Many professional athletes say that the secret to success is to dedicate every available moment to the sport.
If there really is a secret to success as an athlete, then perhaps it's not only that he or she must spend every waking moment focused on the sport—but every sleeping moment as well.
“I dream about golf all the time,” said Woodbridge freshman Adam Szwed. “I once had a dream that I was at Old Hickory and some pros were there for some reason, and [Rickie] Fowler came up and gave me all of his clothes; he gave me tons of shirts, hats, golf pants, belts, and shoes. It was great. I loved that dream, and when I woke up I thought, 'Ahh, it's not real!' I was pretty disappointed after that.”
Szwed, whose favorite golfer is Fowler, began golfing at age 7. However, he didn't start taking the sport seriously until a year ago. He practices every day—rain or shine—either with his coach, his father, or his teammates, who all support him greatly.
“I see the pros and how good they are and I just wanna strive to be like them,” said Swed. “So, I got a membership at Old Hickory and started practicing there everyday.”
Szwed's game has improved 10 strokes over the past 12 months, and now as a high school freshman, he has shocked coaches, teammates, parents, and fans alike after winning six straight matches. Heading into Tuesday's Cardinal District tournament, Szwed is favored to compete as an individual even if Woodbridge fails to qualify as a team.
“Compared to where I was at when I was a freshman in high school, he's probably about eight to 10 strokes better than I was,” said coach Darin Snoots.
Surprisingly, the Szweds do not have a family history of great golfers. Father, Mike, and brother, Zack, both played baseball in high school, and while Adam does practice with his father every week, Mike usually golfs in the mid-to-high 80's; Adam's grandfather, Andrew Jackson, played golf every day over the last 20 years of his life and never shot below an 80.
“My father played every day,” said Adam's mother, Mary Ann. “And he kept a journal where he put his scores and if he was having a really bad day or a really good day. My mom tracked that down recently and gave it to Adam so he could go back and look at his grandfather's scores, which were normally in the mid-80's. He would get the first tee-time every day so that he could get through the course the quickest. Everybody said he was the fastest player they knew because he was impatient, and maybe that's why his scores never got any better.”
Patience is certainly a virtue that Szwed has learned over the past year, and it not only shows on the golf course, but in his demeanor. Despite how talented he is, Szwed realizes that he is still in high school. He constantly reminds himself that studying is important. His academic goal is to attend a university, such as Clemson or Penn State, that has a top collegiate golf program, and then to become a professional golfer.
“But, right now the focus is on the team and winning the district tournament," he said. "Hopefully we can have a good show. One match at a time!”