February 8, 2024

Golfing and Dancing Through This Thing Called Life

Life lessons that golf and dance have taught me, and how they continue to guide me in everything I do.

By Kayla Stewart, PGA Associate

It’s not every day that we relate the game of golf to the art of dance. For me, both have taught me valuable life lessons, and I’m excited to share how each has impacted my life and shaped me into the person I am today.

Growing up, dance and golf built a foundation for me. Both sports taught me much more than just the technical skills. They taught me good etiquette, class, discipline, grace and how to persevere when obstacles come your way. Every time I stepped onto the stage or out on the course, I knew that was where I wanted to be. Each place gave me comfort, along with an outlet to escape from life’s challenges when needed. Not only did golf and dance teach me how to handle big moments, such as making a winning putt or having a perfect performance to take home a national championship, but they also taught me to enjoy the little things, such as breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the beautiful scenery around me and valuing time spent with teammates, family and friends.

As I reflect today, I feel extremely fortunate to have found two passions that have brought so much joy into my life. Each one had a strong influence on me at a young age, and that influence has continued to guide me through my journey, teaching me important life lessons that I continue to use every day.

The first key lesson that I’ve learned from golf and dance is how to persevere. With perseverance, hard work eventually pays off. There were many days when practicing or competing that things didn’t go how I wanted them to. In those moments, it was about learning how to reset and overcome the mistakes to become better.

Fred Astaire once said, “If you’re going to go down, go down swinging.” I couldn’t agree more. Over time, I learned to build the courage and strength to fight, rather than just give up. In the end, all the practice and hard work paid off to help me achieve my goals.

Not only does this happen in sports, but also in life. To this day, there are many times when I have to push myself to keep going when challenges arise. No matter what comes my way, I do my best to keep a positive mindset and remind myself to persevere, because in the end, it will all pay off. It might not feel like it at first, but things have a way of working out. So, you might as well give it your best shot and go down swinging.

Another lesson learned is that you can always find something to improve on. In golf, there are many aspects of the game. From the power of your tee shot to the accuracy of your approach, the soft touch of your short game to the precision of your putting stroke, each one is vital to overall success. You can spend hours working on just one of the areas to get a smidge closer to your goal.

In dance, it is very similar. There are many different techniques and styles to master. It can take years of continuous practice to learn a certain move or acrobatic trick. Then once you have learned it, there’s always a way to perfect it and make it better. Whether it is a daily task at work, instructing students in a class or developing a marketing strategy for social media, you can always find a way to make it better. One of my favorite quotes is by Tiger Woods: “No matter how good you get, you can always get better, and that’s the exciting part.”

The last lesson I’d like to share that golf and dance instilled in me is accountability. Even though there were some days when I felt better than others, I would show up to the dance studio for practice every week. In addition to just showing up, I had to prove to my dance teacher that I practiced at home and knew my part of the dance. She always held us accountable for every step or special part we were given. It only took one time of showing up unprepared to never do it again!

It was that way playing in a summer golf league, as well. I showed up each week. If you practiced, it showed in your play, and if you were not prepared, it most likely was displayed in your score.

Today, the same accountability stands. Whether I am teaching a dance class, playing a round on the course or even going to work, to perform at my best, I have to come prepared. I remind myself of the level of accountability that my dance teacher held me to from day one, and that continues to help me perform to the best of my ability in anything that I do.

How it all comes full circle:

My experience with golf and dance led me to my current roles as the PGA Golf Management (PGM) Program Assistant and the Promotional Dance Team Coordinator at Coastal Carolina University. Last spring presented the opportunity to bring my two passions together and participate in an event called Chant Rock, a dance competition to help raise awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society. PGM and the promo team partnered up to compete in the dance competition for the very first time. With the combination of dance and golf techniques, hard work and dedication, the team ended up placing first in the competition and raising a large amount of money for the American Cancer Society. I’m extremely grateful I had the opportunity to show how my two passions can come together.

As I reflect, none of this would have been possible without the key life lessons that were learned from both passions – the game of golf and the art of dance. They have made such an impact. I know whatever comes my way, I will continue to drive and dance through life.

Kayla Stewart is a graduate and former student-athlete of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. She received her bachelor’s degree in management and earned her MBA in 2020. Prior to Kayla’s time at CCU, she was involved in the Flint Junior Golf Association in Michigan. Stewart has danced competitively since the age of seven, where she traveled across the country, winning six national championships. Currently, Kayla works as the PGA Golf Management Program Assistant and Promo Team Coordinator for University Recreation at CCU, where she continues to share her passion for golf and dance with her peers and students.