Now that I have lived close to a lifetime, I can truly appreciate that quote. I’ve learned that you don’t have to play it your entire life to benefit from the game. I have seen many examples of folks learning golf at an early age, dropping the game entirely at various stages of their life and coming back to it when time allowed. It is worth noting that those folks had a distinct advantage, even if they hadn’t played it in 40 years, over those who were just taking it up for the first time. Maybe that is why, despite what you may have heard, interest in Junior Golf is steadily growing, up 7% in the U.S. since 2011.
But what is so great about this game of a lifetime for your kids? Hmmmm, let’s see…
- Anyone can play. You don’t have to be an exceptional athlete to enjoy golf. It is a non-contact sport, so there is minimal risk of injury and it’s never too early (or too late) to take up the game, but the sooner the better.
- Time spent outdoors. Seems like these days any activity that encourages kids to get exercise outdoors, enjoying nature, is a positive. Golf courses serve as scenic parks where people are active and challenged.
- Safe and Positive Environment. The social nature of the game facilitates lifelong friendships and more than any other sport exposes kids to a variety of adult mentors who all help educate your child about the game and its challenges.
- Important Life Lessons. Golfers have to learn to manage their emotions, have a positive outlook and focus on the task at hand. Such desirable traits as Integrity, Etiquette, Discipline, Respect and Persistence are essential to golf and naturally carry over into other areas of life.
- Proceed at Your Own Pace. Kids can determine how good or serious they want to be. For those on the fast track, there are junior tournaments and potential college scholarships. For others, they may prefer to just have fun playing a game with their friends. Some will drop it completely as they become young adults, only to find years later that it is an important socializing and/or business networking tool easily picked up because of the fundamentals learned as a child.
- Family Time. Golf is a great game for the entire family to enjoy together, which is a rarity these days. Even grandparents can be included. Get your little ones started early, when they want to be with you and you’ll create family memories that you will cherish forever.
All these points are powerfully communicated in the words of Dr. Gordon Fosdick of Middleton, CT whose story appeared in the Feb. 2014 Golf Digest. His wife passed away of a rare liver disease at a very early age, leaving him with two grade school fraternal twins to raise alone:
“We were all there at her bedside when she passed. The doctors had told us it would only be a matter of hours… we were all teary, but I was grateful neither child completely lost it.
I never realized how much work my wife did. Laundry never ends. Children don’t pick up after themselves or remember the things they need. After dropping them off at school, I was usually scrambling to be “not that late” for my first patient… life became as hard as I’ve ever known. I tried not to let my children see me break down.
Christopher always had a talent for golf, but after his mother’s death he immersed himself in the game. The year she died, a nine hole executive course with a range opened almost within sight of our house…
Logistically it’s a huge relief having a safe place Christopher can be for hours. I’m proud of all his competitive success, but what really gives me peace is the second family my son has found in golf. He’s become the little mayor of the course. All the employees, fine men in their 20s and 30s, are among his best friends. He watches golf in the lounge and talks equipment anyone who comes in. In other sports you’re either on or you’re off, but with golf it’s OK to just hang around.
… Without golf I’m not sure what would’ve happened to Christopher. He would have had a lot of time on his hands to go down a wrong path. When he plays golf, he feels his mother’s presence in his heart and uses it as motivation. We’ve spoken a little about this. When I pick him up from the course, it’s not unusual for a stranger to approach my car window and tell me what a great kid I’ve got. If I were picking him up someplace else, I’m not so sure this would happen.
There are a million things you can buy to help your kids learn and grow, but only a few make a real impact.
Coyote Creek GC