Perhaps you are a new dad, with a newborn or a few toddlers in tow, or your kids are older, maybe in elementary school. Maybe they are already in high school. Many guys in your shoes look to the golf course as a place to escape the chaos and noise of your house. What I am about to propose is entirely different. Take the chaos—namely your 4-year-old chatterbox, 6-year-old tutu wearing princess, or defiant 14-year-old you’d like to send to an island—to the driving range.
The end result?
For starters, you are outside golfing. True, you’re not enjoying a company-sponsored outing, complete with a beer and day off from work with your buddies. However, the final outcome is something much greater. As you build the foundation of the game of golf with your children, you’ll also lay the foundation for a relationship with them to be revisited each time you tee up together in the years to come.
We all complain that there’s not enough time to do everything we need to do. There are lawns to mow, rooms to be painted, work emails to be returned. I’ve got news for you, fellas. Those things will always be there. The simple act of driving your child to a golf course, spending an hour or so there, and driving them home gives you precious time that can’t be interrupted by outside forces or things you “should do.” It’s just you and your child, and a bucket of balls.
You are out of the office. Your child is not in front of a computer or TV. So far, two-for-two. You are both in the great outdoors, filling your lungs with a healthy dose of Mother Nature. It may be freezing, raining, 100 degrees, or a perfect 60 and sunny. Whatever the case, you can share the experience together and round out the day with a hot chocolate or hot fudge sundae.
The chance to teach life lessons. Golf provides the perfect opportunity to subtly teach your kids the important things in life- like humility when you hit the ball well and good character when everything falls apart. The best way to do this is of course to be a good role model. In worst-case scenarios, I guess you could say it’s a good chance to teach your kids how to swear softly, and hold it together enough not to throw your clubs.
Even though it may not always feel that you’re fine-tuning your patience, you are. When I think about the hours my dad stood behind me while I dubbed my irons in exactly the same way, I think he should be given a medal for not just calling it a day. He didn’t yell, and he didn’t get frustrated with me. He just told me—over and over—what I needed to do (or not do), taking this patience to the tee, the fairway, the rough, the green, and everywhere in between. My dad didn’t give up on me, and therefore I had no choice but to not give up on myself.
Lifelong golf buddy. My only warning for the dads out there who decide to teach their kids the game is that I hope you really like to golf, because your kids just may end up loving it as well. Years later, those same sassy 7-year-olds who “hated the game” or know it all 14-year-olds who were “never going to play this dumb sport again” are going to be the ones wanting to golf with you on their days off. They’ll look forward to the time they get to golf with, and talk to their dad- as adults, and as good friends.
So, to all of the golfing dads reading this, if you love your sport, and you love your kids, take them to a golf course now. It may just turn out to be the greatest win-win in the history of golf.