By Christian Barel
Trying something new can be a path to a lifelong passion. For Kent Menendez, this statement holds true. Not afraid to immerse himself in new experiences, he attempted playing almost every sport. However, with those sports something didn’t seem to mesh with him.
Well, at least that was the case, until he took his first swing at a golf ball.
After watching golf on the television, Kent tried the sport on a whim. His curiosity for golf led to finding the perfect sport to complement his skills and talent.
“My dad and I were watching golf one day and we decided that it looks like fun,” Kent said. “So we went to my local middle school and hit golf balls and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
It’s no surprise that Kent adapted easily on the course. He has a good backbone to support his progress. His knack for golf, combined with his father’s knowledge of the sport and training from a coach, procured Kent’s overall successes on the course.
Kent was one to watch in 2017, earning gold medals in each of the last three tournaments he played in, including Summer Games. Not only are his recent tournament results impressive, but his consistency with golf is too. Kent routinely shoots around an 85, while many casual golfers fail to crack 100.
“Kent has the skill, I don’t,” said Daniel Menendez, Kent’s father. “I just have some concepts. I can’t put them into play and he does.”
Alongside the development of his golf skills, Kent’s relationship with others has blossomed. Through Special Olympics Kent has become comfortable interacting with people. Training and competing has bolstered his confidence, not just his skills.
“Above and beyond that (talent for sports) the growth in his social skills has been rewarding to see,” Daniel said.
Aside from making new friends and building a community, his connection with his father had strengthened due to golf. Kent and Daniel’s rapport is palpable on and off the course. In fact, Daniel will be Kent’s caddie in the upcoming Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle this summer. Kent was one of the two golfers chosen to represent Southern California in July at the Games.
“He knew the competition was going to be stiff,” Daniel said. “But he must’ve shown them something.”