Category Archives: Sportsmanship
Hopefully we remember many of the important “firsts” in our lives; first date, first hole in one, etc. The most memorable golf moment for me was beating my pops on the course for the first time, and it wasn’t easy. We only played 9 holes and I had to eagle the 9th hole at Mountain View G.C. to beat him, it was one of my first rounds in the 30’s and my first eagle. I put all my eggs in one basket and I’m pretty sure my dad was more proud of me than I was happy.
As a coach experiencing my athlete’s “firsts” might be more memorable for me than it is for them, many times I think it is. When I reflect back on the past year I remember the first box jump from one of our young athletes, my daughter Mira’s first 60 yard drive and seeing an athlete figure something out on their own without my prompting, are very memorable for me. It is why I love coaching, to see our young athletes perform or complete something they were unable to do the day before.
Yesterday I had a great opportunity to introduce 6 athletes to the golf course, which is one of the best moments I have as a golf coach. Their parents have a variety of expectations; score well, hit good shots, behave, etc. I respect each of those expectations and they are realistic but I have a different goal for each of them, HAVE FUN! Before the round I try to make sure our parents know that is my goal, that is why we play golf!
Here are a couple of pictures from the course yesterday.
Most of the guys are 6 or 7 years old so we had to take a couple of breaks and we discussed what to do on the course and how everyone liked the golf course. It’s always great to hear their responses; it’s hilly, I need a snack, let’s hit a ball in the water. We are always on our toes, which makes it fun and exciting for me!
I try to leave all of our young athletes with a couple of messages.
- Remember our golf etiquette and congratulate other players on their good shots
- When a shot doesn’t work out as we planned, how do we recover and prepare for our next shot
I’d like to think everyone will remember those concepts, particularly #1. It was great to see the athletes hit good shots and the other guys congratulated them without being prompted. That tells me that our coaching team is doing a good job imparting the skills to be good golfers but more importantly to be good individuals. Golf is just the medium for us to influence our young athletes to be good people.
Yes……Golf Changes Lives!
I’m often asked, “Why do you love golf so much?”
I really enjoy playing golf, particularly when things come together and I hit a few good shots in a row or make a nice putt. But that isn’t my motivation behind playing and teaching golf, it’s everything else that goes along with golf. My motivations include spending time with my family and friends, being outside, putting down my cell phone, testing myself by trying tough shots, not watching tv, having fun and LAUGHING!
I look back at my most enjoyable moments in golf and always remember those moments that I laugh and have fun. In our Academy Classes this week (click here) we have been discussing expectations; the expectations of our athletes for themselves, of the coaches, of the class and our expectations of them. The overwhelming response was they expect golf class to be FUN! I love it, we have done our job to promote golf as a FUN thing to do.
Here are a few of my favorite golf memories;
- 9 holes with my dad, brother and grandfather (my dream foursome). It only happened once but I will never forget it.
- Getting beat by my best friend shooting his career round
- Beating my dad for the first time
- Giving my daughter her first golf lesson
- Trying to give my wife a lesson and breaking a window…….my bad (she can find a new coach, I’m not the right fit!)
- Watching my son love grabbing a club and hit anything he can
- Playing Wasatch State Park Golf Course in the fall, just do it…..
- Late night putting contests using the headlights of our cars for light
- Hearing about going to the golf course with mom, dad, grandpa, friends by my students. Especially for the first time……this is what golf is all about!
The game means so much more than scoring low and playing well. We can test ourselves, spend quality time with people, smell fresh cut grass and experience life. Too many of us spend to much time on our cell phones, working and watching tv. Golf gives us a great opportunity to interact with those we care about and get to know people. A friend told me that the best way to get to know someone is to play golf and spend 5 hours with them, it is so true.
I’ve added a few pictures of some of my favorite golf moments.
I was “forced” to hit the tennis ball off the first tee. Luckily Devin killed his drive so we were good!
Giving my daughter (Mira, with the pink tutu) one of her first golf lessons.
After golf can be just as good as during golf. Many haven’t seen my dad like this but he has his moments…..
Taking Mira to her first golf tournament. She had no idea what was going on but walked 4 holes with me and really liked the “girl in pink!”
Gotta start with the putts you can make. Mira is teaching Sam how to putt….how cool is that!
Possibly my favorite golf picture I have. My son Sam couldn’t be happier making a putt.
To sum all of this up, each of us have to know why we play golf. Why we chase a little golf ball around and why we spend 5 hours on finely manicured grass fields. The majority of us do this to have FUN, not to shoot our career low round. It’s nice to play well but please remember why we play golf – It’s the greatest sport to get to know yourself, your family, your friends, and spend quality time with those you care about.
Remind yourself the next time you hit a poor shot, JUST LAUGH, you are out having FUN!
Here is one of my favorite games and the multiple skills we can teach while having fun – TIC, TAC, TOE!
A simple game of Tic, Tac, Toe on the putting green is one of the best teaching settings I have ever used. Every young athlete absolutely loves playing this simple game and we can use this to teach a variety of different skills at the same time.
When one team hits a putt in a square they take control of that square. Like you would expect three squares in a row wins the game. The one caveat is that if they make a putt in the hole of the middle square that team can take control of any square they want.
One of the challenges with our younger golfers is simply, making putts. A 5 or 6 year old can have challenges making a 10 foot putt and can become frustrated very quickly. My younger athletes love this game because it’s something they can accomplish because we change the size of the target. Instead of a 4 1/4 inch hole they now have a 18″x18″ target or larger. They can decide which square they putt to instead of always having to putt to a specific hole or target.
We can also bring multiple ages of athletes together, the younger athletes (4-7 yrs old) can team up with older athletes (8-13 yrs old).
The younger athletes love partnering up with the older athletes while the older athletes can take give a bit of guidance and show off their skills. Golf is an individual sport and encouraging interaction between athletes can be challenging. The strategy and excitement that a team game creates makes golf much more enjoyable and the kids love it!
Here are some of the concepts that we teach while playing Tic, Tac, Toe:
- Golf skills – we stick to one specific skill each week. During December we focused on Posture and ensuring each FUNdamental athlete (4-7 yrs old) was able to hang their arms down and hinge from the hips. As our athletes progress and learn new skills the goals of each theme become more refined and catered to each athlete.
- Etiquette – to me this is the most important overall concept I can impart on any of our young athletes. We discuss the concept of sportsmanship and what golf “manners” really mean. When a 5 yr old competes, he/she wants to win, but they don’t generally grasp the difference between personal success and the opponents failure. Young athletes cheer when they or their teammates make a putt and/or when the other team misses a putt. It is not acceptable to cheer when someone else misses a putt and I only stop class for 2 situations; injury / injury prevention and to discuss etiquette opportunities.
- Strategy – the negotiation and discussion involved in deciding where to putt the ball is priceless. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the back and forth while trying to be aggressive and take a square or be more defensive and block the other team. 4 and 5 year olds have few opportunities to justify their position and convince their teammates.
- Pressure – one shot to block the other team and win the game. How often does a 5 year old have multiple people counting on them to perform? To create a pressure situation for a young athlete in a comfortable atmosphere is unique and something I love to see. It is awesome to see them succeed and have their entire team cheer for them.
All of this from a simple game of Tic, Tac, Toe!
Playing fun and challenging games is something every young athlete enjoys. I am constantly striving to develop new games which allow our young athletes to exhibit new golf skills, learn more about themselves and put themselves in new situations. GAMES RULE!
Next time you go for a practice session with your young athlete play a game. You don’t need the tape or anything elaborate, unless you want to of course!
What games do you like that are easy and fun for your young athlete?