Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 23, 2017

Demon golfers learning more than the game

By Travis J. Brown | May 06, 2011
Travis J. Brown

Golf is the only sport in the world where competitors can call a penalty on themselves.

If you ground a club in a hazard, you call a penalty on yourself. If your ball moves, you speak up. It takes a measure of honor and integrity to play the game the right way.

Washington head boys’ golf coach Mark Berhow tries to instill these values in his young players. The team’s motto is “Integrity on and off the course,” which Berhow talks about often and even prints on the team’s schedules.

But it’s one thing to talk about integrity. It’s another thing to display it. Washington junior Alex Thode displayed it at last Saturday’s Fairfield Invite.

After Washington’s golfers had finished their 18-hole round last Saturday, they sat around anxiously waiting for the last golfer from Oskaloosa, their closest competitor, to make it to the clubhouse. If the Oskaloosa golfer shot a 42 on the back nine, the two teams tied.

That’s what happened. Oskaloosa sophomore Clay Tucker came in with a 42 on the back, and it appeared that the Demons and Indians were headed to a playoff.

But around that time Thode noticed something amiss with his score that had been posted in the clubhouse. It said that he had a 77, but he knew he had shot a 78. Without hesitation, Thode went to the tournament’s officials and told them the score was incorrect.

After double-checking Thode’s scorecard, the score was changed to a 78, and the Demons lost to Oskaloosa by one shot.

“It gave me chills to see such maturity and character as he valued honesty above a possible victory,” Berhow said.

Did Thode ever think about not telling anybody that his score was wrong? Did he ever think about keeping the 77?

“No,” Thode said flatly. “It didn’t even really cross my mind. I’ve always known to do the honest thing and get the score right.”

So even though the Demons may have lost that day, they’re winners in life because they’ve learned the lesson that honesty and integrity are more important things to have than an ill-gotten first-place trophy. It seems as though Berhow is teaching his golfers more than just how to play the game of golf. He’s teaching them real life lessons.

At Monday’s tournament in Ames, a similar thing happened to Washington junior Brock Kimball. His score was posted incorrectly, and he noticed and went forward to initiate the change. Kimball’s score didn’t affect the team score, so he could have blown it off, but he didn’t. And that’s important, too, because he showed integrity even after having a rough day on the course.

That just shows that no matter what happens on the course to these Demons, they’re being rounded into upstanding young men.

The game of golf is a fantastic test of character. Thode and Kimball passed with flying colors.

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