Few events in one’s life are as powerful as high school graduation ceremonies. Their power derives from their nature: they mark an end and a beginning; a culmination and a commencement; a finish and a rebirth. One face looks to the past, marking the young graduate’s successful completion of a rite of passage. The other face looks to the future, celebrating the graduate’s transformation.

Seating arrangements even emphasize transformation. (At orientation events when BGGA students first arrive on campus, students and members of their families are greeted as a group and seated together. At graduation, however, the students sit together as a group, with family members sitting behind and at the sides of the group of graduates. The implication is clear: While still surrounded by loved ones, the students have also grown apart from them.)

At BGGA we celebrate transformation – transformation of academic knowledge, golf skills and of character.

Learning consists of forming and strengthening new connections among neurons in the brain. A brain with highly textured, abundant connections differs fundamentally from one without. The combination of a high school education in sport as well as academics forms the strongest connections.

At BGGA, students enter curious. They graduate curious. But the graduates have learned to imagine broader landscapes on which to exercise their curiosity. They have learned to talk about what matters to them, to test assumptions, to ask questions and to evaluate evidence. They have won and they have lost. They have demonstrated that they can act productively in either situation and in so doing have acquired confidence in themselves.

Ours is a civilization built on specialization and 100 percent of BGGA graduates will be in a golf program in college. To judge by past graduates, virtually all will report, years hence, that their BGGA years were the most transformative in their lives. For it is in those years that they acquired the tools—the habits of mind—that taught them not what to think, but how to think and how to play, and in so doing, set them free.

Little wonder that graduations are so powerful. They celebrate the transformation that frees the graduate to participate fully in the human experience. The group to which the graduate has been initiated is far more distinguished than a mere college or tour: it is all mankind.

 

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