My eldest son is 3 years old for a few more months. He’s a little tall, a little thin, and an absolute fireball of energy. He is super active and never, ever tires of playing or learning new things.
After his “Soccer” team wound down this spring, The Wife and I discovered that there is a bit of a dearth of team sports activities for kids under four years old during the summer. It was a real shame because he enjoyed the soccer team, interacting with new kids and coaches not named Mom or Dad. I know we enjoyed that he was getting bona fide exercise.
Almost immediately after I resigned myself to a sports-less summer, luck and fate intervened. I happened to take the Big Bud with me to Man O’ War Golf when I needed to purchase some new golf shoes. He loves to test out putters in their store, so I knew it would be time well spent for him.
One of the teaching pros (Tennye Ohr) came over to us, gave us a quick tip on how he should grip his putter, sized him up for a set of ultralight clubs (which, it turns out, he needed because he’s tall and thin and loafs on the push ups I try to goad him into), and informed us that there is a Wee Kids clinic on Saturday mornings.
The Big Bud had enjoyed hitting putts with me on my mat in the basement and hitting Birdie Balls with me in the back yard off and on. But I wasn’t sure how much of that was simply wanting to do emulate what I was doing and what he knew that I enjoyed so much, and how much was legitimate interest in the game of golf.
The first session or two, with him being the youngest kid there, and also probably having the shortest attention span, were….challenges. He could handle his putter okay, but he was woefully overmatched by the size and weight of his other golf clubs. Controlling the club on a full swing attempt was a real issue for him, and I feared he was going to lose interest quickly.
However, after one clinic, I brought him into a hitting bay with me, partly to watch what a full swing looks like. We ended up taking turns hitting a small bucket, and after a dozen or so misfires, he actually got a ball airborne, hitting it over a puddle 12 or 15 feet away.
He lit up like Clark Griswold’s house at Christmas. His excitement was obvious, and I knew, in that moment, that he was hooked on golf. We ended up getting him some ultralight clubs soon thereafter, and Saturday mornings quickly became our second favorite time of the week.
I knew his interest in golf was genuine because he was equally happy to attend the golf clinics with Mom or Dad. The instructors did such a nice job of keeping the kids’ attention (for the most part) that we could even get away with Little Brother attending in his stroller without incident.
I hope his interest lasts. We’ve never told him that he has to go to golf practice, instead simply asking him if he’d like to go on Saturday. We’ll keep going as long as he says “Yes.”
And I can’t wait until 2019, when I think he’ll be big enough and old enough to come out onto the course with me for a short walk of a few holes. If you are fortunate enough to live somewhere with a junior golf program or a teaching pro with the patience to work with small children, take advantage of it if you can. I doubt you’ll regret introducing children to the greatest game in the world.