I am extremely humbled to receive the Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award. To be presented with an award that represents giving back, sportsmanship, and integrity means the world to me.
There are three groups of people I must thank for teaching me the values Mr. Cole embodied so well: the AJGA, my friends and my family.
These people set me on the path to become who I am today.
For the fourth year in a row, my family ran the Carolina Cup in 2020. For this event, 28 junior golfers team up to raise money for The Nicklaus Children's Healthcare Foundation and AJGA's ACE Grant program.
To be eligible to play in the event, each junior must raise at least $1,000. Over the last four years, Carolina Cup participants have raised around $250,000, and more than $70,000 in 2020 alone.
The past four years I've led the Carolina Cup gave me an entirely new perspective on life and on golf. It helped give less importance to making a bogey, and more to helping others.
While I receive accolades for this event, it is Beth Dockter from the AJGA who makes the Carolina Cup possible, and teaches kids, like myself, the vitality of helping those less fortunate. The AJGA, along with Mrs. Dockter, taught me how to use my talents to give back, and I know Mr. Cole would have been extremely proud of that accomplishment.
I am naturally very competitive, and I hate to lose.
In the past, I was not always gracious in defeat. My friends showed me how to handle those situations the right way. Seeing them handle pain and disappointment with incredible sportsmanship showed me how to better compose myself.
I have been lucky to surround myself with some of the most amazing kids, who not only are world-class golfers but who are also world-class people. Mr. Cole would be so glad to know that junior golfers show such class even in their toughest moments.
Finally, my parents have profoundly impacted my life. They taught me how to love and laugh, but also to be serious and persistent. To be caring and empathetic, yet ambitious and self-sufficient. Never once did I see my mom and dad take the easy way out; they always worked their hardest to give me a better life. By seeing their hard work and sacrifices, I learned the value of integrity. I believe by living truthfully, good things will come. There is nothing I could ever do to adequately thank them for all these lessons.
Thank you for the honor of receiving the 2020 Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award. Unfortunately, I never got the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cole, but I have heard many wonderful things about him. His love for the AJGA, and the AJGA's hats, was unmatched.
I am so proud to carry on Mr. Cole's legacy, and I will strive to represent this award with all I do in the future. This moment will always hold a special place in my heart, because it is not won as a result of a golf tournament.
To see my efforts off the golf course recognized is an amazing feeling. To find purpose and build a solid identity outside of golf has changed my perspective on life. I hope it can change other lives, through me, as well.