PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It was a moment that smashed many people's perceptions about Down syndrome.

Valley golfer Amy Bockerstette went viral for sinking a putt and parring on the rowdiest hole in golf, hole No. 16 at this year's Phoenix Open. It was during a celebrity round with Gary Woodland.

[VIDEO: Phoenix-area golfer smashing perceptions]

And the video taken of the event actually became the most engaged video ever on the PGA Tour’s Facebook page. It doesn't go to a Tiger Woods, a Rory McIlroy or a Ricky Fowler. No, it belongs to this young lady.

We can learn a lot from Amy on the power of positive thinking. In the video you can hear her saying, "I got this." It's become her mantra and it's actually something she learned from her dad.

Spending time with Amy, her parents, and her golf coach, was like taking a class in going after your wildest dreams.

On the golf course it's apparent, Amy has poise, confidence and talent, a trifecta on the grass.

"She doesn't have bad days, every day is a good day," says teaching pro Matt Acuff. "We live one shot at a time and she stays in that moment." 

[RELATED: 'I got this.' Arizona Special Olympian plays 16th hole at Phoenix Open]

Matt is Amy's golf instructor at Wildfire Golf Club in north Phoenix. He tells us the goal of his training with Amy, and all of his students, is to have no fear. He's tough, and has high expectations, but Matt uses positive reinforcement to get the most out of his students.

To watch Matt and Amy play, interact and connect is endearing. The stuff of movies.

"She can drive the ball very well," he says. "That's what really impresses people, they see her hit it, and then they're like, 'Wow!'"

Dad noticed Amy's gift for golf right away at the age of 12.

"We played a round and she actually hit the ball, really, really well," Joe Bockerstette tells us. "I came back from that and told Jenny, 'I think she has some talent maybe we could get her into lessons.'"

The decision for lessons had a profound effect and changed the course of Amy's life. It's a fun family story mom and dad don't completely agree on.

"I have a different memory of that," Jenny Bockerstette says, through laughter. "I remember him saying she's got a really good swing, I think she's got some talent, and then I said, 'Why don't you see if you could get her some lessons,' I'm taking credit for that."

[READ MORE: Good Morning Arizona stories]

Amy actually has a lot of interests and piano is one of them. She was on the volleyball team at Sandra Day O'Connor. She played soccer growing up and she loves cheer and dance.

"Having a child with special needs, some of that helicoptering can't be helped," she says. "Sometimes you're paving the way and inclusion is so important. And sometimes you have to make the ask."

"Golf is good for Amy and Amy is very good for golf," Acuff tells us.

"I practice golf every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," Amy says.

It's a heavy schedule while she juggles school, work and other activities. But the time she dedicates to the sport she loves the most seems to be paying off.

Amy just became the first student with Down syndrome to receive an athletic scholarship, signing with Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC).

"So, in a way she's broken down barriers," says Joe. "That creates an opportunity for others to consider breaking down barriers."

Joe explained that Amy's high school counselor was the one who suggested the family look into college sports.

"She's not done with her journey and she needs to tell her story to more people," Joe remembers being advised.

In speaking with PVCC head golf coach Matt Keel, Jenny and Joe recount the conversation where they knew golf would still be a big part of their daughter's future.

"Let's proceed with the notion that it's going to work out and we'll solve the problems as they come," Joe recounts coach Keel saying.

"That was a profound moment," Joe tells us. "It demonstrated he was committed to this, but he knew there could be logistics."

And on a Wednesday in January at the Phoenix Open this year, Amy destroyed even more barriers. A par on hole 16, in front of thousands, her joy for golf goes viral.

In the video, before she has to perform, you can hear dad and daughter talking.

"Stay focused, alright," he tells her.

"They love me," she gasps back.

"I know, how about that," he says.

It's a sweet pep talk while Amy tried to absorb the enormity of what she was about to do, in front of so many people.

"Amy's story is bigger than us and bigger than her, we've learned that," adds Joe.

"It was incredible," Amy tells us.

"Everybody was clapping at me, screaming at me, it was so amazing and cool," she says.

"You just had a feeling that she would rise to the moment and make something special," Joe beams.

So, what's the secret to Amy's success? Amy's head game for golf seems simple.

"One of the things she says to herself is breathe and believe," Jenny shares.

She lives in the moment, focuses on one shot at a time, and can be over-heard using positive self-talk.

"Self-talk is a little bit of a characteristic of a person with Down syndrome," explains Joe. "It's a way to process what's taking place, and instill self-confidence, but the, 'I got this, you can do this,' that's all Amy."

And, if you're wondering if she ever got nervous out there, the answer is no.

"A lot of people have asked me, was she nervous," Joe tells us. "And I would say, she doesn't get nervous she gets excited. The more people that are watching and the more who are cheering the more likely Amy's going to perform well."

They're lessons for golf and life. And, on one of the largest stages in sports, Amy shows the world exactly what it means to succeed.

"Success is acceptance and inclusion," Jenny says. "For everyone. That's success, not just Amy."

"You learn to redefine success," says Joe. "Success is not winning. Success is not first. Success is being in the arena and playing."

So, what's on the horizon for Amy? She just completed a successful first year at PVCC last week and is now focusing on a couple of big summer tournaments.

This September, she'll be heading to Nashville for the Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational.

If Amy has it her way, she tells us, she has her sights set on modeling because she loves fashion.

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.