Getting Hooked on Golf
HOW MY YOUNGEST FINALLY TAKES THE BAIT
This week one of my more challenging golf students had a breakthrough. He is my son, 16 years old, love him to death but golf was about as enticing to him as a stubbed toe. Something clicked the other day and dare I say he is now wanting to play more golf.
Of course as a dad and PGA golfer I'm tickled pink since what he likes to do mostly, like most young men, is play video games! Maybe it's generational or just the new normal but sitting in front of a video game fumbling around with a joystick is interesting for about.... 22 seconds....at least to me.
So nurturing this tiny glowing ember of interest with my son is a fragile operation not unlike trying to get the camp fire going with just one match on a windy afternoon with green wood. Ok, I'm being overly dramatic but do you feel me?
Fast forward to the driving range. There's a light sprinkle, we're the only ones hitting. He's done my little warm-up drill of making good practice swings to brush the mat in the right place (left of where the ball would be) and now he's hitting but the balls are going to the right of the target. He doesn't know what to do so I suggest a little tweak and thankfully it works the balls shoot out straight at the target. I see in his eyes a realization, "whoa my old man does know what he's talking about once in awhile". And there you go, hooked him like a big fish......I tried to be cool but inside I'm doing cartwheels because he's hitting "shots" and he is digging it.
So he's on a roll I decide to "double down" and I pull out his nemesis, the driver. And like magic, he's nailing that too. Of course I'm biting my tongue, since I'd like to see a little more hip turn for power but with 20 plus years of teaching, I know when to shut up since often times sometimes less is more. So he's having fun, even with the slight drizzle he continues banging out good shots and we finish off on a good note and jump in the car delighted.
So our next challenge is moving from the driving range to the golf course to golf. Playing golf is a whole different deal then hitting balls on the driving range as you all now. Playing tests us. Our egos get very involved and dealing with all the distractions as a newer golfer is usually overwhelming to say the least. Hence my quick little plug for playing lessons. Six or nine holes with a coach is invaluable to build confidence for all levels but especially the golfers teetering on the fence of becoming a golfer or not.
When I take golfers out on the golf course we start on the range. We’ll do a five-minute stretch to get loosened up but also to connect again to our body’s. Then we’ll make a few no ball swings to get dialed into the brushing the ground in the right place. Because the ball gets in the way of the swing instead the idea of hitting at the ball. Then after hitting a few short, medium and long distances we’ll line up a few shots by picking a spot down the target line and rehearsing the pre-shot routine. Now we’re ready as we’re going to be and we go tee it up.
Ideally we’re walking but that doesn’t also work out and some folks aren’t fit enough to walk so we’ll ride. In a playing lesson it’s less about golf swing and more about picking shots and trying to make them happen. I might suggest a shot or two along the way but I’m watching you play. I’ll also try to match my shots to yours. If you drive it 175 yards I’ll try to do the same. By watching a better player play you appreciate the consistency and tidiness inside of 100 yards.
After our playing I’ll summarize our experience and suggest some tips on how to get better. Spoiler alert- Almost everyone can get better with their wedge shots around the green, that’s a given but I’ll find something in your game that you can take steps to improve whether it’s a miss pattern or a way to get more consistency through safer shot choices.
So I’ll be doing the same with my son Erik. I hope this fires you up for someone you’d like to see playing more or maybe it’s you.
All the best with your Golf! It’s a great game when you get over those humps!
What have you done to improve your experience on the golf course? Do you have a story to share about playing with your parents or kids?