Golf and life serve as par for course

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Golf and life lessons became an intertwined theme on Wednesday at scenic Oakmont Country Club.

While focusing on tee shots and putts on the recently renovated course, 24 youth golfers from several junior programs paired up with club members during the inaugural Golf, Awareness, Mentoring and Education (GAME) event.

The event, conducted by the Southern California Golf Assn. Foundation, provided an opportunity for adults to convey their fervor for golf and their successes in life while playing 18 holes with an assigned youth golfer.

The younger athletes, ages 8-17, were selected by criteria ranging from academic grade-point average to current SCGA handicap to participation and volunteer work with their respective junior golf organization. The junior programs included First Tee of Pasadena, First Tee of Los Angeles and the Tiger Woods Learning Center.

Topics of discussion among the duos included how golf has played a role in their life, honesty, integrity and decisions one must make on a daily basis.

Eric Means, 9, made several putts, including one on the 12th hole. Means, a San Marino resident and a member of the First Tee of Pasadena, was paired with club member Carlos Chacon of Pasadena.

“He plays the game with his business people,” Means said. “They act on the golf course like they would at work.

“I’m also learning that all courses are not that easy.”

Chacon, a six-year club member and a member of the board of directors for First Tee of Pasadena, said giving back to the community and teaching younger people values can’t be lost in the equation.

“It’s basically about giving back to the community and teaching them values,” said Chacon, a credit administrator for Union Bank Los Angeles. “Somebody’s demeanor on the course can be an indication in how one might run their business.

“You want to be able to help [the youth golfers] out.”

Tristan Gale, 13, competed with Mike Hyler, who’s the club’s general manager.

Gale, an Anaheim resident, sought advice on the course from Hyler.

“I asked [Hyler] how he got hooked into golf and how it works in his job,” said Gale, a member of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. “It’s about meeting new people and they help you become a better person.”

Hyler said the younger athletes can use golf and early life lessons as a barometer in expanding their lives in school and beyond.

Hyler added golf might perhaps become a hobby and lead to important connections.

“All of these kids here are down the path in golf,” Hyler said. “They go out there and they have an understanding about values.

“Golf is of huge importance to them. They are understanding the connection between golf and life.”

Al Frank, a Glendale resident and a member of the board of directors for the SCGA, said the event can continue to expand.

“It’s a way to recognize their achievements, from doing well in school to their passion for golf,” said Frank, a club member. “You want to be able to keep the kids in school through golf.

“For all of us here, golf plays an important part of our lives. We are just hoping to provide a memory for the kids.”


Get in touch CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or charles.rich@latimes.com.

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