I finally made it to Dallas and started boarding the plane for my final destination, Garden City, Kansas. It was the smallest plane I’ve ever been on, almost solely filled with Epson Tour players. I was too distraught, tired and emotional to speak to anyone, so I put on my headphones and just looked around. It felt a little bit like a scene from the movie, “A League of Their Own.”
When we touched down in Garden City, I walked straight out of the airplane onto the tarmac. It was pitch black. All I saw was endless fields of corn, one tiny building and the fresh smell of cow manure. I wanted to say, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we aren’t in Kansas anymore.” The only thing was, I was just arriving. The airport looked more like a modern-day urgent care. I’d later find out that my COVID test hadn’t returned and I had to spend the rest of the following day in the hotel room gazing at the cornfields that sat majestically on the other side of my window.
Many people skip this event because there is not much more to Garden City than a few fast-food chains, a couple of corn fields, and Buffalo Dunes Golf Club. To me, there was so much beauty in the simplicity. It was drastically different than anything I’d ever seen. I truly felt like I was in the “Wizard of Oz” and similar to Dorothy, I was on the path to accomplishing my dream. I saw some of the most beautiful sunsets, sunrises and experienced a whipping wind that could easily knock the tin man off his feet. I played well enough to set myself up for the remainder of the year.
After my final round, I had to stay in Garden City until my flight the following morning. I picked up food at a local Thai restaurant that all the players had raved about throughout the week. I went back to my hotel, flipped on the only channel the TV provided and ate my Pad Thai. Perfectly fitting, the movie playing was “The Wizard of Oz”.
That night I learned the true meaning of two sayings I had said to myself over and over throughout the week. The term, “follow the yellow brick road” means “a course of action or series of events viewed as a path to a particular (especially positive or desired) outcome or goal.” There was no doubt I was on my yellow brick road. The saying, “we’re not in Kansas anymore” has nothing to do with being in Kansas. Instead, it is about entering a place that is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. As I looked out my window at the cornfields and The Tractor Supply store, the only thing bringing me comfort was the warmth of the pad Thai noodles in my mouth.
I finished up dinner and cracked the fortune cookie the restaurant put in my bag. The fortune read, “nothing is impossible to a willing heart.” I reflected on the journey that it took to get there and the will it took to make it happen. That tiny slip of paper still sits in the back of my phone.
I don’t write this to make the readers feel bad for the hurdles we have to overcome to play golf every day. I write this to give a glimpse into the obstacles that are presented outside the golf course and the great lengths one will go to accomplish their dreams. I’m thankful for my family, especially my sister, who encouraged me to take the first step on the yellow brick road. I think we all have our versions of Kansas, those moments when we feel uncomfortable but know that no goal worth achieving is easy. We are all on our own unique Yellow Brick Road, one that we hope leads to those dreams.