A time will come on Saturday when Kris Gohn closes his eyes and pictures his then-3-year-old daughter, Taylor, swinging sawed-off golf clubs at Greenbelt.
Kris and Sharon Gohn will be watching their daughter, a 2010 Columbus North graduate, walk down the aisle at the First Baptist Church in Columbus to take the hand of U.S. Marine Matthew White. After a honeymoon in Jamaica, they will live in Stafford, Virginia, where he is stationed.
When they pull the car into Stafford, Taylor will bring along one final gift from Columbus ... the Jack Cramer Ideals of Athletic Competition Award.
The award, presented on July 10 by the Columbus Parks & Recreation Department, is given to an athlete who epitomizes sportsmanship, dedication and integrity and serves as a role model for the community.
“I was tickled pink for her,” said area golf pro Steve Cohen, who developed her as a young player. “She has been a hard worker her whole life.
“Of all the kids, she seemed to have more fun playing the game than anyone. When she was 7 years old, she would four putt and start giggling. They really are cute when they do that.”
Taylor Gohn started to join her dad at Greenbelt when she was 3. “He would play golf on the weekends,” she said. “I wanted to ride in the cart with him, but he would say, ‘If you want to go, you have to play.’ I would hit one or two shots with him. By the time I was 5, I was playing in a league here in Columbus.”
She progressed quickly.
“I’ve been a member of Greenbelt forever,” Kris Gohn said. “When she started coming with me to the course, a friend of mine cut some clubs off. She would play a hole or two.
“When she was 7, Sharon and her would go to Greenbelt every day and play nine, then go back in the afternoon and play another nine. She started playing tournaments at 9 and when she was 10, Steve Cohen moved her back to the men’s tees because she was beating me.”
She started winning junior tournaments and eventually earned a trip to the state tournament all four of her years at Columbus North High School. She earned a scholarship to the University of Missouri and was a force on that team all four of her seasons until her graduation in May.
“I was really fortunate to work with Taylor early on,” said Otter Creek head pro Chad Cockerham, who taught her during her high school career. “She was a determined and very talented individual. What she did post-high school takes a determination and work ethic that few people have.
“The great thing about Taylor is that we were pretty fortunate to be on the same page. If her game was off, it wouldn’t take too long to get back on. She was a great listener and our time together was extremely productive.”
As hard as she worked, Taylor Gohn loved the game and being on the course.
“She had a lot of giddyup in her,” Cohen said. “If you are going to have fun at this game, you need to have a lot of fun along the way. She always has enjoyed her time and the road to getting there. She was a pistol out there.”
She said pros like Cohen and Cockerham kept the game fun for her.
“Steve Cohen gave me the first lesson I ever took,” she said. “I still use the short game that he taught me. I still remember all the times sitting on the green, talking to Steve. I still love Steve.
“And Greenbelt is home to me. Every time I come home, that is where I want to play.”
Her freshman year of high school, Taylor Gohn realized she needed to work hard on her gift. “I really kicked it up,” she said. “I had a routine that I worked on every day. I went to Chad all through high school. He is one of those people who would do everything and anything to make you better. He taught me how to work hard.”
As she worked hard, her father kept an eye on her.
“There were times when I said, ‘You need to stop or I will put your clubs in my trunk and take them to work,’” Kris Gohn said. “Finally, we just said, ‘She is going to do what she is going to do.’ You never had to force Taylor to go on a golf course.”
Taylor Gohn said a big part of her success was her mom, a non-golfer who never had to be forced to accompany her daughter to the course.
“She credits herself with being a professional golf watcher,” Taylor Gohn said with a laugh. “She was how I got everywhere. She would drop me off, and then stay with me. She always was supportive.”
Her mother watched her become a force.
“I didn’t make the second day of the state tournament my freshman year, but then I was sixth, fourth and second,” Taylor Gohn said. “Making the state all four years was fun and my favorite part was tournament time. I knew that was what college golf would be like.”
Becoming a leader
At Missouri, she earned a varsity position all four seasons, was second on the team as a senior with a 75.4 stroke average and earned All Big 12 conference honors in the spring of 2011 by finishing ninth at the Big 12 Championships.
“She is a fierce competitor who never gives up,” said her father. “She has been a hard worker who succeeds at everything she does.
“But I think her biggest accomplishment was earning two degrees, in finance and banking, in four years at Missouri. That was a full-time schedule with college golf, working out, going to tutors, being gone five days missing classes and taking online classes at night.”
Taylor Gohn said she enjoyed the competition.
“I loved living a student-athlete’s life,” she said. “I knew how to push myself.
“I am a really competitive person and doing well in the classroom was rewarding to me. Golf takes commitment and responsibility. You have to make yourself good and work harder than the people around you.”
On a scorecard holder that she carries on her golf bag, Taylor Gohn has a saying posted.
“If you are not working hard, somebody else is outworking you.”
That same holder has a photo of her nephew, 9-year-old Cameron Gohn, who she said always has been her good-luck charm.
Luck really has had little to do with Taylor Gohn’s success. The hard work was part of her makeup, and she learned how to be a role model early.
When she was in fifth grade, she played a round of golf with Columbus North varsity golfers Colleen Ritter and Erica McCory.
She looked up to them and loved how they were friendly and open to her. They played the game with class.
“It kind of told me that I needed to be a leader being from a small town, being an athlete,” she said.
So she became a leader, and a Cramer Award winner.
“The Cramer signifies hard work and someone you want to look up to,” she said. “When I got the call, I was speechless.”
Unfortunately for the community, now she is moving away.
“Matthew and I both agree that we love Indiana,” she said. “Columbus will always be home for me. Someday, we will come back.”