I used to love this game because of the challenge it presented. I wanted my next shot to be better than the last. I wanted my next score to be lower than my last. I wanted to improve my game. Then fatherhood came and time became more of a commodity. I didn’t have the time to get better, I barely had the time to play at all.
When the boys began to express an interest in golf, and I started to take them out on the course, my goals changed. A new challenge presented itself: “How do I share this game with my sons?”
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years and the advice I’d impart upon other parents interested in the same:
I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that kids should learn to play on the range. Stepping foot on the course is a key component to learning about the game. Not just from an etiquette standpoint. Courses aren’t flat and shots have consequences (not always terrible).
We started with minimal clubs from a minimal distance. Tee boxes did not come into play for quite a while. We dropped a ball in the fairway and advanced it, with occasional foot wedges and multiple mulligans, always keeping up with the group in front of us. We fist-pumped the spectacular, shrugged off bad breaks, and learned from mistakes. My kids were playing a game and they loved it.
“59 watch” is not in play. Playing golf with your kids can be a roller coaster of emotions. They’ll hit spectacular shots time and again, leading them to believe that every shot is possible and every hole is a birdie opportunity. I don’t stifle this enthusiasm, I encourage it. Go for it! Enjoying the game is about embracing the challenge, the risk as well as the reward. Kids can swing with a freedom and confidence that is admirable and that should be rewarded, not stifled.
This approach may not result in a tour card but it has kept them coming back and I couldn’t ask for much more.
It doesn’t take 4 hours to hit 80-100 golf balls, just ask any Ranger Rick who can burn through a large bucket in no time. That time between shots is appreciated when I’m with my kids. Our chats walking down the fairways last a long time, more than any phone conversations I will ever have with them. We chat about mundane things like ranking the best golfers, the funniest movies, or best meals. We just talk, and every so often we hit a ball.
I’ve had the pleasure of sharing fairways with my sons for the past 7 years. I pinch myself every time we tee it up, not because of the score, or the shots, or the skills. I relish the time. Getting to spend the time with my sons is an absolute gift. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my oldest spin back a wedge and my youngest smash a drive, however those are just highlights of an overall experience that is much more rewarding.
About the Author, Nate Carr:
Our team had the chance to ‘virtually’ sit down with Nate to hear more about his experience with golfing with his kids and about his passion for the sport.
Nate grew up learning to love golf from his Grandfather. And while he’s thankful to have been able to play beautiful courses throughout those years, what he valued most was the 4-5 hours he got to spend with his Grandpa. This is the philosophy that he aims to pass on to his 4 kids (2 avid golfers, and 2 soon-to-be golf lovers!) – that the golf course is a place to have experiences together, not about a scorecard.
“It wasn’t about making them love golf, it was about being with them.”
Nate has a blog called Carr for the Course where he documents courses played and memories made on golf courses around the world. He also has an Instagram Account @golfwithyourkids where he hopes to normalize bringing your kids to the golf course and encourage others to make memories with their families.
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