Golfing with our kids can be one of the most rewarding and yet challenging times we can spend with our children. The question is how to keep our younger kids focused on the game and keep them from getting frustrated or losing interest after a few miss-hits which happen to the best of us.
Golfing with my dad is a memory that stands out among the best of times we ever spent together. I still remember the smell of the grass and leather in the trunk when he’d open it up to change into his golf shoes and get his gear together for our rounds.
I always looked forward to spending 3-4 hours with my dad, walking the loop as we played, him pointing out the markers to me and teaching me the game. I learned a lot about life as well as my dad used this time to explain to me the way a man should carry himself as he makes his way in this world.
I also remember that my dad could drive the ball 260 yards, hooking it around a dog leg and be perfectly in the middle of the fairway and in great position for his second shot and me getting frustrated at my feeble attempts to get past the ladies’ tees.
So my dad did something that looking back kept me from getting frustrated and hating the game, quitting on it before I could grasp the fundamentals and strike the ball well consistently.
I don’t know if he did it on purpose or not but this worked for us and hopefully you’ll try it with your sons and daughters, keep them interested and have a lot of fun as well.
We played the games common to golfers who wager on their rounds but for us, it was all about the fun.
For fun or money, people who play golf like to make things interesting either by wagering money, a soft drink at the end of the round or just plain bragging rights and pick-up sticks or sticks is a great and fun game to play the next time you get out there on the course with your children.
Sticks is a lot of fun and very entertaining. The game is played match play and for each hole a player loses, he takes one club in the winners bag out of play.
The loser of each hole also can reclaim a club taken out of his/her bag on previous holes. Decide beforehand if putters are in play or not. Usually, players agree to keep the putters out of it and leave them alone as they are integral to the game but including them does add to the fun.
Personally, putting with a wedge or a 2-Iron can be easy if you practice for just a few minutes before your next round so I suggest including the putter and after just a few minutes putting with clubs other than your putter, you and your boy will be able to be creative.
The reason why I found this game to be so much fun is that even though I could never beat my dad on most holes, it was great fun to watch him get creative and try to punch and run his 6-Iron to make the ball travel as far as a 4-Iron or tee off with 5-iron on a par 5.
I also learned a lot of strategy playing this game.
Later in life I would play this game with my friends and I learned from my dad to not immediately grab the driver from my opponents bag as most people do.
It is the worst club to take away, period. Most players would actually do better without their driver, using their 3-Wood or 2-Iron to tee off with, leaving them 220 yards in the middle of the fairway instead of 250 yards deep into the rough.
Playing this game with my dad also taught me to determine my opponents weaknesses and what clubs to choose first. Reading people in this regard helped me to be able to read people off the course later in life as well.
For example, I learned 2 things playing sticks with my dad and I often think about them when dealing with people today.
1. The best club to take first is the sand wedge, hands down. A lot of players rely on the sand wedge for nearly every shot within 100 yards.
It is nearly impossible to get up from any greenside bunkers without that club.
2. Look to see if the player carries a lob wedge. If they do, grab that first and then the sand wedge. Clearly, if a player carries a lobber, they rely on that and thats what life is all about getting an edge.
Both of these lessons translate well in my daily negotiations and I often smile when I see the equivalent of a lob wedge in someone’s argument during a negotiation.
Although a silly golf game for sure, this is an excellent game for fathers (and mothers) to play with their kids.
Keeping our kid’s interest on the course while they duff their way around is essential to their future love of golf. I see too many parents putting the emphasis on “head down, weight shift…etc” and being too serious about it before their kids have the chance to really love what they’re doing.
Sure kids want to score well, they like to be competitive just like us but most kids don’t have the physical make-up to develop consistent swings yet and they get frustrated quickly.
Avoid having your kids get fed-up with feeling like they have to be so technically precise to enjoy being out there with you that they give up and go sit in front of the TV.
These are precious times with our children and getting away from the world for a few hours in the quiet environment the golf course provides is priceless. Use a game like “sticks” to keep their interest fresh and help them enjoy the time out there with you.
Believe me, by keeping things interesting you’ll be enriching their lives forever and someday, maybe they’ll think back fondly of the smell of your trunk and emulate the way you carry yourself as you navigate the course without your putter.