Inside Sports for Wednesday —April 12, 2006

As an amateur golfer myself, I’ll admit to sometimes ignoring a penalty I committed to shave a few strokes off my score.

But when you’re golfing with “Joe Sixpack” and friends, it’s not all that uncommon.

I know many individuals who have gone through a round of 18 without ever taking a mulligan.

However, I think I know many more who don’t obey the rules and take shot or two, or three off their final tally.

On Saturday, it was a pleasure to find out about the great deed Kaua’i High School golfer Mike Garcia committed at the Puakea Golf Course.

Let’s just say he deserves a golf clap.

But why? Well, after landing his shot in the bunker of the 16th hole, Garcia went on with his business, climbed into the sand trap, and pictured the shot in his mind.

However, his club betrayed him and he ended up letting it touch the sand, or grounding it without attempting to hit the ball.

That’s a two-stroke penalty.

Wow, that must’ve hurt, but not Garcia, who took the penalty in stride.

Instead of finishing up at even-par 72, he managed to shoot a 2-over-par 74 in the latest KIF golf match.

What made the honest mistake an even sweeter story to tell, was the fact that no one was around him at the time.

How easy would’ve it been to just not admit what he did. I mean the ball didn’t even move.

I don’t think anyone saw, not even a chicken or rooster.

Garcia said it never even crossed his mind to not take the penalty and admit his mistake.

So where does this type of integrity come from? Well of course, he gets it from his parents.

Beyond mom and dad though, there’s the Kaua’i Junior Golf Association, which is the breeding ground for collegiate golfers.

Just look around the nation.

There’s Shelcie Takenouchi at USC, Jennie Pleas in Reno, Lehua Wise in New Mexico, Ki’ilani Matsuyoshi at UH-Hilo, and Rachel Kyono, who just finished up a brilliant collegiate career at Pepperdine.

But there’s many more and there’ll be more to come, just stay tuned.

Mary Bea Porter-King and her staff do amazing things with Kaua’i’s youths, who are in great hands with the KJGA.

But getting back to Garcia, who had the pleasure of playing with the likes of Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Michael Campbell, and Phil Mickelson at last year’s Grand Slam of Golf, who represents what the program is truly about — integrity.

It carries over into the game of life, which is much more important in the long run.

Garcia said it best when he told me he just couldn’t see himself winning that way.

It was a careless mistake, but the lesson learned from that moment is priceless.

His club may have hit the sand without anyone watching, but the most important person was really playing the witness, which was himself, and Garcia made the best decision by listening to his own voice.

And that’s grounds for a golf clap!

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