varsity players and me. I did beat them, and so I started as a freshman on the Varsity team. We went undefeated and all the way to the state championship.
After my freshman year, my parents moved to Westlake Village. There, I played for Agoura High School on the Varsity team all 3 years. We had an excellent team each year and qualified for the CIF finals a couple of those years. At this point, I felt as if I had made the right decision to pursue my golfing dream. My next goal was to earn a golf scholarship for college and play on their golf team. I remember having no one to help me much with this, other than my teachers sending me letters of recommendation. A lot of colleges wanted me to come to their school as a walk on (no golf scholarship), which meant there was no guarantee of me being on the team. I remember feeling lost as my parents had no experience of college, so they did not know how to prepare me at all.
The summer after my senior year of high school was fun because I got to play golf with my brother, and the friends we had made at my father’s country club. Life seemed pretty good, but some challenges were coming my way; college, a girlfriend, my golf game, and some financial hurdles…