About a week before the sad day when Arnold Palmer and Jose Fernandez both died, I had come across another tribute for someone less well-known that also provided valuable reminders of things we shouldn’t take for granted and traits we should strive to develop and display.
On the sad occasions when we have to read about people, famous or otherwise, who have died, I try to find, and take away, some positives from the situation by focusing on the attributes about them that are cited in the tributes and summaries about their lives and contributions, and then by reflecting on how I can learn from their examples and improve in those ways myself.
In the case of the two prominent sports figures who died on the same Sunday in September—golf legend Arnold Palmer and the young baseball pitching star, Jose Fernandez—the life lessons that were brought up for us to learn from were plentiful.
In Palmer’s case, the words that kept showing up the most in the torrent of heartfelt tributes that hailed his great career and exemplary life were “approachable,” “good-natured,”“well-mannered,” “gracious” and, of course, “gentlemanly.”
After the tragic death of Fernandez in a boating accident, he was praised for his energy, boyish exuberance and general zest for life, and unending appreciation for the freedom he was given to play the game he loved after his harrowing escape from Cuba.
In both cases, these were valuable reminders of things we shouldn’t take for granted and traits we should strive to develop and display as much as possible.
About a week before the sad day when Palmer and Fernandez died, I had come across another tribute for someone less well-known that also provided similar lessons. It was for Byron Markle, a 20-year-old golfer and aspiring club manager who died in a single-car accident just as he was starting his junior year at Penn State University.
An article about Markle written by Sam Ruland of The Daily Collegian, Penn State’s student newspaper, related how he had just finished a summer interning at a club on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and how that experience was “the highlight of his life,” according to one of his friends.
The article said that Markle had always had his sights set on having a career in golf management—and based on how he was remembered by his friends and family, it appears that our industry lost a potential asset even before he got here.
“He looked at golf as a metaphor for life—your outcomes are reliant on your actions, and you have to take full responsibility for them,” Ruland wrote. “At the end of the day, it’s better to focus on the good shots that you had, rather than get caught up in the not-so-good ones.”