Last Thursday, I invited Jayda Dookie, a high school senior at Suncoast Community High School, to visit the Homeschool Golf class. She would be late for school so I had to clear it with her parents and they were on board since she was going to be presented with the First Tee Participant of the Year Award. This is a great honor and I am glad we were able to coordinate it so our homeschoolers could see what is possible when you take full advantage of our program offerings.
After receiving her award, Jayda was gracious in sharing her thoughts with the junior golfers and even took time to visit with the teen golfers in the group.
Question: How did you get involved with golf?
Response: I started at the age of 5 because my older sister was playing golf. She actually stopped but I fell in love with the game. It was attractive to me and came natural. I tried gymnastics and soccer but they were not for me. My Dad actually wanted us to play cricket ..he is from Trinidad and cricket is big there.. but he also fell in love with the game.
Question: How would you describe your golf journey in one sentence?
Response: That's hard. Never ending, it's a constant journey of just pushing forward.
Question: When did you meet Coach Glen?
Response: My first golf coach actually retired to become a police officer. A close family friend suggested we meet Coach Glen. I was 12 at the time. When I go off to college, I am going to miss hearing him telling me I'm doing it wrong and I need to get better. Seriously, we need someone to tell us when we are doing things wrong. His instruction is very helpful and I will admit that I did not always listen to it.
I really did not like him at first. I actually hated him because he would not let me swing my driver which was my favorite club. In all honesty, my swing was a real problem and it was aggravating back issues that I already had due to my scoliosis. When I finally got the driver back, I realized I didn't need it my bag.
Our relationship has since developed from coach-student into kind of father-daughter. He and my Dad are close friends which is a blessing and a curse. They like to "tag team bully me" when I need it the most.
Question: What is your biggest challenge in golf?
Response: The mental game is the toughest for me. The competitions are hard and sometimes I have a hard time pressing through the tough holes. I actually took a break after the last high school season ended.
It gave me a new outlook about the game. I am still open to playing college golf but I know I need to strengthen my mental toughness to successful. I do know that I am not leaving the golf community. I have met so many people on the golf course from playing and being a caddy. First Tee really opens doors. I may even get my PGA card and teach as a side gig.
Question: What encouragement do you have for younger golfers?
Response: Don't give up playing golf. Other kids are going to ask why you are playing with some kind of tone like golf is not cool. They will try to convince you that golf is for old people and they are INCORRECT!!! I am not old and I can't say enough about how everything I have learned in golf actually carries over into my life and the decisions that I make.
I had terrible public speaking skills as a freshman. I was closed off but now I am more open and I can relate to people a lot better. I have met business people who are leaders in the field while practicing and playing golf. I even volunteer for Coach Glen during his camps and that is something I never thought I would be able to do, never mind enjoy.
Question: Who is your favorite golfer?
Response: When I was younger it was Rickie but now it is Rory McIlroy. I have seen him a lot around Seminole where I caddy and he is really amicable. His personality is just like what you might perceive from interviews. I have had several opportunities to talk to him and each time he asked me questions to get to know me.
On the LPGA, it has to be the Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly. Coach has shown me videos of their swing so much, I have them engraved in my memory. They really have it down. Smooth like butter. I also like Minjee Lee.
Question: Who was the first professional golfer that you met?
Response: Harold Varner III. He signed my hat at the very first golf event I attended, The Honda Classic. I went with my uncle and he took me into the kid's area. I still have it. So many memories. I love this game.