Fascinating to go on the golf course yesterday with one of the children that attends our weekend sessions. He is old enough and mature enough to play unassisted on the course, but it was interesting to notice how many things he did not know and was unaware of. Just a few that I noticed;
- Where to put the tee peg when playing from a winter mat?
- Where are we aiming? Where does the hole go? Where is the green?
- How many practice should he have?
- What should he do when the ball disappears into the bushes?
- What to do when he misses the ball? More than once?
- How many “misses” is he allowed?
- How do you hit it out of a fairway bunker? Should you always use a sand iron?
- Getting frustrated with shots that are poorly hit but still in play? (Scuffed straight and in the direction of the green)
- How far away are things? What club should he use?
- What happens when the ball disappears into a rabbit hole in a bunker?
- Pace of play? People are holding us up. People are waiting behind us.
- Can I reach the players in front? “Can I go yet?”
- How to hit it from a lie that is not flat?
- Control the speed of the ball when putting
- “Can I use a wood to chip over a bunker?”*
- Keeping score, we didn’t, it wasn’t even discussed. And didn’t seem relevant.
- Probably many more things that I missed or may show up as I continue to review!!
So many scenarios that he was experiencing for the first time. So many things that adults and experienced players may take for granted. So much that I could have “told” him but a question that I continually ask myself here is, does he really need to know all of this NOW? Is it just enough for him to just experience these scenarios? And enjoy the experience of playing on the course? No doubt he will learn more as he plays more, and maybe that is the point! Golf is a game learnt slowly and through different experiences, and lots of them! All the adults around him are responsible for keeping him safe, providing him with those many different opportunities, support and guide him as he learns and develops.
So, if we take children on the course allow them the time and space to experience all the many scenarios that occur for themselves. Consider what is said to them, how it is said and whether they really need to know it at that particular time. As mentioned above, golf is a game learnt slowly! Everyone should enjoy the journey.
* This was a very interesting moment when he was faced with a tough shot over a bunker, uphill to a flag that he could not see the bottom of the hole. I reckon an experienced player would have struggled! The obvious shot to see was to hit it high over the bunker so it would land softly on the green, a high skill shot and tricky to pull off. He instantly suggested he was going use his 5 wood to hit it into the bank, bump it up in the air and onto the green. Which he brilliantly executed! Certainly a lesson for his parents and I, as I had already suggested during the session to encourage and allow him to make his own decisions on club selection. Regardless of whether we think it is the decision we would make. Better to discuss shot/club selection after the shot, I feel more learning occurs that way.