This is a rant.
I have a nephew who happens to be a junior golfer. He is great — soft spoken, respectful of the game, respectful of his elders. A lump of clay aching to be molded into something great.
He plays with my group and sometimes brings a few other junior golfers along. I have to say some of those kids are a handful, and that is being kind.
We all want what’s best for our kids. But at what expense? You get these cocky kids that come off rather rude. Sure they are the apple of your eye but let’s tone down that attitude. Yes, they are great golfers right now but what happens when they get older and they have to compete with the older, and perhaps more seasoned kids? Will that fragile, cocky attitude still be there or will it be squashed because some other kid is better than yours?
It’s a fine line you have to walk between keeping your kid grounded and keeping them interested in pursuing golf.
Here are some of my thoughts.
- Winning is great but playing to the best of your ability is better. Evaluate their tournament play. Did they hit the green in regulation? How many putts? Analyze their game and determine where they need to improve. Leave excuses at the door, they are not a constructive analysis of their game. You want them to do better; this is where you start.
- Have your child play with older golfers. Get them used to the fact they are not the best. There will always be someone who hits the ball longer than they do. There is someone who will always scramble better than they do to save par. Get them to learn how to do that. Teach them they may know a thing or two about golf but there is always someone who knows more than they do and can execute. Learn from them.
- Playing with older golfers should also teach them to play within their game. They will be shorter off the tee but typically straighter and not in trouble. Have them use that to their advantage.
- There is a fine line between doubt and confidence. Give them confidence. If all else fails for them show them where to find their center so they can execute. Criticism should be positive.
- I always tell this to my kids. “If you can honestly say to yourself that you did your best then that is all I ask. The trick is you have to be honest with yourself when you answer that question. ” You can ask for the moon, the stars; everything in creation but the reality is your ability — Did you do your best? You didn’t do as well on this course as you hoped? Where can you improve? Better still what could you have done differently to put you in a position to do well? Learn from your mistakes. Too many times I see these Tiger parents get angry at their kid for their failure. Look they are kids. Let them learn from their mistakes. Losing is a good thing. Handling defeat and learning from it help you to become a better player. Winning all the time, you learn nothing.
- Your child may be shorter off the tee but if you teach them to scramble well around the green they can save par. So short game is key here — chipping and putting should be their salvation. This will give them confidence.
- Teach your child respect. Respect the game. Respect others. Respect their elders. I often remind my kids that I am their parent and not their equal. They owe me that respect and I expect them to afford that same humility when speaking to other adults. If I show the proper respect to your kid when they are playing I kinda expect the same respect in return. Keep still. Pick up the flag and put it back once in a while. Please don’t step on my line; excuse yourself if you did.
- Keep your goals grounded for your kid. If your kid is the youngest in their age bracket give them attainable goals. Winning is nice but staying in the middle of their bracket is also good. Learn what the older kids are doing.
- As a parent, network. Get to know the other parents and pros; even the tournament staff. You can learn a lot about what to use and avoid. Learn from their mistakes. Where you can get special deals, etc.
- Finally have fun with your kid. This is their time. They are the reason you want the best for them. Do no loose sight of this.