I’ve always been fascinated with how hard golf is. Seriously. I’m kind of a perfectionist, so golf was really the game for me. Everything comes down to the tiniest details. It motivates me to get better.
Perhaps, that’s why my dad loves it too. He was the one who helped me get into golf. We would play all the time when I was a kid. It got to the point where I was golfing almost every single day.
And soon, all the effort began to pay off. In eighth grade, I started to realize I may have a future in this. It doesn’t have to be just a hobby. I became motivated to do this moving forward. Done with baseball. Done with basketball. Golf was now my sole focus.
In high school, I rose to the point of being the top-rated prospect in the country. It seemed like my plan was fully in motion. Go to college, then the pros. I was well on my way.
But then, life happened.
The best plans never seem to pan out the way you hope for, right?! And this was no different for me.
So far, my college career hasn’t really been ideal, but through what was arguably the most challenging time of my life, I learned something very important… something that turned me into a more focused, a more grateful player.
Before I get to it, I should probably start with how I got there. As I mentioned, I was a top prospect out of high school, giving me a lot of options for college.
I had been on quite a few visits, but nothing ever compared to Alabama. As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew … I knew this is where I wanted to go to college. Where I wanted to earn my degree, cheer on the football team, live a college life. It felt a lot like home. Being from Tennessee, it was good to stay in the south too.
Besides, Alabama has an amazing golf program and prepared many golfers for a pro career. After all, I also dream of being a pro golfer one day.
The tipping point was the amazing group of coaches. Instantly, I connected with them. No doubt, they were a good fit for me. Before I knew it, I was part of the Alabama family.
And shortly after, I would discover just how lucky I was to be here.
It all started in my senior year of high school. My lower back began to cause some issues. I kind of dismissed it. It was annoying, but I could play through it.
Once I got to college, the pain got worse, but I didn’t want to be “that guy”. I couldn’t be nagged by a tiny injury. I decided to just “rub some dirt on it” and tough it out.
It was a decision I would later regret.
I had some success my freshman year. Played some good tournaments and could contribute to a great team season that almost ended with a national title. But because of my back, I never really reached the level I hoped to get to.
So, I was determined to have an even better sophomore year.
But the summer between freshman and sophomore year is when my hip started to bother me. Like the back pain, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. Despite the struggles, I had a pretty successful fall, but it continued to get worse.
During our first spring tournament in Puerto Rico, I could tell something was really off. My hip just felt terrible. Like, nothing I’ve ever felt before.
After talking to my coaches and trainers, we decided it’d be best for me to take the next couple of weeks off. I tried yoga, stretching, light workouts. Nothing worked. And I started to get a bit nervous.
That’s when I went in for the MRI. The news was not good.
I had a pretty bad hip impingement, as well as a torn labrum. Certainly not what I was hoping to hear. At that point, it wasn’t a matter of if I needed surgery… it was a matter of when.
Naturally, I wanted to push the surgery off. Of course, I wanted to stay out there with my teammates and compete. So, that’s what I did, or at least tried. I would take these cortisone shots before practice and meets that would help, but in the end, they didn’t do enough.
I knew, if I ever wanted to return to form, I had to have surgery. I couldn’t put it off any longer.
Remember how I mentioned earlier how lucky I was to be at Alabama?! That was no truer than when I had my surgery.
The staff was so incredibly helpful. I was in awe of how quickly they worked. Just four days after I decided to have the surgery, I was on my way to the hospital.
Going into the surgery, on April 5th, I was pretty terrified, not going to lie. After all, it was my first surgery ever. But I knew that I was in very capable hands. The best hands, actually. I knew I was going to be alright.
Thinking back, this situation is actually quite relatable to golfing. Sometimes, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Many things are out of your control. Often, the best thing you can do is trust the process. And so I did.
I thought that not being able to play golf would get me down, like I wouldn’t want to even think about it.
I was dead wrong on that.
I don’t think I ever watched more golf than I did that summer. It wasn’t just enjoyable; it was also a chance to learn. I was able to see golf from a new perspective. Usually, when I play, I’m very emotional, very passionate. Not everything is clear. But watching these pros on TV, I actually learned a few things. How they dealt with certain situations, how they prepared, strategies, etc.
As much as the recovery process sucked, this was definitely a positive that came out of the entire situation. When you have to be on crutches for a month and don’t get to touch a golf club for four months, it’s not always easy to keep a positive mindset. So, finding this outlet was really important for my recovery.
Now, roughly five months after the surgery, I’m back at practice, hoping to regain my old form that allowed me to be one of the top recruits in the nation.
My first day back, I remember walking to the chipping green. The first shot wasn’t exactly what I expected. It took me a while to get my swing back. The good thing was, once I started getting into a rhythm, like fifteen shots, I could kind of feel the juices flowing.
I was starting to regain confidence.
Physically, there are good and bad days. But even on the bad ones, I now feel like I’m almost there.
Still, if this process has taught me anything, it’s that I need to be patient. I can’t rush back.
That’s honestly my biggest regret too. I shouldn’t have tried to tough it out initially. I should’ve gotten the help I needed right away. A little patience goes a long way, and that’s where my head needs to be at.
My personal goal for the season is to be completely healthy by the end of it. I know that’ll take a lot of that patience. I won’t be playing at the level I want to be in my first tournaments.
Remaining patient, remaining persistent in my climb back is the key to me returning to form. If all goes according to plan, I can return to the golf I want to be playing. Back to being on top and helping my team compete for a national title.