What Could Have Been

I was thinking about the time I had told my dad that I could have golfed on the amateur circuit.

He blew a gasket.

Yeah. I told my dad years after I had finished college.

While in college, I took a P.E. class – golf – and I rather enjoyed it! In fact, the golf instructor (who was the father of a famous celebrity who used to star in General Hospital), said I was talented enough to go pro.

Pfffpt!!

Yeah, that’s what I thought. I was a young 20-year-old black girl who had never even given a thought of playing golf! I didn’t even own golf clubs! Me? From Tucson, Arizona? Me? A black girl who thought the game of golf was for only old, rich white men?

No, thank you.

When I confessed it to my dad…he thought I was crazy.

“You could have gone, pro!” he yelled at me. “We could have money right now! We could have lived in Hawaii!”

Cha-Ching! That was what my dad thought.

Now that I think about it, I guess I was pretty good! I played a free game with friends, and we walked the course and chatted. It was fun, and I did pretty well.

But there is an underlying thing here: the elephant in the room. I didn’t think that I could be a golfer because of my ethnicity! Isn’t that the craziest thing? I mean, here it was around 1985, and I felt that there was no way I could get anywhere in golf!

Wow. That is not a good thing to have in mind. I shake my head now. I had a limited mindset but so many opportunities! As a teenager, I spoke to hundreds of black teens at a state youth conference; I was in a teen pageant, and, in college, I started writing for the city newspaper. I was a go-getter!

So, what happened with golf? Why didn’t I believe the golf instructor? He was an old, rich, white man. He pulled me aside and said, “You can go pro. You need to get on the amateur circuit. You’re good!”

Sigh. Deep sigh.

The adage of “don’t cry over spilled milk” is echoing in my mind right now. I don’t think I’m regretting it; I’m upset that I didn’t believe in myself as a young black woman. I cannot fathom that I limited myself because of my color. It was me. No one said to me, “You’re black. You can’t golf.”

It was me who stopped me.

So, that is why I pour into my students. Some adults look at students as stupid. I breathe into them the possibilities they have in front of them. I took a few students to an event where it was a majority of white people from the community. These people usually meet and mingle, eat food, drink, and talk about money. My students were stunned and a bit uncomfortable, but I told them it is excellent exposure. I told them they belonged there too.

I told one of my students who wants to be a stylist to not only be a stylist but own the salon! People have already written her off as being nothing – I’m determined to see that she becomes that stylist who owns her own business!

I’m content in what I’m doing now. But, I cannot help but wonder: what would have happened if I decided to become a pro golfer?

It’s a rhetorical question.

Author: L.S. Watson

Hi. My name is L.S. Watson, and I'm an English teacher at a charter high school. I enjoy traveling (my favorite places are Rome and Paris), writing poetry, and watching documentaries. I have a lovable yet stubborn Yorkie-Poo named Chuy.

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