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Golf Is The Closest Game To The Game We Call Life

It is often said that the people we surround ourselves with, make us who we are. I have met many people along my golfing journey, but the people who have had the biggest impact on my life, beyond my family thus far, are those I met as a student-athlete at the University of California, Berkeley; and incredible journey in life I will never forget.

Growing up in the Singapore junior golf scene, I was ranked consistently in the top of my age group, and rose through the ranks quickly into the National Team. I did not encounter any major setbacks or plateaus in my game, until college.

Berkeley was a top-10 college golf program when I entered campus. I expected to dive straight into the team lineup for tournaments. Unfortunately, I missed the first event, the second, subsequently the third. Not long after, I was ranked last. I became disillusioned, stressed by trying to live up to expectations. I had lost sight of my love for golf, and contemplated leaving the team.

However, my teammates, specifically the benchwarmers, convinced me otherwise. With their support and encouragement, I persevered and never looked back. As I entered my third and fourth year, I transitioned to being the number five player on the team, and was in constant competition with the sixth for a spot in the travel lineup. Competing for that spot brought the nerve in me and instilled a sense of tenacity. Representing my team for the first time in two seasons was one of the highlights of my college career.

 Those two years as a benchwarmer was definitely a blessing in disguise – the positive attitudes of the other benchwarmers rubbed off on me. I changed my attitude and approach, which invariably led to less performance pressure and better scores.

My teammates taught me that sometimes all you need is the right perspective and everything will fall in place. There are no shortcuts. Sports will always hold a clear place in my heart, because it not only gives youths the opportunity to pursue higher education, but also learn how to identify and harness their determination and motivation to overcome challenges both in and outside the ropes. My experience in college has led me to mature faster than my peers. As a product of the college athletics system, I strongly believe that every athlete should seize the opportunity to play college sports in the U.S. This is why I have chosen to become an entrepreneur in the sports industry, with the goal of helping as many athletes in Asia pursue the U.S. college athletics route. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint hearted. My upbringing as an athlete has taught me one thing – having the right attitude will breed success.

Jo Ee Kok