As a mom, I feel more and more pressure to get my children involved in sports and activities at a young age. So far, we have survived a 6 week session of basketball with my son (5). I’ll be honest; it was rewarding and torturous at the same time. Helplessly sitting in the stands, hearing words of encouragement and guidance being shouted from all directions - “Run!” “Pass!” “Wrong basket!!” “Great Job!!”. All while my son was more concerned about the clock ticking down to zero and the ridiculously loud buzzer going off. And at the end of the season he tells me “mom, I don’t like games, I just want to practice at home.” I get it buddy.
I often think back to when I was growing up, I played soccer starting in Kindergarten, transitioned to basketball around 3rd Grade up until High School and golf fit in there around the age of 9 and is still going strong. My parents and grandparents gave me every opportunity to succeed and cheered me on from the sidelines at all my games and matches. But can I tell you why golf was so different for me than the other sports and no, it wasn’t because I necessarily excelled at it more than I did basketball or soccer. It was because my family had the chance to experience the game with me and not merely on the sidelines. If I wanted to practice basketball, I would go out to our old barn and shoot hoops for hours by myself. If I wanted to practice golf, I would call up my grandpa and we would be headed to the course in no time. We would walk 9 holes on the Par 3 course down the road and he would offer his critiques in a way only he could...I would duff a shot and I’d get the “Keep your head down, your swinging too fast”…with a wry smile on his face and a chuckle, it was my grandpa’s way of getting me to buckle down and focus. We would talk about IU Basketball, how many fish we caught on our last fishing venture or how school was going. When I was headed to high school, he told me that I would get a new set of clubs if I made the High School team. In today’s standards, they definitely weren’t the cream of the crop, but they were all I needed to succeed in High School and move on to playing college golf.
My point in all this, maybe we all could learn a lesson from golf. Maybe we could afford to slow down and enjoy an activity with our children instead of merely being a spectator. What if, instead of rushing from one activity to the next, we took our kids to the golf course and hit a bucket of balls with them for 30 minutes. You don’t have to be good; you don’t even have to own a golf club or golf shoes. Over time, I bet you will be amazed at how much you can learn about your child. This year, it’s my goal to get my son and daughter out on the golf course, even at the young ages of 5 and 3, it’s not about how well they do, it’s about them looking back on their lives when they are grown and having a memory of enjoying time as a family. So, the next time you’re trying to think of a way to bring your family together, look no further than the first tee.