an exclusive feature with 16 year old Sam Swartz
What do you want to be when you grow up? Firefighter, Police Officer, Teacher, or Doctor? These are all some of the familiar questions to careers we can remember aspiring to be as children. But often times, kids start early fulfilling and exploring their dreams. After all, why wait?!
Enter Sam Swartz, a friendly young man from Pacific Palisades, CA, who at 15 years old had a dream, a passion… and then executed it. He wasn’t interested in spending his days playing video games or mindless hours indoors tethered to a digital outlet – and he certainly wasn’t going to get suckered into being bullied at school just because he had goals he desperately wanted to reach. Instead, here’s a kid who combined his deep appetite for design, landscaping, business, and golf. Every penny he earned mowing lawns or doing chores for neighbors went into building his vision. The end result, you wonder? Sam created and developed from concept to execution a two-hole ‘home’ golf course named The Miami Way Golf Course, all for his community to enjoy. The property Sam labored over wasn’t some lush area with trimmed bushes and grass, but rather a gnarly, dirty, unsightly area of and weeds in the middle of his neighborhood. What better way to bring a neighborhood together, Sam thought, than to develop a place with a lot of heart, where the only rules are:
“rake the sand and fix your divots,” and anyone of any age can come and have fun!
And, what a mark Sam’s made on his community and others. Professional Golfer Tom Lehman (Champions Tour, Ryder Cup Captain and Co-Captain, British Open Champion, and winner of many PGA events) comments:
“I love the commitment and courage it takes to do something that is uncommon and worthwhile. I am certain there were people who told Sam that what he wanted to do could not be done or was not worth the effort it would take to make his dream a reality. Golf is the kind of sport that takes that kind of commitment and sacrifice in order to become even just an adequate player, but even more than that it is the kind of sport that teaches patience and resilience and discipline, as well as many other traits that are so important to a fruitful life. What I personally appreciate most about what golf teaches is that whether you are designing a two-hole neighborhood course or trying to excel at the game, you must absolutely be unwilling to take no for an answer: no to fear, no to doubt, no to the naysayers, and no to the belief that you may fail.”
As a young teen, Sam had an idea and made it reality, drawing upon his personal values such as commitment and fortitude. When we sat down with Sam, we were instantly impressed and felt that we had to share his story. Forget being fascinated about the golf course (!), this teen blew us away with his mature outlook on life and personal ambition. Golf is simply a platform Sam has utilized to access his drive and determination. And yes, he hopes to continue to have the opportunity to play the sport that he so truly loves.
Here’s our exclusive Q&A with Sam.
Hi Sam! Thanks for chatting with us about the awesome contribution you made to your community!
GPL: First of all, why golf? Has it been a passion of yours for a while now?
Sam: Golf has been a passion of mine since I first played the game in Mexico with my dad and I fell in love ever since. I used to be a baseball player and golf was my second sport, but in the past few years I gave up baseball to make golf my number one sport and commitment. I played on my middle school golf team and won the championship tournament, scoring +2 on a nine hole course; 68 players competed in the tournament. But what I enjoy the most about golf is playing with my Dad – doesn’t matter where we are – we are just together, and that matters. When I am on the golf course, there is no place I would rather be. It’s quiet, it’s freeing, and I am in charge of my decisions. Since building the golf course, I have been able to work on my chipping and putting everyday and my short game continues to get better.
GPL: How long of a process was it from start to finish to create this two-hole golf known as The Miami Way Golf Course for your community?
Sam: The process of creating my golf course started on May 31, 2016, and the first installation was completed on September 3, 2016 for the neighborhood Grand Opening where 55 people attended. It continues to be an ongoing project for me. I first started by planting grass seeds and planting flowers, and then I decided to build my own sand trap and that was the biggest challenge. The trap is 15 feet by 11 feet. I also installed TifEagle green grass from Palm Desert for the greens, and added stones and wood chips to make it look better. Lastly, I added a flagpole with an American flag flying. I continue to water the course on a daily basis and I work on the landscaping every weekend.
GPL: Who has been your greatest supporter or support system during this accomplishment?
Sam: My greatest supporters are my family and my neighbors. My parents have helped me every step of the way, physically and emotionally! I mean this is really tiring work! And, with no complaints they have taken me back and forth all over the place to endless nurseries, hardware stores and all the things I need in order to maintain this two-hole course. It’s one thing to do it, and then you gotta be committed to keeping it up. Otherwise, what’s the point? However, my two biggest supporters besides my parents are my twin sisters, Kate and Phoebe.
GPL: Sam, have your grandparents impacted you and your dreams in any way?
Sam: Yes, my grandparents are very proud of my achievements and continue to tell me to reach for the stars. And I am going to! Thankfully, my grandparents are active in my life.
GPL: Do you see this as something you are interested in for your future career?
Sam: YES FOR SURE! Building my own golf course really showed me how hard the industry of landscaping is, and the profession has earned my respect. Plus I used all my other skills such as math, science and communication in order to achieve and execute. I’ve been having a great time designing and waking up early each morning to work on my golf course. I would definitely consider and want to pursue the business of becoming a golf course architect. It isn’t just because I like to design and landscape – I simply love the game and will be pursing my interest in the sport by continuing to play and accomplish the skills to be competitive.
GPL: Lastly, what are your plans for your next at-home golf course? We love this idea to help communities to come together?
Sam: I am hoping to secure a meeting with the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, to see if he would be interested in building some more courses throughout Los Angeles bridging communities and neighborhoods. Everyone hopes that Sam can achieve his dreams and goals even further. This is what fuels others to move forward in life – values such as determination, fortitude, grit and some sweat. There’s no telling what will transpire for Sam. We wish him much success!