Inside Sports for Sunday — March 12, 2006

It’s been about three years since I took my last college exam, so when Mary Bea Porter-King asked if I would be interested in going through a Kaua’i Jr. Golf rules clinic and exam, I was hesitant at first, but because of my recent interest in the game, I decided to accept her offer.

And did I pass?

Well, I’ll get to that in just a minute, but first I’d like to share my experience with the youngsters, who at times showed great knowledge in areas in which most adults aren’t well-versed.

It is also widely known throughout the state that Kaua’i juniors are the leaders of knowing the rules of the game.

And that can be directly attributed to Mary Bea and her diligent staff, who make the clinics fun yet helpful for youths.

I arrived right on time at the Wailua Golf Course, where the clinic was being held, so I automatically received a two-stroke penalty (punctuality is imperative).

Then I realized that I violated the dress code by not wearing the proper attire, with every single Jr. Golfer dressed appropriately — black belts and all.

That meant another two-stroke penalty, so I already started off the day behind four strokes and I had yet to reach the tee box.

But after I calmed down thanks to Mary Bea’s welcoming demeanor, I carefully listened to each and every word she conveyed to the audience of youngsters, who were eager to answer questions, but at the same time remained quiet and attentive throughout the presentation.

Although the clinic was geared towards first- and second-year youths, it still served as an extremely helpful reminder that even at 25, there’s a lot to learn and not just in the game of golf.

And that’s what Mary Bea tried to engrain in the children’s minds: the very fact that golf is a game that teaches you a lot of lessons which you can use in life.

For one, it teaches you about integrity, which is the key component of the sport.

If you aren’t true to yourself on the course, how do you expect to be true to yourself off the course?

It doesn’t take a sign language interpreter to figure that one out, but you’d be surprised by how many individuals take this one important principle for granted.

Another attribute golf teaches you is respect. Not only does it teach you to respect others, but it helps you understand that it’s extremely important to respect the course you’re playing on.

Finally, golf teaches you humility. I think every golfer finds out about this when they think they are making progress.

Once you think you’re good, you find out how much further you really have to go.

I’ve been playing for about six months, and I still have problems with every club in my bag.

Sometimes it all comes together, but that’s a rarity and I know I’m not alone in my pursuit to improve.

And speaking of improvement, well, as the clinic came to and end on the putting green, Mary Bea reminded the group of about 50 junior golfers that if they listened and paid attention, they’d do just fine on the test.

So after she said that, I began to let go a sigh of relief, because I thought I’d be in trouble since it was my very first rules clinic.

When the exams were handed out, I breezed through the first 10 questions with no trouble, but there were a few bumps along the way.

However, after my pencil ran out of lead, I handed my test in to be corrected.

After seeing a few red marks on the front and back of the two-sided test, I was almost certain that I’d fail, but let’s just say that my four strokes I gave up at the start were erased, thanks to a passing grade!

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