There are no second chances, and no mulligans in raising children. Unfortunately, children watch how we live, rather than listen to what we say. Observation is their compass. “Go outside and play” we say, but do we do that enough ourselves? We do what we can, and only a parent can really appreciate just how hard it is getting kids from one activity to another. All those hours spent in a car together, but in a sort of vortex of wasted time. It lacks the ‘quality’ factor.
Golf is considered a momentous “time-eater” by many. If only I had a dollar for every time my son said, “can we go play golf on the course” and I replied, “I don’t know buddy, I don’t think I have time today.” Every time I say something like that, I get a sick feeling. Without realizing it, I have what I refer to as a ‘cats in the cradle’ moment. Oh that most poignant of songs by the late, great, Harry Chapin
And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home, Dad
I don't know when, but we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then
What I find surprising, is that not one time that I have rearranged my schedule to spend some time on a golf course with my children, have I ever really had to rearrange anything important. The fact is, nothing I do in my busy life is really going to matter much in five years; but they will.
Something else I find surprising, for some odd reason, is that every time I do get out on the course with my kids, something monumental happens, with me or them. My son will sink a 10 foot putt, or I flush a 7 iron to 3’ on my nemesis hole, or my 3 year old says “I love golf because you love golf daddy.” Hard to believe it can be so difficult to make something so important to all of us a priority.
“I can’t wait to get my kid out there.” I hear that all the time, and in my head I think, ‘what are you waiting for?’ Golf is perfect for 2-4 year olds. In fact, I sincerely believe that the ideal age to expose a child to golf is between 1 and 2, and the ideal age to start playing is 2-5. Golf will never be easier to grasp. I am always reminded that Einstein once said he tried golf, but it was too complicated; he should have started younger, played longer!
For the skeptics out there, I have seen 1 ½ -3 year olds participate in a golf camp with our friend Nicole Weller PGA, and they get it! They love it! Brendon Elliott PGA is another world class instructor who has a passion for teaching kids who are far younger than the typically traditional age of 6. The genius behind Brendon and Nicole is that they focus on fun, and they focus on growing an interest in this wonderful game. If there is any doubt on what these kids take away from this early exposure, all you have to do is check out the kids who have been playing the game for years and years: the six year olds!
I didn’t marry a golfer! I did buy her clubs when we were dating, and hoped to get her into it, but didn’t exactly make it a priority. She, however was very attracted to the game, because she was around some great characters who all loved golf! I remember her asking at dinner one night, “how do you guys remember every shot you hit in an entire round?” Not sure who it was, but I think it was The Littlest Golfer Inc.’s Chief Marketing Officer who said “we remember every shot we have ever hit - period.” The seed was planted.
My wife started playing golf with the EWGA (Executive Women’s Golf Association,) and even started taking some lessons. It wasn’t long before I was watching the kids, and she was out on the golf course. “You should have seen my drive on the 2nd hole... I was only about 100 yards out from the green,” was a typical post-round comment. Pretty soon we were sitting on the couch talking about squaring the face at impact. “Honey, I love you, but your take away is way too fast, you really need to fix that.” About the most spiritual event in my life, aside from the birth of my children, was coming home one day, and her saying “get changed, we are going to play golf!” I was amazed at what I saw. She could get around a golf course, and she was having fun! We have played together for fun and in charity tournaments, but even more important; we have played with our kids. It is an awesome thing to see your little boy look at his mommy and say “wow mommy, you’re pretty good!”
The point is this: golf is a multi-generational sport that mirrors life and builds relationships, and is the perfect game for families! Let your kids “Start Younger, Play Longer®!” If you don’t play, learning with them will be a journey full of memories that seem like gifts- because they are. Life is short, and time spent with people you love, doing something everyone can do together, is an investment in time, love, and your children’s future.