Saturday, September 1, 2012

Wilson Bowen shares inspiring work in Nepal

Operation Walk was founded in 1995 with the mission of providing free surgical treatments for patients in developing countries. Ever since, the non-for-profit, volunteer organization has performed thousands of procedures to treat debilitating bone and joint conditions. The surgeries are provided for patients who would otherwise have no access to the life-changing care. This past June, I was fortunate to be able to volunteer with an Operation Walk team from Northwestern Orthopaedic Institute travelling on a medical mission to Kathmandu.
            Our Operation Walk team consisted of four doctors—two surgeons, an internist, and an anesthesiologist—three nurses, three medical technicians, a physical therapist, and myself as a physical therapist’s assistant. The team performed fifteen hip and knee replacements to restore pain-free mobility to patients ranging in age from early-twenties to mid-eighties. The surgeries were performed at the Nepal Orthopaedic Hospital, where our Op Walk team was also working to train Nepali surgeons and staff with the goal of setting up the first joint replacement program in Nepal.
            Nepal is most famous for Mt. Everest and the Himalayas, the world’s tallest mountain range. The mountains, visible at above eye-level on the descent into and the ascent from Kathmandu, are spectacular. Kathmandu, situated in a Himalayan valley, is Nepal’s largest city and, according to the WHO, the most polluted city in Asia. Most citizens in Kathmandu live in poverty with an income of less than a few dollars per day and no access to clean water. Scheduled power outages are a result of government rationing, as the power grid in Kathmandu is insufficient for the city’s demands. The Nepal Orthopaedic Hospital has a backup generator, but it remains disconcerting when power momentarily cuts out during surgery. Still, the city is home to a rich religious and cultural history, with ancient palaces and Buddhist and Hindu temples dating back hundreds of years, including the most holy cremation site in Hindu, Pashupatinath Temple, which dates to 400 A.D.
The streets of Kathmandu are a buzzing and chaotic scattering of vehicles from the last hundred years. Emaciated cows pick at trash heaps on the streets, while stray dogs duck into alleyways to avoid the oncoming rush of two, three, and four-wheeled vehicles. Monkeys prance along rooftops and religious men stroll along the streets in strong robes of orange and red. At the time of our arrival, police in riot garb prepared to constrain Maoist protests against the burgeoning democratic regime—formed in 2006 when King Gyanedra relinquished sovereign power after a decade of civil war and the murder-suicide of the Royal Family by his brother, the Crown Prince Dipendra, in 2001.
The families that I met were strong and welcoming. They were sincerely grateful for our help, and, although communication was often limited to hand gestures, were incessant in expressing thanks. Here is a photo of me with my slightly camera shy, tree-climbing friend from the pediatric unit.
Traveling to Kathmandu was a humbling and rewarding experience. The Operation Walk team restored mobility and daily functionality to fifteen individuals, and I appreciate the opportunity to be involved with such a valuable organization. Their next trip is to Vietnam in early January, where they will perform over seventy joint replacements.

Wilson Bowen, 5th year senior 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cameron Wilson shares the inside info on the team

My teammates have used this opportunity to talk about their golf games, highlight the many ways in which Stanford is a great place to be, and detail some of our results thus far. I thought I’d use this blog to tell our supports a little more about each of my teammates and coaches. Before I do that, I’d like to extend a quick thanks to our supporters and donors who have supported our program this year. You all are too numerous to thank in this post, but know that your efforts are appreciated by everyone on the team. Nowhere else would we be able to have so many great experiences all in the course of one season.

            That said, here are some of the idiosyncrasies of each player/coach on the team. These descriptions are 100% accurate, especially the final part of Wilson’s.

Coach Ray- Longs to return to his high school days as a three sport star and lead in the school play. Would prefer that we hit irons off most tees and never hit the ball above the tree-line. This philosophy is exemplified by the tee shot he calls the “seed ball” or “crop duster.” Favorite place to hang out is tee boxes on par 3’s, closely followed by the Duck Blind at Dutch Goose.

Coach Rowe-Has a propensity to put hook spin on all of his short shots. Uses his knowledge of wedge play and chipping technique to dominate short game contests. Calls Butler National in Chicago “The greatest course in the world,” mainly due to his career round of 68 in September.

Wilson Bowen- Resident bio-mechanical and medicinal expert. On occasion hits his driver prodigious lengths. Also the only person I know that still carries a two iron. He is rumored to have killed a mountain lion on the Dish with only his bear hands and said two iron.

David Chung- Best distance runner on the team, by a close margin over Shane. Who lifts more weight is a matter that I am not allowed to disclose. Hits flop shots that would make Phil Mickelson jealous. Best known for his “pop catch” in which he makes a full swing with a wedge, hitting the ball straight up in the air and only three feet forward.

Andrew Yun- Formerly known as “Iceman,” rarely shows emotion on the course. Plays golf with machine like precision. Proud of his undefeated record vs. Coach Ray, as well as his two hole in ones on the 17th hole at Stanford.

Steven Kearney- Possibly the farthest and straightest driver of the ball on the team. Always has surfboard in his car, just in case... Known for winning last year’s Wilson Bowen Invitational at the Olympic Club. This year’s event has been named the Steven Kearney Invitational in honor of his phenomenal victory.

Andre de Decker-Deadliest with a wedge in his hands. Often scares the hole from 20-50 yards, as well as most greenside bunkers. Wields the long putter efficiently, rarely missing from inside 10 feet. Has a funny accent, probably Australian but possibly South African?

Shane Lebow- Most excitable team member, as well as most energetic. Master of the bump and run shot, as well as all shots from deep rough.  Always contends for victory in team runs, often surging ahead in the final lap to overcome leader.

Cameron Wilson (description by Andrew Yun): Resident geographical and political expert. More likely to be reading NY Times than to go on Facebook. Effectively uses wide hips to hit booming drives. Driest sense of humor on the team.

Patrick Grimes- Biggest proponent of using the long putter. Uses his long putter to make putts from everywhere, but also to attack playing partners that take too long or step in his line. A California native, he knows every single college golfer in the state of California.

Patrick Rodgers- Sometimes known as Daddy Longlegs for legs that reach to most peoples’ neck. Without a doubt wears the longest inseam on the team. Believes Indiana to be the greatest place in the world. Also is adamant that Q’doba is better than Chipotle. 

Marcel Puyat- Team’s best putter from 5-10 feet. Repeatedly bends down to pick his ball  out of the hole before he has made the putt. We do not know if he spends more time practicing or playing Words with Friends on his phone. Most forgetful, very prone to locking keys in car and leaving headlights on.

Cameron Wilson, sophomore from Rowayton, Connecticut

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Freshman Marcel Puyat shares an extract from a Humanities paper he wrote

Freshman Marcel Puyat
One of my biggest worries in coming to Stanford was how I would manage balancing my time between working on my golf game and doing school-related work. I struggled a bit in the Fall Quarter with motivating myself to work on writing some of the papers assigned in my Introduction to Humanities class, as I always found myself too tired from a day’s work in the gym and on the range/course to get myself to do schoolwork. This definitely showed itself in some of the very average grades I received on some of these papers, leaving me determined to find a way to improve on my study habits without taking away time from my sport.
            In analyzing what I would do with my time on a weekly basis, I knew immediately that the lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings had to go. I made it a point to sleep much earlier on weekend nights throughout most of Winter Quarter, allowing me to get up early and put some hours into studying and getting work done before practicing or playing some holes in the afternoon.
            This extract from a paper in my Introduction to Humanities: Epic Journeys class is a product of my new sleep and study habits on the weekends. Although some of it pertains to specific portions The Epic of Gilgamesh, the gist of my thesis discusses how struggling through tough times, no matter how adverse they may seem, is the only way to truly undergo a significant and life-changing learning process. While it is explored in my paper within the context of this epic poem, the subject of struggling through adversity is very relevant to the life of a competitive golfer.

The interactions between gods and mortals that occur in several epic poems result in varying types of outcomes that can be viewed as both beneficial and detrimental towards the hero’s journey. From gods acting in favor of certain characters due to biases in their proclivity towards certain races of people, to gods that do everything in their power to make life difficult for the hero, these relationships between heavenly figures and characters that live in the mortal world tend to be significant matters that can dictate the way the plots of certain stories unfold. However, with the knowledge that almost every hero’s journey ends in his return or symbolic resurrection with the attainment of some manifestation of an elixir, the validity behind the true meaning of the conflicts faced throughout the hero’s journey comes into question. Are these clashes between gods and heroes truly meant to delay the fruition of the protagonist’s mission?  In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the conflict that arises between the goddess Ishtar and Gilgamesh answers this question with a resounding “no.” With the descent of the Bull of Heaven that led to the death of Enkidu, and ultimately Gilgamesh’s awareness of his task to fulfill on earth, this friction between god and hero ends up becoming the turning point in allowing Gilgamesh to realize his destiny as two-thirds god and one-third man. This proves that the opposite of the question previously posed is the actual truth: these god-hero conflicts are essential to the development of the hero’s journey.
This progression of events that led to Gilgamesh’s realization of his fate as a mortal would not have been occurred at all if not for the discord that took place between Ishtar and himself. The way certain gods create obstacles to challenge the hero, whether physically, mentally or emotionally, plays an important role in the transformation that occurs in his journey. As ironic as it appears to be, Gilgamesh would not have gone on his path towards his acceptance of his own mortality if Ishtar had not tried to kill him. Expanding on this idea of the god-hero conflict being a significant positive step in pushing the hero in the right direction, it is worth arguing that these conflicts prove to be more crucial in guiding the hero towards his destiny in comparison to the helping hand of the gods that act in favor of the hero. Gilgamesh is forced to face his formerly unknown fear of mortality through the death of his best friend, and this life-changing type of experience was brought about by an angry goddess. These types of struggles create the conditions for a learning process to occur. Ironically, the gods that intend to help the hero are not able to put him through these tough endeavors that challenge the hero to grow and mature in their journey. It takes the intervention of a divine opposing force such as Ishtar for Gilgamesh to realize his purpose in the world. In striving to make it through these types of challenges, the hero comes out stronger and wiser in the end. Conclusively, the existence of a god that tries to hinder the protagonist in his pilgrimage is an absolute necessity for the evolution in a hero’s journey to occur.

            My golf game this year might have gone through a few more “downs” than “ups” so far, but I remain hopeful that the hardships I face will only make me come out a better and more mature golfer in the end. As the saying goes, what does not kill you will only make you stronger!

Go Card!
Marcel Puyat, freshman from Makati City, Philippines

Monday, March 12, 2012

Steven Kearney's inside look at a day in the life of a Stanford golfer

In this nearly 4 minutes YouTube slide show, junior Steven Kearney gives us an inside look into a typical day in the life of a Stanford golfer.  To view it in higher resolution go to the YouTube video directly.  Click below on the slide show to view it here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Freshman Patrick Grimes changes his mindset at Stanford

Coming to Stanford, especially as a kid who grew up in Palo Alto in awe of the Stanford culture, was a dream that didn’t seem achievable until I got that acceptance letter in the mail. As an accomplished local junior golfer, I felt that I would be ready to take the next step into college golf with the ability I already had. I felt that this innate skill would manifest in low scores, good tournaments, and a regular starting position in our lineup.
            However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that such a mindset was inherently flawed. After only qualifying for one event in our fall season, I finally decided to make a change, particularly in how I viewed the process of getting better. After much consideration, it became clear that my success in local junior golf had given me this perception that I had to constantly prove myself. I felt that if I didn’t play well, people would start believing that I wasn’t good, that I didn’t have what it takes, and maybe even that I wouldn’t ever get better. 
            Only when I threw this idea of proving myself out the window did I start to see noticeable change. Rather than trying to show everyone what I was capable of, I fell in love with the idea of improving, of honing my skills. It was at this point that I began to realize that I could look up to my teammates who already knew how to work diligently toward success.
            As I began to shift the focus of my practice, I started to realize the importance of having an extremely sharp short game in college golf. When assessing the skills of some of our upperclassmen, such as David Chung and Andrew Yun, I noticed that they had an incredible creativity and an uncanny ability to get up and down. Obviously, this idea was extremely intruiging because it led to the result that I wanted for myself: lower scores. I noticed that Patrick Rodgers knew how to practice diligently and get the most out of the time he spent out on our practice facility.
            My experience thus far at Stanford has undoubtedly transitioned to one of learning and has led me to strive for improvement in every facet of my golf game. I believe that my experience up to this point is one that many incoming college golfers can hopefully learn from. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting college, it’s that discipline is a talent in and of itself. Many people know what the right things are to work on to get better, but too few actually implement them.
              Many talented junior golfers are excited yet apprehensive about the college golf experience. Whether it’s the worry of balancing school and golf, the worry of making the lineup right away, or just about whether or not the school is the right fit, I would encourage all incoming freshman to throw these worries out the window. Embrace the experience of learning from the guys who have it figured out, and figure out how you can translate what they do into a formula that works for you. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Andrew Yun's Movie Blog Produced in Hawaii

For his blog contribution, junior All-American Andrew Yun created this movie blog of the team's trip to Hawaii.  With the Oscar's around the corner, I'd say Andrew should earn an Oscar for the best sports short video!  Enjoy the show and beware of spiders!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Senior co-captain David Chung reflects on his Stanford career and what lies ahead

2012 brings not only a New Year, but also the home stretch for my Stanford golf career. There are new opportunities that will arise, and also departure from my lifestyle for the past 4 years. I will take on the professional golf world when I graduate, but also leave the friends that I’ve grown and bonded with over my time. 

 Freshman year memories of Coach reprimanding me for forgetting my umbrella on golf tournament trips, to strapping on 7 golf bags on the top of a rental van with a yellow rope and driving on the freeway at 60 mph fearing that we might not even get a chance to play in our tournament in Hawaii, to playing in the Masters, and finally being the old guy on the team.

25 pounds, 150 units, countless football games, late-night cram sessions at Green Library and dozens of college golf tournaments later I am about to embark on my dream to play professional golf. However, there is a bit of business I have left to take care of here at Stanford. It has been 5 whole years since we’ve won the National Championship. We are long overdue for a title run and this year we have all the weapons to do it.

Wilson Bowen is the most athletic player in college golf, Andrew Yun has been a top 5 machine for the past two years, Steven Kearney is one of the longest and straightest drivers of the ball I’ve played with, Andre DeDecker is one of the most talented golfers I’ve seen, Cameron Wilson is a pure ballstriker and a deadly putter, Shane Lebow is a feisty, gritty player and will fight for every stroke, Patrick Grimes can get up and down out of a trash can, Marcel Puyat has amazing hands and creativity, and Patrick Rodgers is Mr. Consistency.

I have so much trust in my team this year and confidence in each man that I am incredibly excited for what is about to happen.
 Stay Tuned!
Senior co-captain David Chung

Monday, January 23, 2012

Andrew De Decker's golf with hippo and lion in Africa

When I think of my favorite golf moments ever, many come to mind. Victories, eagles, my lone hole-in-one – they all make the list. However, a few years back in the northern region of South Africa, I experienced something that not many people can relate to.

I was on vacation with the family visiting the Kruger National Park, a world-renowned game reserve. Just south of the boundary fence is the Hans Merensky Golf Course, which is where I teed it up that day. The special thing about this golf course is that it is in no way fenced off from the surrounding wildlife. Cats, crocodiles, boars; they all roam the fairways. Naturally this poses a safety threat, but only very recently was the first fatality recorded. Just like marshals ride around the local courses asking people to speed up play, rangers patrol the premises with high-powered rifles.

I got to the 17th hole, a long par three over water. The green ahead still had to clear, and I needed a way to pass the time. A few yards short of the green in the dam a hippo was visible, and of course one thing led to another and I found myself with a pitching wedge in hand, a scuffed Titleist on the ground and trying to accurately gauge the distance to the wallowing giant. I guessed correctly. A beautiful high draw landed with a resounding thud on the beast’s head, sending it whooshing underwater. My first hippo-in-one was accompanied by shrieks of surprise from the German tourists putting out, completely oblivious to what had just happened. In all it was a weirdly amusing and enjoyable moment.

The 18th hole didn’t fall short in the entertainment category either. After tapping in for par on the previous hole and launching a drive down the final fairway, I began walking towards my ball. A hundred yards or so short of where it lay, a ranger drove up to me and told me to stop walking. Confused, I began asking him why but stopped quickly enough when I saw what was happening up ahead. A lion had emerged from the adjacent bushes, and it was dragging a baby antelope in its jaws. Clearly not in any rush to get out of the way, it dropped the kill down in the semi-rough and began eating away. After taking a few moments to absorb the reality of what I was witnessing, and fearful of fetching my ball let alone playing my approach shot, I got a ride back to the clubhouse.

I gave myself par.

Andre DeDecker, junior from Cape Town, South Africa

Go Card!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wilson Bowen on Sandy Tatum and alumni support

Last month, my teammates and I had the opportunity to attend the annual Men’s Club dinner at the Stanford Faculty Club. The official speaker for the evening was Sandy Tatum (Stanford Hall of Famer), and it was a true privilege to hear Mr. Tatum detail many of his wonderful experiences with the game of golf. 

Mr. Tatum epitomizes the tradition of Stanford Golf. NCAA Champion, Rhodes Scholar, and USGA President are just a few of his numerous accomplishments. Most inspiring though, are his tremendous efforts in the city of San Francisco and with the First Tee Organization to improve the lives of others through the game of golf.  His achievements are nothing short of remarkable.

I had the honor to play golf with Mr. Tatum at Stanford last spring. I’ll always remember the 220-yard 3-wood that he hit onto the 18th green.

Opportunities like these make the Stanford Golf experience so unique. It is rare in college golf to find such a strong alumni community, and our yearly invitation to the Men’s Club dinner is just another example of the incredible support our team receives.  These alumni interactions ensure that Stanford Golf continues the tradition of excellence.

We’re primed to have an outstanding season this spring. 

Wilson Bowen
Senior from Winnetka, IL 
Go Card!