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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Young golfer appreciates those before him

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You Tube. Twitter. FaceBook. Text and instant messages.

What happened to reading, and learning about things in this world that happened before we were born? If it’s not on one of the previously aforementioned social networking platforms, then it did not happen as far as many today are concerned.

I admit, young people today are light years more intelligent than I was at their age. But I do know there is a wealth of things, both good and bad, that occurred before I was born. However, it remains puzzling to me when young people do not recognize and embrace history.

When I had the opportunity to learn about Kenneth Crowder, I was both excited and impressed to talk to a young man who not only excels at the game of golf, but can also talk to you about the history of the game of golf B.T. (Before Tiger).

Recently, the 14-year-old aspiring golfer served as a standard bearer for the U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind.

A thankless task you might say, but Crowder tackled the assignment with great zeal and took advantage of an opportunity to be amongst golfers he had followed and respected for some time; names like Jim Thorpe and Jim Dent. This young man can also talk to you in detail about the stars who are now retired, such as Calvin Peete and the legendary Lee Elder.

“I started playing golf at age seven and quickly discovered a desire for it,” stated the polite and articulate Crowder who is a freshman at Hamilton Southeastern. “It is something that I derive great enjoyment from.”

Despite his reluctentcy to speak about his numerous accomplishments, they are indeed worthy of recognition.

Crowder has distinguished himself on the amateur circuit with competition through numerous tournaments conducted by The First Tee, which as an initiative of the World Golf Foundation developed in 1997. Crowder has also played at a high level in the Indiana State Golf League, The Indy Junior Golf Association, as well as the Mountain Dew National Tournaments for young golfers.

While achieving honors and winning tournaments along the way has become a common place, what really impresses one about this young man is his sense of history and the acknowledgement of those who opened doors for African-Americans golfers. He spoke with conviction and a sense of awareness about those iconic figures, while expressing gratitude for their accomplishments as well.

“My parents and my grandparents pointed people out to me that made an impact in this sport,” explained Crowder.

From that, he has committed to reading about and following the play of some of the most influential and successful competitors in the history of the game. Many of the players at the U.S. Senior Open appreciated and recognized his zest for the game and gave him words of encouragement and praise, including the tournament champion, Fred Funk.

Crowder was, to say the least, in golf heaven all week at Crooked Stick and chalks up his experience as a standard bearer as just another enjoyable experience on the golf course. Yes, golf is a passion for this young man, and he is pretty darn good at it.

But the real treat I took away from my conversation with Crowder was his positive attitude and his polite, respectful manner, something we see far too infrequently with young people today. Who knows, someday in the future I may see Crowder playing golf professionally on television, and playing well.

But perhaps he will instead decide to be a doctor, teacher or maybe a golf course designer. Regardless of which, I am certain Crowder will do well at what he chooses, and something tells me the golf clubs will be close by. We can all learn something from this unique and talented young man, and I am not talking about teeing it up and hitting it straight. More importantly, I am referring to his desire to succeed and his gratitude for those who have helped him along the way. Yes indeed, Kenneth Crowder has a bright future, and it is certainly not limited to the game of golf.

Notes: My thanks to Crowder’s parents for allowing me to interview Kenneth, as his story is both uplifting and inspiring, regardless if one plays golf or not. They are wonderfully nice people as well as great parents and have a lot to be proud of.

DANNY BRIDGES, WHO FOUND KENNETH CROWDER TO BE FAR MORE INTERESTING THAN ANY OF THE NUMEROUS PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES HE HAS MET IN HIS LIFE, CAN BE REACHED AT (317) 578-1780 OR BRIDGESHD@AOL.COM.

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