Lessons from the tee

Senior discusses what golf taught her


Photo by Peyton Sims

Graci Henard eyes the green as she prepares for her next putt. Throughout her high school golf career, Henard learned many valuable lessons.

Story by Graci Henard , staff writer

As I walked down the fairway of my last hole as a Lady Tiger, so many emotions whirled through my mind. I was heartbroken. I had fallen short of one of my biggest goals, sad that it was the last time Huntze would coach me, and disappointed in myself. The moment felt surreal, and I wanted it to stop, just for two seconds, so I could catch my breath and prepare myself for the reality I faced.

To say that my senior year was a disappointment would be an understatement. I didn’t win district like I was expected to, I didn’t make a second day comeback that I was expected to, and I didn’t advance to state like I was expected to. I felt like a disappointment to myself, my team and my family.

In the spring of my freshman year, I won my first high school golf tournament. I remember the excitement I felt and the words of my late coach, Jay Brewer: “This will be the first of many.” Those words echoed in my head from that moment up until my last tournament with him, and it still reminded me everyday of the belief he had in me.

I went into my senior year believing that I would leave Texas High with a district and regional medal, that I would be known for my skills on the course. Over my four years on the golf team, though, I learned some valuable lessons, most of which I didn’t find out until my senior year. 

The first thing I learned is being a good person is better than being a good golfer. Over my first three years on the team, I was more worried about beating my opponents than greeting my opponents. I was prideful and arrogant when I stepped on the tee, but then I realized that in the future, no one will remember what you shot or scored, they will remember how you treated them. This is true for any sport, not just golf. 

This year, I lost the district title by one stroke. I was angry at myself and disappointed, but I had to swallow my pride and accept the fact that the girl who beat me was celebrating. Freshman me would have never done this, but I went up and hugged her. I told her I was proud and that she would do great things. I’m not saying this to tell how great of a person I am, but to highlight my character development over the years. No one will remember what you shot, they will remember how you treat them.

I also learned that a number doesn’t define you. I got so caught up in my score they wrote on the board that I didn’t focus on the moments that lead up to that score; the moments I could have used as learning experiences to improve for the future. Once a round was finished, I would try to relive it and focus on my mistakes. What I should have been doing, though, was focusing on the positives. If you dwell on the negatives, that’s all you’ll remember for the next time. I had to learn to like 10 things about myself and my round so that I could grow as a person, but also as a player.

My sophomore year, I was determined to win a specific tournament. When things began to slip, so did my morale. I began to panic and get frustrated and when I realized the end number was going to be higher than I wanted, I started to try to make putts fall in, which resulted in an even higher score, and those emotions carried over to my next tournament. I had to learn to weed out all the bad memories, and plant the good shots in my head.

The last thing that has been revealed to me over the years is that sometimes you don’t rise to the occasion. During the Jay Brewer Memorial Lady Tiger Classic, I was five shots down with four to play. It seemed impossible, but after those four holes were finished, I had tied my opponent. Moving to regionals, I was one of four girls fighting for one spot to advance to state, and I expected myself to rise to the occasion. I concluded that tournament with a high score and had to face the reality that I did not advance to state.

Some days, the putts fall, the shots drop, the passes are received. But others, the putts roll by, the shots hit the rim, and the passes are incomplete. 

Sometimes, though, you learn the most from those missed putts and incomplete passes. Wins are built on a foundation of losses. Without the hard truth of failure, the foundation would be weak. No, failure does not define you, but it should inspire you. 

These things that I have learned are lessons that I will take with me to college and beyond. Each of these lessons are applicable to every sport, activity and hobby. I would not have gotten to this point without the encouragement from my parents, moments with Coach Huntze or the constructive criticism from my peers. 

Although my season did not end the way I had planned, I know that God is going to use my experiences and these lessons I’ve learned to influence those around me. My time as a Lady Tiger was filled with laughs and cries, moments to celebrate and moments to grow. I will cherish every memory as I move on to the next stage of my life.