While warming up on the driving range I had already met Ed and Steve. They were in Orlando for a conference and were playing hooky on the final day to sneak in a day on the links. As we now stood on the first tee, the sun was bright and warm in the Orlando sky and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day for a round of golf.
It was Steve who first noticed him. “Oh great…get a load of this.”
We turned and saw a tall, thin teenager approaching the tee box. He shouldered a worn out golf bag, and was sporting a tattoo on his arm which nicely accessorized his four inch neon yellow mohawk. Clearly, he was to be our fourth.
“I do not need this today,” moaned an exasperated Steve.
“Why do they even let people like this on the course?!” added Ed.
Still 30 yards behind us, the kid yelled, “”Y’all go ahead and hit. Let me swing for a couple of minutes to warm up.”
“Like that’s gonna help,” muttered Ed. “This could be a very long round.”
The three of us took turns teeing off and, for our first hole, each of our drives was respectable enough. The hole was a dogleg to the right and all of our shots landed in the fairway in the neighborhood of 250 yards away. We were off to a great start and the compliments were flowing: “Good ball.” “Nice shot.” “That’ll play.”
Then we turned to let “our fourth” come up and drive and were shocked to see that he was still 30 yards behind us, two tee boxes away, with his ball teed up where the professionals play.
When his club hit the ball, it sounded like a cannon. Our heads whipped around as we followed the flight of the ball straight toward the trees. But rather than drop out of the sky like our shots, his ball continued to rise, completely cutting the corner and landing in the fairway at least 75 yards closer to the green than any of our shots.
While Ed and Steve pulled away in their cart, I waited to share my cart with our newest companion. He slowly loped over to my cart and plopped his bag on the back.
“Great shot!” I said.
“Hit it a little thin,” he said. “But thanks.”
The three of us hit our approach shots on or near the green and then watched as this kid dropped a wedge to six feet from the hole. Then after about 20 minutes of watching us chip and putt, he stepped up drained his birdie putt.
The kid lipped out his eagle putt on hole 2 and tapped in for a second birdie. Needless to say Ed and Steve were now chatting it up with him…wanting to know what driver he was using, his thoughts on putters, what his best score was.
As he sat down next to me to ride over to the third tee, he grinned and said, “I hope I don’t slow them down too much.”
I laughed and said, “Me too, son. Nice birdie. Mom would have loved watching that one!”
Logan, my son, was a scratch golfer and on a number of junior PGA tours at the time. He was also the co-founder of a non-profit organization and had already literally travelled around the world building deep water wells in bush villages across Africa. He was and is truly a world changer.
But Ed and Steve almost missed getting to know what he could do.
Be aware of the preconceived notions you have of others. While none of us thinks we judge others, sadly we do it way more often than we think.
Slow down and give folks a chance before labeling them.