Home Sports On the links, sports reporter relishes own experiences as competitor

On the links, sports reporter relishes own experiences as competitor

On the links, sports reporter relishes own experiences as competitor

My competitive juices flow every time I cover an event on the Treasure Coast, whether it’s a preseason classic, regular season game, rivalry grudge-match or postseason battle.

Perhaps not as much as when I used to take the mound pitching for Sebastian River from 2006-09, but every game for me as a reporter is special capturing the action.

Post-high school, golf has taken up my most of free time in and around my work schedule and over the years. I would categorize myself in an upper tier of amateur golfers.

Trying my hand at various amateur events at the state and national level, it had been five years since I pegged it up in a competition that mattered.

This past weekend, those competitive juices returned while playing in the Indian River County Amateur Championship, celebrating its 36th year as one of the longest running amateur golf events on the Treasure Coast.

TCPalm high school sports reporter Bryan Cooney competes in the 36th Treasure Coast Amateur Championship at Sandridge Golf Club in Vero Beach on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022.

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The Amateur had a special place in my heart as in 2010, I broke 80 for the first time in my life in the second round on the Dunes Course at Sandridge Golf Club in Vero Beach.

Sandridge is where I learned how to play on my own, being able to walk with a few clubs or tote a push cart to the course living nearby and was a place I felt freed up mentally not worrying about the little troubles in life.

Getting to take part in a sporting event that mattered was something I had looked forward to for weeks and perhaps foolishly, I felt good about my game with my swing even if my recent scores didn’t reflect it. (Sounds like just about every weekend warrior doesn’t it?)

An opening score of 89 was unacceptable for a number of reasons holding a current 4.5 handicap — one being I oddly did not feel nervous or uncomfortable before hitting that first tee shot.

Playing with two older gentlemen, the three of us all struggled together but luckily were cheerful enough to chat for the duration of the round about golf and life that made the scorecard not matter nearly as much.

In my head, the disappointment of the outcome again oddly didn’t deter me from believing that the next day’s round would be much, much better.

Eschewing a range session before the round outside of hitting a few putts, I had an enjoyable day with my playing partners and outside of back-to-back double bogeys early in the round, made three birdies in a round of 5-over 77.

What stood out scores aside from competing in something that had a hint of stakes on the line was the post-round lunch with my fellow competitors and listening to the banter back and forth about the day.

People passionate about golf is the biggest thing that has drawn me to the game more and more and for those you meet along the way.

Last year, I took my second excursion out to Bandon Dunes in Oregon, where a canvas of fun awaits at every turn that is catered to memorable golf experiences.

By chance on my trip, I got paired with a group of people just as golf-crazed as I am from the Jupiter area. Since that point, we play almost each weekend when the time allows it.

It’s why golf has become special to me and to those that also teed it up at Sandridge because of those you meet and what the game can present at every turn — frustration, elation and everything else in between.

These feelings are what I see our high school athletes combat on a nightly basis and watching them figure out their own way of handling adversity to either succeed or need to go back to the drawing board is all part of the process of growth.

Jumping back into the other end of the spectrum to get a little taste of the thrill of competing made me remember what it felt like to face challenges and assess the best way to go forward on the fly.

Experiencing one weekend of playing in something that mattered already has me wanting to drive anywhere to test myself again and see what I learned from my failures.

For now, it’s back to documenting what our kids up and down the Treasure Coast do daily — perform, learn and grow to make every game and every moment of their careers count and provide memories they’ll take with them the rest of their lives.


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