Pleasant words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21
As a parent of young golfers it has been an interesting education for me to learn what it would take to get them to 'want' to play. When I first exposed them to golf I went out of my way to get them to 'do golf properly'.
"No you cannot stand there!"
"There's no fooling around out here!"
"Don't do that!"
I am thankful now that for a few years I failed miserably at nurturing any passion for golf in them. I am thankful because I am of the opinion that there are two ways to learn something; by seeing the right way to do it and the wrong way to do it! Eventually my boys did not want anything to do with golf. It had become clear that I was going about things the wrong way. I was trying to get them to play golf 'too correctly'.
I became crazy about golf because I love the game. In my 'infinite wisdom' I decided, after a year break, to try to get my young golfers to love the game. A novel approach! I went out of my way to not push and to make it as fun as anything they did. They enjoyed snacks and sodas while playing, they drove the cart (while in my lap with me controlling the pedals!), they became experts at the Happy Gilmore swing and above all else, experts at laughing on the course. We celebrated the great holes and forgot the rest. Golf was fun and I even found myself having a better time! There were no scorecards, few rules and no pressure.
I have come to the conclusion that in order to get a spouse, friend, son, daughter, brother, aunt or grandparent to enjoy the game and to want to play of their own accord you must give them a reason to love the game. And when they love the game they will come back often enough to learn the rules and etiquette and respect that most of us seasoned golfers already embrace.
- Put FUN at the top of the list of priorites when practicing or playing. If the driver is a favorite, then the driver it shall be - from everywhere!
- No rules, just right! (Well maybe a few basic rules like; there must be one Happy Gilmore every three holes!)
- When they are done - leave! Nine or eighteen holes is not a prerequisite for enjoyment. Maybe for us, but not for a new golfer.
- Play or practice on their terms. Let them ask to be taken to the course.
The other day my youngest son was hitting his 'gold' golf ball up and down the eighteenth fairway at 7:30am barefooted. He followed that up with several rounds of 'yard golf' with his friends (Yes, the divots are bad!) and at 7:30 at night he asked me if would take him to the range to 'whack balls'. I smiled to myself because I knew I must be doing something right!
Congratulations to Berkeley Hall student Tim Tang on winning the Charleston City Amateur by seven strokes and a -17 total (66-66-67) Well done Tim and we look for big things from you in the future!