This week is the annual KC Golf Classic held at the Nicklaus Golf Club at Lionsgate. As a new Kansas City resident, I eagerly signed up to volunteer, excited for the opportunity to be close to professional golfers aspiring to qualify for the PGA Tour. (They don’t know it, but I’m secretly living vicariously through them this week.) I signed up to work the driving range, as well as be a walking scorer, and it has been such an incredible experience.
On Monday, my daughters and I had the opportunity to meet Jared Wolfe, who was so kind to share some of his time chatting with my 8-year-old and showing her his golf clubs. I wrote a post about him on Tuesday that you can read here.
On Tuesday afternoon while working on the range, I had the opportunity to meet Carlos Sainz Jr, a Web.com Tour veteran who was working on his swing with his caddie, David Kalpak. As the day wore on, Carlos paused to chat with me, a grown man who felt like a kid in a candy shop. He shared his thoughts on hitting the driver and what he focuses on to be successful on tour.
As fate would have it, I had the opportunity to be his group’s walking scorer on Friday afternoon, and I was able to observe first-hand a professional golfer at work. He shot even par, which unfortunately left him three shots out of qualifying for the weekend, so his tournament was over. In the midst of his disappointment, he took the time to sign a golf ball for my daughters, asking their names and leading the other two golfers in his group to do the same.
The next day, after the remaining competitors had teed off for their third round, Carlos and David arrived to the driving range to put in the work to get better. With hardly any other players on the range, I had the opportunity to chat with them a little more about golf, and then our conversation became sharing stories, about golf and about life. As I hung out with Carlos and his caddie, learning more about them and their journey, what impressed me most about Carlos was the way he treated everyone around him, as well as his conviction to be excellent in what he is doing.
Golf is a rare entity in life in which people (like me and thousands of other spectators) come out to watch someone do their job, which is unlike any other profession and even unlike any other sport. Fans can walk with the players on each hole and literally be right next to a player on an errant shot, and spectators don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to be so close like those sitting courtside at a basketball game. I mean, seriously, can you imagine people coming into your office to watch you type up an email and ask you questions about it? It’s quite odd, and yet Carlos was so gracious with his time. He answered my questions and gave advice to help me be a better golfer, and he took time from his practice to listen as I shared some stories with him. He did the same thing during his round, as we walked down the fairway and between holes.
Carlos also had a great sense of where he’s been, playing on multiple tours, including the PGA Tour in 2015, and where he’s going. He’s convinced he has the ability to get back to the big tour, and he’s willing to put in the time to get there. As we were discussing hitting the driver, he described the level of belief a tour player must have to be successful, and it reminded me that we all need to believe in what we are doing to truly achieve excellence, regardless of what it is.
What’s greatest about Carlos is that he is a follower of Jesus, which makes it no surprise he is focused on treating people well and pursuing excellence in his life. As Jesus reminds us in John 13:35, people will know we are His followers when we love one another. And the Apostle Paul encourages us to be excellent in his first letter to the Corinthians (10:31). Carlos embodies both of these attributes, and I am now rooting for Carlos: to play well, to make it back to the PGA Tour, and to continue to be a committed follower of Jesus out there on tour.
Play well, Carlos, and be blessed, my friend. Glad our paths crossed this week.