Hall of Fame speaker Joel Weldon is my speech coach. He says we have not one, not two, not even three mentors but 10,000. It is his belief that mentor/protégé relationships aren’t all formal. We learn from everyone.
We learn — are mentored — watching others do things. Perhaps we notice something a good golfer does in her swing. Or the way someone deftly uses humor to advance a conversation. If you have small children, maybe you’ve seen another parent reprimand a child in manner that caused you to think I would NEVER do that! Mentors. Every one.
I expanded my cadre of mentors when I attended the 2016 LPGA Rolex Awards banquet at the PGA Merchandise Show in January. In fact, I’m sure every person in attendance gained new mentors. The speakers were authentic, inspiring and memorable.
Sara Doell, Seton Hall Women’s Head Golf Coach, was named the LPGA T&CP National Coach of the Year. One of the things she said that received lots of knowing nods from the crowd was, “How you react to your ball in a divot is revealing.” It happens to everyone, not often, but when it does it tests your composure and attitude even more than it challenges your skill swinging a club. Does it frustrate you, or do you take it in stride and make the best of an unfortunate circumstance?
Alison Curdt, 2015 LPGA National Teacher of the Year, used the motivational metaphor of an equilateral triangle to explain how you might picture your life, your drive, your contributions to society. “Take a look at your triangle, with its base on the bottom and the tip at the very top,” she said. “Inside the triangle, the bottom and middle are full. Yet there’s room at the top.” We all know we have room in our lives to do more, be more, reach higher and go farther. That was her point — strive to be in the top of the triangle. She gave credit for the metaphor to Dana Radar, who also received an award.
Dana received the 2015 Ellen Griffin Rolex Award, which the LPGA established in 1989 to honor Ellen Griffin, who is considered by many to be the best-known woman golf teacher in American history. Ellen taught near Greensboro, NC at a teaching facility called “The Farm,” which really was a farm. One evening when Dana was there back in the 1980s, Ellen called her to come quickly to the barn. A cow was giving birth. Dana was 20 and couldn’t imagine anything more gross than watching the birth of a calf. But Ellen insisted. “It is important to see something being born. You must move forward from where you are.” (Upward in your triangle?) Dana also told the audience that it is important to have “the gift of gab.” Today we call it “networking.”
LPGA great and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Nancy Lopez, told the story of going to the Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open with her father at her side. She was 15 and excited to see some of the players up close. Her father had been saving money so he could take Nancy to the tournament.
She was anxious to see one player in particular and imagined even being so lucky as to meet him. They positioned themselves perfectly to see the players as they came out. Suddenly there he was! She could hardly believe it. But just as he neared where they stood, a gentleman in front of Nancy asked the player for an autograph. “I don’t have time for this!” the player snapped.
To this day Nancy gives thanks to that player because, she says, he made her a better person. She vowed never to to be like him. That’s why, when you meet Nancy, you can count on a pleasant greeting, a smile, an autograph, even a joke.
Annika Sorenstam spoke earlier in the morning at the We Are the Women in Golf LPGA breakfast. She talked about the LPGA Leadership Academy, which provides programming for girls age 15 to 18, and is sponsored by the AKSA Foundation, believed to be the largest insurance company committed to women.
Fighting back tears Annika said, “I want to be a part of the LPGA Leadership Academy for my little girl. I want her to know that she can do it, do it big and do it hard.” She left the stage in tears, displaying a sensitivity that many have never seen.
After the weeklong conference, like many others, I left with countless new mentors. Joel Weldon is right. Mentors are everywhere.
Learn something new every day and turn golf into gold®!