Local Golfer Overcomes Tragedy


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Albatross 2024 Club
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Dec 2, 2009
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From: http://qctimes.com/sports/high-scho...cle_cc51e9a2-1020-11e2-800d-001a4bcf887a.html

Mostly posting this because I know Dylan and have played some golf with him. We share instructors (he also works where I take lessons) and he plays at my club now and then. If you saw him, you'd never expect that he's a +hcp. He's always been a really friendly kid that is pretty humble about his abilities. Had a pretty rough year, but he's bouncing back.

Sorry for the formatting.

EDGINGTON, Ill. — Dylan Daxon was experiencing an unforgettable practice round.
On July 4, the eve of the John Deere Classic pre-qualifier at Pinnacle Country Club, Daxon was 6-under par through 16 holes and had stuffed an iron close on the par-3 eighth for a tap-in birdie.
Just before he and friend Jonny Jerzyk walked off the tee box, the Rockridge High School senior’s phone unexpectedly rang.
It was a call that quickly changed Daxon’s life.
“My dad wasn’t breathing,” he recalled.
His father, Tim Daxon, a 47-year-old in what Dylan described as “really good health,” was at home with a family friend and having a heart attack.
“Our friend had called 911 10 times and nobody would answer,” Dylan said, “so Jonny and I jumped in the car and flew back home.”
Jerzyk, friends with Dylan since grade school, vividly remembers the 20-minute drive from the golf course to Daxon’s home.
There was little conversation but plenty of tears.
“I just kept telling him that I love him and I’ll always be there for him,” Jerzyk said. “Both of us were breaking down, and it definitely felt longer than 20 minutes.”
Dylan said he dialed 911 on four occasions before medical responders picked up, but the paramedics got lost en route to Daxon’s home.
By the time medical crews arrived, Tim hadn’t had a pulse for 9 minutes. They immediately rushed him to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
Suddenly, Daxon’s mentor and best friend was gone.
“My dad was really all I had,” said Dylan, an only child and a two-time state golf qualifier for the Rockets. “It is still a surreal feeling. The streets I’ve been down my whole life driving to school or going to work, I don’t know where I am.
“They say time heals all wounds, but I don’t know if I believe that yet.”

Support system
Daxon has minimal contact with his mother and lives with his grandparents in the Rockridge school district.
It has made it necessary for this 17-year-old to mature quickly.
“I didn’t have a choice,” Daxon said. “I can’t sit here and feel bad and cry all day.
“Your dad isn’t going to live forever, but when the day comes and you have to deal with it, it’s not fun.”
In the past three months, a support system has wrapped its arms around Daxon.
Jerzyk, other classmates at Rockridge, personal golf instructor Chris Larson and Daxon’s grandparents have made sure he hasn’t had to grieve alone.
“We are like best friends, and my parents treat him like a son,” Jerzyk said. “I go to him with my problems and he does the same.”
Jerzyk understood he needed to be there at the low point of Daxon’s life.
A week after Tim’s death, the two attended the JDC together.
“I just wanted to be the best friend possible for him,” Jerzyk said.
Larson, who has given Daxon lessons for the past seven years, has been more involved.
“Now, I get to yell at him about getting a haircut or changing his earrings out,” said Larson, the owner and director of golf at The Clubhouse in Bettendorf. “It has taken on a different role for me, but I wouldn’t leave that kid out in the wind.
“It has been a big learning curve for both of us.”
Daxon and his father hadn’t played much golf together in recent years, but fishing and playing catch were among their common interests.
“I wish I had the relationship he had with his dad with my father,” Jerzyk said. “They shared everything together — from (talking about) girls and school to sports. There was nothing hidden.”
With that, there still are plenty of nights filled with emotion and frustration for Daxon.
After claiming medalist honors at the regional tournament last Monday, Daxon turned around to give the medal to his father like he had done so many times in the past — and nobody was there.
“I tried to send him a text message last week on accident,” Daxon said. “Yeah, I’m sad, I’m depressed every day, but I just have to move on and play for my dad.”
Daxon marks each of his Titleist golf balls “7-4-12” in remembrance of his father. At some point in the future, he plans to have some of his father’s ashes attached to his golf bag.
“Golf was all I could think about two or three years ago,” Daxon said. “Now, if I play good, I play good. If I don’t, there are bigger things going on.”

Overcoming his own health scare
Introduced to the game by his parents, Daxon has been involved with golf since he was 3.
He was playing tournaments at age 5, competing in the Pepsi Little People’s Golf Championship in Quincy, Ill.
“I was the kid holding the group up that wasn’t any good,” Daxon admitted. “I only weighed about 25 to 30 pounds.”
Daxon had a life-changing setback at 5.
Doctors discovered a tumor – the size of a fist – near his neck that was growing into his lungs and cutting off his windpipe.
He underwent an 8-hour surgical procedure to remove it at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“It was a surgery they weren’t sure I’d make it through,” Daxon said. “You’re talking about a lot of arteries and jugular veins.”
Even a dozen years later, Daxon feels fortunate to survive.
“We still send that doctor a Christmas card every year,” he said.

Back in the game
Daxon withdrew from the JDC pre-qualifier the day following his father’s death and did not pick up a golf club for two weeks.
He competed in an American Junior Golf Association tournament in suburban Chicago at the end of July and finished in the top 25 despite not playing a practice round.
Still, Daxon wasn’t ready for a complete comeback. He put the clubs away for another month before gearing up for his high school season.
“Normally, I practice 2 or 3 hours a day and swing a club so much that it feels like my swing is in a groove,” he said. “I picked up a club and it felt like I was swinging in a zigzag.”
Even with minimal practice and the emotional roller coaster, Daxon’s game hasn’t drifted off the fairway.
He fired 69s at the Rock Falls Invitational in Sterling and at the Riverdale Invitational at Maple Bluff Golf Club in Geneseo. He registered a 33 twice in nine-hole meets.
And after a runner-up finish at the West Central Conference meet Sept. 26, he snared first by four strokes at Tuesday’s Class 1A regional meet with a 71.
“For him to still be focused and play golf at a competitive level, I don’t know how to put that into words,” Larson said. “He’s doing a hell of a good job with golf, keeping up with his school work and adjusting to this life now.”
Jerzyk, who describes Daxon as upbeat, outgoing and jovial, is not surprised.
“I’m not shocked one bit because he is the strongest kid I know,” he said. “He has really put a lot of time into the game, and it shows on the course.”
Going into Monday’s sectional at Petersburg, Daxon is averaging 35.3 strokes per nine holes and around 70 for 18.
“I wouldn’t say I’m playing my best right now, but I can still go out and put up good numbers,” he said. “Come sectionals and state, I’ll be where I want to be.”
As a sophomore, Daxon finished outside the top 50 at state.
“I was 5-foot-2 and only hit the ball 210 yards,” he said. “I was hitting driver and 3-wood into par 4s.”
Since then, Daxon has grown and his game has blossomed.
The 5-9, 120-pounder shot rounds of 78 and 74 to finish in a tie for third at the state meet last year. He’s uncorking his driver 260 to 275 yards, and his putter has been consistent most of the season.
“Mentally, he is tougher than anybody he plays against,” Larson said. “He scrambles so well and is just a competitor.”

The future

Daxon’s plans beyond this season are uncertain.
During the summer, Daxon considered playing college golf at Illinois or Arizona State, but now plans to enroll at either a small school around the area or at a Division-I school on the east coast. Indian Hills Community College has shown interest.
“We need to put a little weight on him in the offseason,” Larson said. “The courses are going to be a lot longer when he gets to college, so he’ll need a little bit more length.”
Daxon already had lofty aspirations for his senior season, but his motivation has changed since that July 4 afternoon.
He doesn’t want to just win. He wants to separate himself on the leaderboard at Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomington, Ill., the venue for the Class 1A state tournament Oct. 12-13.
“There hasn’t been a second since that day coming home from the course that it has left my mind,” he said. “I’m always thinking of something that reminds me of my dad.
“I don’t want to win state by one or two shots. When I leave Prairie Vista, I want them to remember me for quite a while.”
Dylan is a hell of a kid and having just gone through this myself I can't imagine only being 17 and having to deal with it. He's always friendly and has a great attitude.

I wish him luck in whatever he does in life. Every time I see him he is nothing but nice.
This is one of the reasons that I love sports so much... they really do help people cope with loss, and help kids learn the lessons they need to succeed as adults.
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he helped me out quite a bit with things I'd been working on in my lessons when I practiced and I had no clue that he was as good as he is. A couple months after we met he said something about shooting a below par score and I honestly thought he was making up stories. He's actually the reason I joined the club I joined this year.
This is one of the reasons that I love sports so much... they really do help people cope with loss, and help kids learn the lessons they need to succeed as adults.

Perfectly said. Thanks for posting this story. It was a great read. Sports really has a calming and healing influence on people. Kinda of an escape in a sense.
Thanks for sharing Ryan, keep us posted on Dylan's walk, both with golf and through life in general. I am praying for him.
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The article sort of touches on it, but Dylan had some pretty big health issues that still affect him physically to this day. He's probably about 130-150lbs and is shooting under par rounds on my course from the 6,800 yards. Very humble about it as well.
wow, that is a great story, thanks for sharing Hawk
A great and an inspiring story! I hope all the best for Dylan.
Great read Ryan. Wishing Dylan the best in the upcoming Tournament on the 12th and 13th.
Poor kid's been through a ton in a short time, I wish him luck moving forward. Thanks for the read Hawk!
That is a great story Hawk, thanks for posting it.
Thank you for sharing this story Hawk, Everyone has to endure tough times but its so hard when you see such a young person have to go through this. Im sure his desires will make him reach all of his goals in time.

Thanks for sharing this story, Hawk.
Hawk, that is an awesome story, thank you so much for sharing it.
Thanks for sharing Hawk, this article gives me chills for being involved in a very similar experience. Words can't explain what it takes to overcome something like that at especially such a young age. Dylan appears to be a very strong individual, wish him all the best.
Great read Hawk, thanks for sharing
Wow, amazing he is doing so well. That is truly a shocking story.
Wow...what a story. Best of luck to Dylan, and thank you so much Hawk for sharing.
That was tough to read! I can't imagine what he just we t through at 17. It sounds like he has his life in order and headed the right direction.
That's a tear jerker type story Hawk . As an only parent my self Dylan's story hits home , As iv'e always wondered what if i go what will my son think or do , and after reading Dylan's story i hope he acts the same way . The kid is a true inspiration to all . Thanks for sharing his story .
Good read Hawk.....Thanks!