How golf saved a young man's life
Sam Gerry was nine years old when his dad bought him his first set of clubs, which he started taking out on the short course near his house in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, a couple of times a week.
By the time he was 13, Sam’s passion was growing and he started playing competitively. If he wasn’t out on the course, he could be found on a simulator or playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour on his Xbox.
But one February morning when he was just 14 years old, Sam woke up and everything felt wrong. It seemed that his passion for everything, including golf, had vanished overnight.
Depression hit Sam hard, with his first harrowing episode lasting several months. It led him to consider taking his own life.
It was a surprise trip with his grandfather to The Masters at Augusta, Georgia, that marked the turning point for Sam, and there he felt the first sense of joy he had experienced in months.
Upon his return, Sam got out on the course again. It was no quick fix, and even at the time he did not fully see the impact it was having. But, looking back, Sam can see that playing golf was a hugely significant part of his recovery.
“I could escape to the golf course, and the only thing I was focused on was the game.
“I wasn’t necessarily worrying too much about how I was playing at first, but just trying to enjoy the game as much as I could. That really helped immensely.
“It was great while I was out on the course to have that escape, for sure, but because I played regularly it definitely built up to create a longer-term effect on my recovery.”
Today, Sam recognizes the aspects of the game which most benefitted him during his battle with depression.
“Golf gives me a really good excuse to put all of the technology down and forget about it for a while. A sport like golf is so enjoyable that you can completely forget about your phone and social media and everything, which is kind of awesome.
"I definitely need that time, and I know that many other young people do too.”
“When I play alone, the focus required and the challenge of each shot really helps to get my mind off of things, for sure. But playing socially is also really important, and that combination of the game itself and spending time with my friends or my dad or my grandfather – that really helps get me through it.
“I feel like the environment definitely plays a big part in it all, too. It’s something that you don’t always recognize in the moment, but then you look back on it and you can see the impact of being out there in the open and the sunshine, and what a help that was.
“I just think about everything this game has given back to me, and I really appreciate what it’s done. You really could say golf saved my life, and that’s not an exaggeration.”