Adam Wainwright has made a nice living striking out Major League hitters and keeping zeroes on the opponents’ scoreboards. But as his young daughters get old enough to explore the world of competitive sports on their own, the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher says he wants to make sure golf is something they strongly consider.
“I’m going to teach my girls to play at an early age,” Wainwright says. “It instills honesty, integrity and some important core values when they’re growing up. I feel like if you learn how to be honest and trustworthy on a golf course, you’re going to carry that over into your every day life.”
Wainwright played just about any sport that involved a ball as a young kid, but he didn’t pick up golf until his early teens. But when he did start playing, usually with a buddy named James Hall whose dad worked at the famous Sea Island Golf Club, he “became addicted to it right away.”
“I didn’t know how spoiled I was,” Wainwright admits. “I got to play with him in the summer time or during school after 4 o’clock and we could walk for free. Sometimes we’d walk 27 holes before it was dark. We’d just fly around—not trying to get better, just trying to see how hard we could hit a ball. We played four or five times a week and we were getting to where we could shoot about 80 or 83 and the main thing we went out there for was to look for balls and just get away, get out of the house and have some fun.”
But in the midst of having fun, Wainwright learned a few valuable lessons not just about integrity, but also how to deal with life’s daily challenges.
“You’re going to have your ups and downs,” he says. “You’ll have your rounds where you hit great shots and you’re going to have your rounds where you hit bad shots. But one good shot can bring you back. If you live your life that way—trying to find the positives in the middle of the negatives—then you’re always going to have a better outlook.”
Wainwright faced a difficult challenge heading into the 2011 season. After feeling discomfort in his right elbow, it was revealed that he would require Tommy John surgery, a medical practice that takes a ligament from somewhere else in the body to replace a torn medial ligament. While terribly disappointed to have to sit out an entire year, Wainwright found the positive in the middle that huge negative. He was able to spend more time with his family and cultivate his responsibilities.
“Our wives have to look at us as husbands with strong integrity,” Wainwright says. “We have to be the leaders of the household. That’s what God calls us to be. I have two little girls and I’m probably going to be the biggest role model in their lives. So it’s important that we are consistent. It’s important that we stand up for what we believe in and that we instill those morals into our young kids and that we are that good role model to our wives.”
But Wainwright says his primary job is even bigger than that.
“At the end of the day, everyone’s goal should be to live a life that’s pleasing to God,” he says. “And when you live that kind of life, people will see you as a good, strong, morally straight man of integrity, filled with love and compassion.”
Read more from Adam Wainwright along with several PGA golfers on the subject of integrity in Chad Bonham’s brand new book Life in the Fairway. Wainwright wrote the foreword for the book that also features insight from Webb Simpson, Stewart Cink, Ben Crane, Jonathan Byrd, Aaron Baddeley, Justin Leonard, Bernhard Langer, Kevin Streelman and DJ Brigman.