What price are you willing to pay to achieve your dreams? What sacrifices are you willing to make to support someone else’s dreams? This is a story of sacrifice, heartache, and impossible dreams. It’s also the story of determination, love, and eventually…a man living out his dreams.
Sports journalists aren’t supposed to tell you to root for someone.
They are supposed to report the news, stick to the facts, and leave it at that. But this story makes that impossible. This story has an underdog, someone who shouldn’t be there, someone for whom even the most hardened of sports journalists must cheer. And tell the world to do the same.
And so the Los Angeles Times told it’s readers a few weeks ago to root for a golfer named William McGirt.
It’s OK if you’ve never heard of him. It doesn’t mean you’ve been living in a cave. Even the most dedicated golf fans hadn’t heard of him prior to this past February, when he entered the final round of the PGA Tour event in Los Angeles with a two-shot lead.
I only know him because I grew up playing golf with him. We met at a tournament in Charleston, SC and discovered that his teacher was one of my dad’s best friends. We would practice together often between tournaments. At the time, we were equals in terms of abilities and performance. I had the physical advantage, but when we would play in the same tournaments, he’d beat me one week and I’d beat him the next. We were evenly matched.
Only one of us gave up…I’ll let you guess who that was.
William shouldn’t have been there in Los Angeles.
I don’t mean in the lead. I mean in the tournament.
He should have quit…
He should have quit years before, when he had traveled so much playing in golf’s minor leagues that he once saw his wife for only eight days during a four-month stretch.
He should have quit when he failed to qualify for one tournament, drove 14 hours through the night to the next and failed again.
He should have quit when everyone told him that you don’t make it as a PGA Tour player these days when you’re 5’8″ and not built in the most athletic way.
His wife should have given up on him when he would travel for two months playing golf and come back home having won less money than he’d spent.
His wife should have given up on him after the 500th lonely night in bed, longing for the man she loves to return home.
His wife should have given up on him when she was working 70-80 hours each week in a Reebok distribution center, making barely enough to break even.
“That’s one reason I almost hung it up,” McGirt said. “She busted her butt for seven years. For two of those years, she was paying all the bills.”
William McGirt is one of thousands of aspiring professional golfers who kept thinking about quitting.
Only he never did.
His wife, Sarah, is one of thousands of spouses of dreamers who kept thinking about throwing in the towel on her husband’s dreams.
Only she didn’t.
Sure, they came close many times.
“I basically told my wife, I said, this is it, we are practically out of money,” McGirt said. “… I was lucky I had a few people help me out here and there. Thank goodness my parents supported me 100 percent of what I was trying to do.”
No one would have blamed them if they’d quit. They could’ve settled into a life of comfort back home and perhaps settled into what Thoreau so famously called “a life of quiet desperation.”
Desperate to know what might have been.
Desperate to work towards something meaningful.
Desperate to remember what it was like to dream.
But the McGirts didn’t settle for a life of quiet desperation. Instead, they sacrificed. They hurt. They continued to dream.
They dreamed when they were together.
They dreamed when they were apart.
They dreamed on cross-country car trips to another bush league tournament.
They dreamed when their bank account screamed not to.
Because it’s only in the dreaming that they could truly live. And now…they can live out their dreams.
Action item: Identify one dream that you will not quit on. Do something today to get you closer to reaching it.
Today, McGirt has earned more than $2.7 million in a little over three years. He walks the fairways with people like Tiger Woods. He now gets to travel with Sarah and their son, Miles. They are living out their dreams…together.
You may have thought from the title that this was going to be some get rich quick scheme. It’s not. It’s about what truly matters to William McGirt…and it’s about what truly matters to you.
What dream are you not willing to give up on? Whose dream can you support today?