Hall of Fame Speech
Thank you so much to the selection committee… and to Mike Riste for making this happen… tonight, I am certainly honoured and grateful to be here with all of the inductees…
When I got the call from Mike in July, it started some kind of crazy flood of memories. There have been notes and lists all over the house. It has been a lot of fun getting these little surprise memories.
So I don’t want to put you to sleep… but I have a few items to cover, and quite a few people to blame…
* I mean thank…
1. It takes a village to raise a golfer… there have been so many people who have helped me… and looking back, I don’t know how things would have turned out if even one of them was not a part of the story.
Of course, my parents, they let me play anything, encouraged me to play hockey, softball... and to keep trying golf, even though I didn’t like it at first. I can hear Mum saying this: * “Just chip it around the yard, you’ll get the hang of it.”
And speaking of Mum, who will be 81 tomorrow, [they applauded her] ...she has definitely been my biggest fan. All through the years, she told me that I was good.* In fact she told everyone I was good... She thought I was better than I really was, and this trick really worked, for quite a while.
And my Dad, he’s gone now, but he first taught me to skate, play hockey…drove me all over the place. He supported whatever I wanted to do, which is particularly great, because he was a hockey player and came from a time when that was not always supported. He was not allowed to chase his dream.
My big sister Cathy, my favourite sister… <whispered> *(my only sister) She looked after me a lot, when I was a kid. And then later, when I was away, she and her family, were always there, with support… and always kept me in touch with home. I still have letters from her, and pictures her kids drew for me while I was away, chasing the ball. Those were gold- Packets of love and joy before email, skype and facebook.
*She even likes golf now:
… particularly the 19th hole, and the cute outfits.
A huge part of this village is… Quilchena. [there was a table there of Q people]
This my golf home. Hi everyone . It is like a familiar backyard each time I arrive there. It’s a friendly golf playground, full of supportive and interested people. Over the years, there were so many members who offered tips and encouragement. Some of this gang sponsored me also, when the time came.
It’s easy to see now, looking back, how powerful it is, to be part of a group of people who are genuinely interested in what you are doing. That provides a lot of energy, and that energy certainly helped keep me going.
It was at Quilchena that I had the aHa moment. I was 14, and fixing up the Junior Girls club room with my Mum. We put up a poster of Amy Alcott holding the US Open trophy. I knew I wanted that.
So, at the time, I just played and practiced, …
But Now I see more clearly, this second item, that...
2. Help Arrives, in many forms and from many sources...
When you want something badly, and are quite obsessed about it, practicing all the time, people notice and they will give and give and give. They offer Help. Time. Tools. Money. Services. Transportation. Equipment.
Golf was really becoming an adventure, with trips to other courses, and travel to new places. And this is where the actual golf memories are a bit blurry. But I do remember that there were always very nice and fun people around, and very nice adults, always helping. There were so many committee members and volunteers, at every level, who gave their time. All of them doing this, to simply make golf happen. I had listed names in here but the list was getting too long. So to anyone who has helped, who does help, toward making golf happen: Thank you.
Also, Idols appeared: And there were a pile of these heroes, right here close to home. Dawn Coe-Jones, My favourite, was a mentor to me, and all of us Lamar University Golf Team members in Beaumont, Texas. She based herself there after she graduated. We followed her at Q School from the side lines, and watched her get her LPGA Tour card. And we cheered from afar while she was on Tour. When she came back to home base, she would come out to play with the Team, or to practice with us -and we were sponges. I remember her saying this, <tone:> “You’ve got to get up and down from 100 yards and in. That’s what they do out there. Practice your wedges.” Besides giving this sage advice, she brought us her used shoes, gloves and balls- *so I wore a pair of magic Footjoy Classics that were a size too big, just because they were Dawn’s.
I was always keeping tabs on the other local heroes too, Lisa Walters, Dave Barr, Jim Nelford, Richard Zokol, Rick Gibson, Ray Stewart, Jim Rutledge.
Before I knew how the future would pan out, they were inspiring me to keep chasing the dream.
When I turned pro in ‘88… the sponsor group was formed. Mum was the manager, and we guessed at how to go about things... My sponsors were a group of Quilchena and Shaughnessy members who put their money into the pot. Mum and Dad of course, and Conrad Mackenzie who played a huge role in making this happen, and there were seven others.
My LPGA Tour dream simply would not have happened without them.
And Kathryn McGarvey, who is on the Hall of Fame selection committee, was my teammate on the Provincial Team in 1987. She generously offered accounting services -This deal was arranged very casually, * she didn’t know at the time that it would be the lowest hourly rate ever recorded in her profession.
Doug McClean provided legal services… and with permission, we basically copied Dave Barr’s sponsorship agreement.
*<if you’re still awake, and anyone beside you has nodded off, just give them a little nudge, or offer them a blanket, okay?>
Okay, the third item:
3. Coaches – They kept raising the bar and inspired me to do more than I thought I could.
Al Kennedy, gave me my first official golf lesson, with the cigar in his mouth. I’ll never forget that blister on my left thumb. [held up thumb, and a few chuckled. Every golfer knows that beginner blister]
Then, Jack Westover, [who was there, sitting in front of me, aged 82], in a year, working with him, my handicap went from 11 to 4. He told me that I had a good sensitivity for putting. And so, I have always believed I am a good putter. He also gave me permission to hang up the clubs in the winter and continue to play hockey. “It’s good for your balance,” he said. So I did that until I left for university.
Sandy Kurceba, he gave me his time, his interest and enthusiasm.
Pat Park at Lamar University - I did not know that she was coming until 6:30 PM, what a great surprise that she and Gina came all the way here for this tonight, what an amazing surprise. [applause] I learned so much from her. I can hear her saying this: //<Texas accent>: “I want y’all to golf your ball. Y’all have got to get your ball in the hole, no matter what.” She is a great and generous lady and always opened up her home to us players, who were far from home.
(improvised here... added a fun story) ... During Thanksgivings in the U.S.- they would give us their house, because us international players had nowhere to go during a time when the campus was vacated. Dawn Coe actually cooked us a turkey. [crowd laughs] In a brown paper bag. [laughs] It was very moist. [laughs] ...( they were loving these little stories)
Craig Shankland - <pause> *despite his name,// he taught me a lot about bunker shots // and he is a really good motivator.
Carol Charbonnier – a former LPGA player herself, and not one to sugar-coat anything <*the look>… She taught me about the ten-hour work day. I sure hated that, but got really good results for a while.
And then The WIN happened…
That was my best golf moment, for sure. But some flukey things had to happen. That weekend was the first time the LPGA tried two-somes, and so on Sunday, I was paired with the most mellow player, Ayako Okamoto , // *from Italy //[laughs] She’s actually from Japan, of course. I know that her demeanor, slow rhythm, and easy stride influenced me.
Also that day, on the 16th hole, a par three, the pin was two paces from the right edge, on a plateau, a sucker pin. And right of the green was a drop off. Don’t go there. I aimed for the middle of the green, hit my shot, looked up and I had pushed it too far right. My head dropped, *I may have said, “Phhooey!” under my breath… but when I looked up again, it was like the wind was blowing the ball, impossibly back toward the pin. And it landed three feet. I birdied.
There is always luck in golf.
Near the end, of the Tour Days, I had two visits with Jimmy Ballard also. [pause] * I know, why? [Infamous/famous/notorious. Not all golf pros agree with his methods/theories]
I pretty much quit, the moment he said this: *<Alabama accent> “Iss gonna take you five years to rebuild your swing…” [they howled] not the most motivating thing to hear, even though he was probably right.
David Wright. He is a sport psychologist ... his book is Mind Under Par, and it’s a great read… I learned so much from him about present tense focus, mindfulness, visualization and relaxation..
*…but when driving in Vancouver traffic, pfftt! I don’t remember any of that stuff. <gestures of frustration>
My fourth item is .. that...
4. Golf is a humongous network. And the network grows and will always be there.
All of us connected, all of us gathered here… it’s amazing. I’ve known many of you for 35 years.
For example- Harry White - it’s really because of Harry that I got hooked… it was the Prize Table at his Junior Linksters tournament at Mylora, 1980. I mean, is there not something about getting your name called out to come up and get a prize?? <look around, side to side> Like right now? <eyes wide, side to side>
And Gail. I’m so happy to be goin’ into The Hall with you. We met when I was 15. We were pen-pals with actual pen and paper, stamps and envelopes. We played in Junior and amateur events together, were on the same College, Provincial and Canadian Teams, and then the Tour. We were competitors and rivals for a while.
But she clicked it into turbo and left me in the dust. And now, years later, we kind of pick up where we left off each time we see each other... And it’s the same with Dawn.
The LPGA network, it is a huge sorority/fraternity. I take a lot of comfort in the fact that all of the retired players in this network are there to help each other. Through Facebook, we all keep in touch. It’s great to see what people are up to, *Lisa Walter’s current craft or construction project, What people’s families are doing, their kids, their pets… Gail’s dogs. *<to Gail:> My dog says hi to your dogs.
And there was a little adjustment period to realise this final item but …
5. There is life after competitive golf. In 1998 I came home, feeling shocked, and like a failure…
I took a job at Sears. I told everyone around me that I hated golf. I really thought I was done…
But of course the natural progression was to get into teaching. (I needed to get a job) I have to thank Keith and Jack Westover for kick starting that… And Daryl Stubbs and David Bolton for hiring me- I learned a lot from those two characters.
I once said, “I’ll never teach,” and have been doing for 16 years now.
All of my teachers who shared, their wisdom, their tips, tricks and methods… Those things are in me, and they get swirled around with the playing experience.
And so, I am a golf messenger. And, I get to make people happy about their golf games.
And I still play a bit of golf too, and now it’s for fun…
...and for the joy of sometimes making solid contact. *Okay, once or twice a round.
I have had many students, from age 4 to 93, and some of them have become friends, and some of them are here tonight…
Lynda <point, find her> … she came for a couple of lessons- and she is the reason I play hockey again- after a 30-year lay off. And so my hockey friends are here. Thanks so much for coming, you guys. [they, all seven of those gals, cheered and whooped]
But the best part of life after the competitive years, is Stacey, my partner.
*She shoots about 100,….
...with hardly any cheating,….
is a lefty. <nodding>
Pretty aggressive putter <nodding>.
She’s also a kill-your-self-laughing, hilarious wit, and is super smart, with a couple of masters degrees. One of them is in counselling psychology.
When we went to the notary, in 2003, to sign our mortgage agreement, it said this on the document:
Jennifer Wyatt - Golfer.
Stacey Boon - Therapist. [true]*
a good pairing*
She has been listening to me debrief about the competitive golf chapter for years, ... and … has been the best spousal unit I could ask for.
So, again, thank you for this honour, I’m so grateful to be a part of the BC Golf Hall of Fame. Congratulations to all of the Inductees.
And thanks again, Mum and Cathy and Stacey for being here. I love you guys.
And here is an email from Mike Riste, of the Golf Museum, who organised the event. Nice feedback to receive.
Hi Jennifer: Just a quick note to thank-you for doing such an outstanding job with the interview and speech during the induction. I know you were worried about the length. It was absolutely perfect. One person told me you had them beginning to cry, but then you had them laughing. That is the sign of a great speech.
I was especially moved by the hockey gals. When they called I could not believe it. They appear to be a really fun group.
Many inductees have told me they consider this event the pinnacle of their career. I hope you feel this also.
Thank-you for making this the best Golf Hall of Fame of BC Induction ever.
Enjoy your week.