1. When did you start playing golf? What sparked your initial interest?
I learned to play golf when I was 10 years old, but the spark came later. My parents started playing golf after they were married because it was an activity they could do together. My two older brothers learned to play, and the next thing I knew, it was a family affair. At first, I resisted playing golf, so my parents let me drive the golf cart and gave me the important role of being the group photographer. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was learning to love being outside on the golf course without even picking up a club. My middle brother, Matt, played competitively, and I was dragged around to his tournaments. Instead of watching him play (which was incredibly boring to a 10-year-old), I decided to pick up a club and go to the driving range.
The “spark” happened one day when a female PGA professional came out of the pro shop, walked over to me and quite sternly said, “You have a great natural swing and should be out on the course.” That was the incentive I needed. It drove me to take golf more seriously and push myself. I ultimately entered the same competitive world as my brother and no longer simply watched him play. I took lessons next to him, practiced side by side with him, competed with him and later played in tournaments around the country with him.
2. Research shows that involvement in sports helps build confidence. How do you think your involvement in sports has shaped your leadership abilities?
After I joined the golf team in high school, my golf game clicked. With the support of my teammates and coach, I became more confident in my game. I entered sophomore year as co-captain of the team. Later, I would become captain of my college team. Getting hands-on leadership experience at an early age was invaluable, and being part of a team helped get me out of my comfort zone, improve communication and develop important leadership skills. Golf has taught me the following three leadership lessons:
- Trust Your Gut. Who hasn’t made the mistake of overthinking a decision, listening too much to a naysayer or not pushing back hard enough when you instinctively know something is right? Golf has taught me to listen to my gut instinct. The ability to make and trust quick decisions based on experience are important to effective leadership.
- Recover Graciously. Golf is a mental game. Bad shots are inevitable. How you recover from bad shots or bad bounces often defines your score. Disappointments are inevitable in golf and life. Moving on, adapting and problem-solving are essential to success.
- Always Carry Yourself As If People Are Watching. Whether you are teeing off on the first hole in front of a crowd or playing a round with friends, someone is always watching you play. It is the nature of the game. I have been fortunate to play golf with complete strangers and folks of all ages. This has helped me get comfortable with the spotlight and understand that when leading, you need to always be on.