Some of golf’s brightest moments in 2021 grew out of the darkness | Golf news and tour information

by | Dec 10, 2021 | Golf Courses

Cathryn Brown stood nervously on the first tee, but she didn’t struggle with her nerves on the first tee because what was flowing through her mind, body, and soul was a current that was much stronger than nervousness. Brown, 16, one of Kentucky’s better amateur golfers, had seen ceremonial drives before, including three weeks earlier at the Barbasol Championship on the PGA Tour. She understood the contradiction in front of her: For a swing that doesn’t count, it’s a swing that means more than any number on a scorecard. Brown also knew why she was here, which was to honor someone who wasn’t.

Cathryn lost her brother Cullan to a rare form of bone cancer last year. To the world, Cullan was an all-SEC standout on the University of Kentucky golf team. For Cathryn he was her confidante, her role model, her accomplice and friend. “Everyone loved him and he loved everyone,” says Cathryn. “It brought nothing but joy.” When such light goes out, life can appear oppressive and irrevocably dark.

But through the tears came Macey Brown (no relative), a golfer who lived two hours away and whom Cathryn met at a junior event a month before Cullan’s death. They recognized a soulmate in each other, and so, despite the distance, Macey and Cahtryn would meet up every weekend to play. When golf wasn’t on the agenda, there were sea voyages and birthday surprises and countless long phone calls late into the night. Macey made sure that Cathryn continued and, just as important, that Cullan would accompany her.

“On the outside, she’s so cute and so funny and she has a big heart, but only when I can see her going through this and know what’s going on inside, as a friend, it’s your job to make her shine leave out, ”says Macey.

Adds Cathryn, “I met my best friend exactly when I needed a best friend.”

Because of this, Macey was part of a crowd that encircled Cathryn on an August morning at the first tee at Mineral Mound State Park Golf Course in Eddyville, Kentucky. Cullan was exactly a year to the day, and they were there to celebrate his life. Part of that celebration included renaming the course “The Cullan at Mineral Mound,” and the christening should be official with Cathryn’s opening tee.

Golf is an institution in which life’s hardships can be paused, if only for a few hours. At least that is the prevailing opinion, and it certainly can be. However, our world has recently been marked by discord and hostility. Of danger and fear, suffering and hurt. Even within the quiet confines of a golf course, the real world seeps in.

If golf continues to do better, the game’s most heartwarming moments seemed to resonate in 2021 because they serve as a window to the virtue that lies within. Golf has been blessed with many moments like this this year, and often those moments have been brought about by the very pain they are battling.

There was Lee Elder, who got his long overdue spotlight when he tees off alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as honorary starters in the Masters. Elder was absent because he has a green jacket; he was there because he showed them a man at his best in the face of the worst men. Elder had a right to be bitter about what he experienced for his pioneering endeavors. He avoided these feelings in favor of grace.

“My heart is very soft this morning, not heavy, soft, soft because of the wonderful things that have happened to me since arriving here on Monday,” Elder said that Thursday in April. “I just want to thank you so much for being here. It’s a great honor and I appreciate it very much and will always cherish it. “

Unfortunately, the moment was taken advantage of by a brazen display of greed as Player’s son Wayne hovered in the background trying to commercialize the ceremony. But a master who started with a moment of greed ended with a moment of gratitude, the former contextualizing the latter and the latter minimizing the former. Shota Hayafuji, Hideki Matsuyama’s caddy, raised the flag on the 18th and bowed to the track, a gesture to honor what his boss did and where he did and what Matsuyama’s triumph for so many around the world meant.

Sometimes moments of well-being arise from correcting an injustice. The NCAA (an organization that manages to start five alarm fires with only candles on a birthday cake) put an end to the championship pursuits of 12 teams in the Women’s Regional in Baton Rouge by canceling the event – and for some of the women in turn their college End your career – because of bad weather. It was a controversial decision, and some found it was being handled clumsily and somewhat callously. “Although the course is playable,” one official told the teams, “it is not playable at championship level.” Although the women received a flood of support, there is no pain reliever to relieve the burns of a smoke-filled goal. Barstool Sports’ podcast host Sam “Riggs” Bozoian gave those affected a second chance by hosting an alternative event, aptly named “Let Them Play” Classic, at the Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Arizona recharge donated for free. The players were given the opportunity to end their season on their terms.

Moments of wellbeing can be relieving. After Jon Rahm cruelly and very publicly tore the memorial out of its grip with a positive COVID test, Jon Rahm responded emphatically at the US Open, which was made especially sweet by the new father’s victory on Father’s Day. Jordan Spieth spent most of three years in the wild just to reappear and remind us that he is the most exciting force (aside from a certain 15-time major winner) in the sport.

Moments of wellbeing can be bittersweet. This is embodied by Brian Morris, a club professional fighting terminal cancer who received a sponsorship waiver to make his PGA Tour debut. Or seen in Matthew Wolff, who found a feel-good moment with Torrey Pines while he was still searching for himself.

Moments of well-being can be balanced out. Joel Dahmen’s breakthrough in the Dominican Republic came at the expense of Rafael Campo’s heartbreaking heartbreak, and even the most ardent American fan had to feel the emotional reaction of Rory McIlroy at the end of the Ryder Cup. Moments of well-being can have darker downsides: The Advocates Tour and its players are finally getting the opportunities they deserve, but the newly discovered platform underscored how miserably separate our game remains.

Yes, there are unadulterated stories. Megha Ganne stole the show at the Olympics. Rachel Rohanna was the first mother to take the Symetra tour. Phil Mickelson sent Father Time to the screen. But the most important thing about most feel-good stories is that they come after millions of moments off the limelight saying they wouldn’t, a feeling best captured by Michael Visacki, who was in qualifying on Monday and is famous in the viral clips. “We’re not exactly a crying family, but I think we all cried for the first time in a long time,” Visacki said at the Valspar Championship, “because we knew how much work and effort, blood, sweat? Your tears flowed into me when I tried to make it and finally to be able to do it, it’s a dream come true. “

That’s why we are drawn to these moments. Be inspired. So that dreams come true. Be filled with hope.

In this country, sport can be given priority over more pressing issues and issues, and sometimes that noise needs to be dismissed as a matter of urgency. In the same breath, sport remains one of the few ships that can bring this culture, which has been shared over and over, together. In our forest this ship is golf. What brings us in can vary. But his moments of wellbeing, big and small, embody the idea that it can be more than just a game. Something worth caring about and cheering about. Something that can make you feel warm inside when everything else feels cold.

A few months after Cullan died, the craziest happened: Macey and Cathryn were paired together in the Kentucky State Championship, on the same course on which Cullan won no less a State title. Each wanted to hit the other; they are competitive golfers after all. But the beauty of this day and the chance and, yes, the moment had not escaped them. “It felt like fate,” admits Cathryn. Macey had a four-shot lead over Cathryn after Round 1 of the 36-hole event, and in Round 2 Macey’s score earned her a place in a playoff for the singles championship. Using a ball engraved with Cullan’s name, she won the first sudden death hole by par to win the state championship.

“I knew he was with me in the end,” says Macey. “I prayed in front of the extra hole and asked him to just take care of me. I definitely felt how he pulled me to the end. “

One of the first to congratulate Macey when she got off the green was Cathryn. Both say they aren’t screamers, but some moments require exceptions. Eight months later the tears had welled up again, only this time the wet eyes belonged to the crowd that Cathryn had just watched long and safely at the ceremonial drive at the Cullan. There she greeted the sister she had won when she had lost a brother. Cathryn Brown knows that no matter how dark life gets, there is always room for light.