Episode 16: Setting Yourself up for Success at Any Age!
Aug 15, 2021
Whether you play golf or not, it’s important to break out from stale routines, keep things fresh and challenge yourself every now and again. On this episode, listen to Isaac and Gavin Parker, Academy Director & CEO of Junior Golf at Salisbury Country Club and a Golf Digest award winning teacher, discuss why focusing on fun and creative ways to challenge yourself leads to growth on and off the course!
- What keeps people engaged and how that translates into success?
- How to keep things fresh when it comes to your routines.
- Why staying grateful and recognizing small wins can lead to breakthroughs…and much more!
Isaac Wright: Hey! Welcome back to Wright Money Tips, Isaac Wright here. And today we’re going to talk about something that I think all of us need to pay more attention to, which is having just a little bit of fun, being creative, understanding that the day-to-day routine necessarily doesn’t have to put you in the doldrums.
If you paid attention to our show, we talk about finance, we talk about health, we’re going to talk a little bit about lifestyle today. And to me, the definition of having a lifestyle that’s worthy of enjoyment is important to us. And with that being said, I want to introduce our guest of the day, Mr. Gavin Parker. Gavin, how are you, sir?
Gavin Parker: I’m doing well. Thank you for having me.
Isaac Wright: So just to give you some feedback here on my man, Gavin. Gavin is the CEO of Junior Golf at Salisbury Country Club. So, for all of you here, local in Richmond, somebody that I have known for a few years now and have just gravitated to just because of who he is and how he goes about his day.
He recently won a young teacher’s award, the Golf Digest Young Teacher’s Award 2021-2022. Going to your site, CEO of juniorgolf.com. I’ll make sure people know where that is by the end of the show today. But I also want people to realize that; one thing that I’ve noticed with Gavin, and I hope you take away, no matter if you’re going through retirement or not, this is not about that today.
This is about no matter what age you are, that you’re enjoying yourself and understanding how to challenge yourself. So, you know, let me just fill in the viewers today for you. You have just done a phenomenal job of taking the Junior Program at Salisbury Country Club to a whole other level. But what impresses me the most is how you have gone about doing it by thinking about not necessarily golf, but life and those life skills. Let me just start off by saying, because we could take this for any different direction. But why don’t I just simply ask, “How has the process been and maybe talk to me a little bit about what really inspired you to put the energy that you put behind a program at Salisbury that you’ve done?”
Gavin Parker: What an intro I have to say. Thank you so much. But it started off with just fun. And so many people would say to me, when you have anything junior related, you got to make it fun. Well, to actually create fun in the 21st century is kind of hard to do. I’m literally at a crossroads with kids. Their attention is limited. So, the journey started with, okay, what actually is fun and how can you create it?
So, in 2019, I went to a game design workshop for board games, toys and video games and that industry is quantified fun, better than anybody in golf has done. And I started to actually pay attention to what are the types, how do you create fun and how can you do that? So, I saw that Salisbury needed that and I wanted to do something different because for some reason, if you believe it or not, most kids don’t think golf’s fun. Surprise.
Isaac Wright: So, in the name of golf, and of course, people that we know mutually play a lot of golf, but there’s a lot of people out there that if you don’t play golf, can look very routine-oriented, could be boring. Anything that Gavin is out there doing on the golf course, because I see him out there in many different capacities; but with those kids, it is definitely not boring. And you know, to me, I think those kinds of skills, to be able to kind of challenge yourself again, no matter what age you are energizes me to see, some type of what I call atmosphere that allows for that creative outlet.
So, from the time that you started at Salisbury to where you’re at today with the Junior Program, tell me just a little bit about how much that’s grown and kind of the direction that you’re looking to take the program even further.
Gavin Parker: Yeah, so I started in 2018. And in 2018, they had no junior golf program. All they had were like the one-time camps kind of in the summer. So, I did my first-ever program and offered a complimentary for the membership and I have four kids enrolled. And since 2018, we’ve grown the program to almost 210 percent.
We have about 150 kids that see us at least once a week through the entire golfing year. So that’s like kind of eight months. They are in Richmond, Virginia, but I mean, it’s just transformed. And then we started to actually create a culture that’s centered around play and is actually recreating the first ever child-centric framework that coaching golf, like it’s truly student first where I try not to be disingenuous to parents and say, “Hey, we’re going to take your kid and we’re going to make them really skilled at golf for the next 10 years or four years or try to make them just elite.”
Well, it’s not always true for every kid. So, I try to use the rhetoric of play that aren’t just based on progression and progress and development; but using play in the simplest terms to create a community to stylize play at Salisbury that most people think that just golfing a ball is good enough for all kids, which is not. Where I try to create a community that’s based on inclusion and accessibility and creating choices. Where if we look at play in the truest form, all it basically means is free bound play amongst the structure. So, we just give kids their own environment to be themselves.
And if we look at most adults, when they join a country club or play golf in general, that’s all they’re doing. They’re playing as well. But for some reason, kids only play if it’s to be the best at it, or to be better than anyone else where we know that that type of rhetoric isn’t healthy, this grind winner-take all be better than the next person, that’s not how it gets done.
Where for most children, they just want to be a part of a tribe.
Isaac Wright: Well, that can burn people out. Quite honestly.
Gavin Parker: Yeah, he does all the time. And I think that if you look at most kids that play youth sports, they stop playing at age 13, they go on and do something else. And then they usually get in trouble, or they find something else. So, I’m really trying to reverse engineer what fun actually is and fun is the anticipation of a reward. And what is fun for you, Isaac, is different than what I think is fun. What’s fun for me is different from what Jackson thinks is fun.
Isaac Wright: Let me stop you for a minute. And I want everybody to listen to what he just said, “Fun as the anticipation of a reward.”
I think that’s pretty impactful, no matter what your age is. You need to get out there and be able to create an environment that you feel like even if it’s a small win, that you can celebrate. That you can be able to be in a position that, builds motivation, kind of gets that snowball effect.
Every morning, you and I work out a little bit at the gym together and just having those small wins, I just wanted to stop there. I just think that definition is truly, if people could just take a minute out of their day and their routine to think about being grateful and being able to take one or two small wins out of the day, really helps you change your mindset.
But you know, to see where you have taken the program, because I see you out there, man; it is just outrageous to see how many kids. if I can just stop on the kids for a minute because the Junior Program at Salisbury and by the way, if anybody’s listening to this that is into golf or into the position of wanting to learn more about golf the right way or their kids or grandkids, even. I’ve had a couple of grandchildren here at our practice that have gone out to see Gavin.
I’m going to make a plug for him right now to say, he’s the man that you want to talk to just because of the way that people walk out of there, the kids walk out of there. Let me ask you just real-quick though, because you’ve had a lot of the parents, you’ve had a lot of the adults, that if caught onto that same mentality, that have really reinvigorated their golf game or just who they are and how they approach things.
So, talk to me a little bit about that. Because I mean, you and I’ve talked a couple of times about some of the parents that have really enjoyed getting back out there, even with their kids on the golf course.
Gavin Parker: Well, that’s everything. I think that’s what play is for at its simplest terms.
Play makes meaning to life. And I try to just deliver meaningful experiences. I teach people not golf. So, when it comes to like most adults, you know, everyone’s after the same thing. You want to have a good time, you want to enjoy yourself, you want to be slightly challenged. So, I use the same rhetoric to make learning golf, just as fun.
And I tell people sometimes, I’m not so much a golf professional as I am a stick and ball savant. Meaning I cannot take on a stick, taking a ball and hitting it somewhere, that’s not as quote, unquote boring, as you would think golf would be.
So, when it comes to most adults, I use the same mechanics. And I just want to make sure the audience knows that when I say CEO, I don’t mean like chief executive officer. I mean, chief energy officer. That’s what I’m doing with golf. And I just want to put that energy into everything. It’s kind of like, have you ever played the video game Pac-Man?
Isaac Wright: Yeah, old school, but yeah.
Gavin Parker: But this is how I created my process when it comes to coaching and what would I do anything in life is. You know, Pac-Man spends most of the game, Isaac, being chased by ghosts. But every now and then when he goes to the corner, he eats one of those, what?
Isaac Wright: Power pellets.
Gavin Parker: The power pellets. I feel like I eat power pellets. But you know what that means when he eats the power pellets, the whole dynamics of Pac-Man start to change. He starts chasing the ghosts. Pac-Man fields on. Pac-Man is invincible. That’s what I like do use in my golfing. You know, we only get four power pellets a level and we’re going to get four power pellets a day. And the best way to get into that habit of eating power pellets is by having that routine, those small victories and enjoying fun, delaying gratification. But unfortunately, when it comes to learning golf, golf isn’t instant. You’re going to be trash for a while before you get better at golf. And that’s kind of like life sometimes.
And I think that’s why I love golf so much is the more you play golf, the more you learn and there’s so much more to learn. And that’s why I am so infatuated with golf now. And that’s why I choose to teach kids. But the issue is everything kids now, no, unfortunately, due to technology is instant.
Isaac Wright: Let me say something. If you all are not paying attention to my man’s energy today, remember you are who you associate with. And I think in the world, there’s so many things that can drag you down today. Always be mindful of the friends and the family that surrounds you on a consistent basis. At least that you’re around people that are pushing you to do bigger and better things.
And you know what I’ve seen from Gavin and the golf and the community that he’s created at Salisbury on the junior front, is his energy level has been so infectious. People don’t know him, but just immediately can see that when they come out there, all the kids are engaged.
So, you know, he’s leading. He’s a leader leading the charge. With all these children that may not necessarily even want to play golf, but they walk off of that course at the end of the day and they’ve built friendships, they’ve built bonds.
So, to me, I have become, and I’ll just say this as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been a little bit more guarded with who and how I spend my time because we all obviously have limited amounts of minutes a day. I just don’t have time to be around negative people. I really enjoy focusing my energy, my attention towards people that I feel like I get that positive feedback from. You are definitely somebody that is just a genuine person that has done so. You’ve been able to coordinate your plan, your evil plan of attack, or it’s golf in a way that I just can’t wait to see how much more good things happen, Gavin.
Let me just say this, as we wrap up, again, I want to make sure people are aware of where to find you and how to contact you. But let me ask this, what tips do you have? I’m sitting here thinking, as you’re talking to me, I’m sitting here thinking about things that I can tell our viewers and listeners that, hopefully this has been a little bit of a motivational talk.
If anything, today, there’s more to life than just a dollar. It’s really important that you take time to enjoy yourself because I’ll tell you, I have known plenty of wealthy people that are pretty miserable. So, are there any tips you want to leave us with today?
Gavin Parker: Yeah. This is a tip that I’ve heard. So, my family and I on Fridays, we usually have a sushi dinner together. And it started with our gym, like the Flashback Fridays to kind of highlight something. But my sister shared this with me when Chadwick Bozeman passed. It was on his Instagram, it was this quote that said take your time, but don’t waste it.
And that quote really, really resonated with me because I would always ask my dad, you know, any advice going back, like dad, “What do I have to do to be okay when you’re not here or what can I do to like, just make sure I’m going to be successful one day?” He was like, “Gavin, just take your time.” And I just heard that quote.
So, my quote today as just a tip was like, “Hey guys, take your time. But don’t waste your time.” Like Isaac said, “There’s more to life than just the job.” So, what I like to do with my time is to enjoy it and I like to play. And that’s what play is for.
Isaac Wright: Gavin, listen, we’d sit in here talking about routines. We’re talking about life, positivity, the things that really have allowed you to be able to do what you do. But, let me say in the realm of teaching junior golf, it doesn’t have to be necessarily on the golf course per se, but just give me an example of what you’ve done to create this environment of juniors who are so supportive of one another through the game of golf, that’s kind of taken everything and flipped it on its head if you will.
Gavin Parker: Absolutely. So, we do these things to wrap up our games every week or our camps every week that we call end of day. So, the issue of most junior golf, it’s the kid who’s the most skilled, usually wins all the games. Whoever can hit it the farthest, whoever can hit it the closest, whoever can make the most putts.
So, we try to create a little bit more ambiguity. So, we design games where the outcomes are not solely predicated on skill, but on choices, resource management, different player interactions and an element of chance. So, one of my favorite games to play, is a game that we call the Hundred-Foot Putt Challenge. And based on how the good kids did in their training, if you make a 10-foot putt, you can move 20 feet closer and so on and so forth. But whoever can make the fourth putt wins the game. So, everybody has to work together to hold the first three and then the blind draw of it is random, to determine who actually wins the contest.
So, where most things in golf, “Oh if I’m the best, if I get the lowest, I win.” But now we have games where you have to work as a community, collectively that only one person can win.
Isaac Wright: It keeps everybody engaged, doesn’t it?
Gavin Parker: And holds you accountable as well. So, now you can watch kids who are nine years old who knows that if I hit this putt, I’m not going to be the one that won per se. But if I hit this putt, I give a kid a chance to win.
Isaac Wright: And they may not have ever had a chance to win before.
Gavin Parker: Boom.
Isaac Wright: They get that shot of adrenaline.
Gavin Parker: Boom.
Isaac Wright: They get that confidence. I want you to listen to what he’s saying here, because to me, it really is a big key in life to be able to, as a leader, be inspirational to those around you. And again, Gavin, a great example. I thought people would like to hear just a quick thought around how you’ve been able to kind of reconstruct some of the things that you’re doing both on and off the golf course.
Gavin Parker: Thank you.
Isaac Wright: If you have any concerns or questions, you can visit wrightmoneytips.com to request some time on our calendar. Or please subscribe when visiting wrightmoneytips.com to receive notifications on new episodes, our newsletter and even upcoming events.
Gavin, I can’t think of a better way to be able to have a quick introduction to who you are as a person. I think once people start knowing you a little bit more in the community and we plan on having you back, we could go on for hours, I already know. But for the purposes of how we programmed our show today, we’re going to leave it like that today. But you know I love you, man. Thank you for all that you do today. Thanks for tuning into Wright Money Tips and we’ll talk soon.