With all of the options available for sports—soccer, basketball, swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, ice skating, track, cross country—the question “why golf?” may surely come up as kids choose their activities. I know it did for me. As a high school freshman, I begged my dad to let me go out for the swim team instead of golf. I was looking for a “real sport” I told him.

My dad’s response went something like this: “You want to go out for a real sport like swimming? Really? What are you going to do with swimming in the future . . . go on a date with someone and say ‘hey, baby, let’s swim around this lake?’ No. You’re going to golf. You’re going to pick a lifetime sport.”

Now, he wasn’t just pushing golf so I could go on dates, but I’m so glad he did make that point. He was right. Golf turned out to be a great, social asset for me in many areas of my life, including dating. Heck, I taught my husband how to golf while we were dating. Now, not only do my husband and I golf together, but we also golf with my mom and dad. That’s a little more fun than all of us jumping in a lake for a swim.

True, I could’ve gone out for swimming and learned how to golf later in life. But, the truth of the matter is, the older we get, the less time we have to devote to learning something as complex and as time-consuming as golf. A friend of mine has four kids—all of them involved in about a million activities (sadly, none golf, but I’m working on it). Her husband’s passion is golf. Unfortunately, she doesn’t golf and simply doesn’t have the time to devote to learn it, much less get comfortable enough to really play the game. Another friend of mine is a pharmaceutical rep whose company often asks her to play on outings. Not only are these chances to play gorgeous courses and get away from the office, they are also great networking opportunities. But guess what? My friend was a swimmer in high school and doesn’t golf.

The bottom line is, golf is a social, lifetime sport that offers countless chances for adults to network and golf with friends, partners, and family. It helps to know the game—the rules, clubs, and mechanics of the sport—coming into adulthood instead of picking it up and trying to squeeze it in between work, family, and other responsibilities.

As you and your child are considering activities, give the many benefits of golf a thought:

The early years of golf.
Let’s face it, learning to golf isn’t easy. It’s much easier to make golf mistakes and learn from them as a child than as an adult. Golf is fun but at the start but can be challenging. If people start playing as kids, they will work through that awkward golfer phase much faster than they would as an adult.

The morality of golf.
Remember that as you expose your kids to golf, you’re exposing them to valuable lessons in honesty, respect, and integrity. Yes, you’re teaching them golf, but you’re also teaching them the rules of life.

Patience and persistence in golf.
True, golf can be frustrating. But along the way, your child will pick up good character traits and learn what dedication to a sport can deliver. Unlike other sports that can easily wind a kid up, golf encourages taking time to be thoughtful and steady. Instead of just doing, young golfers learn to think and get to know themselves both inside and out.

Finally, consider golf as an investment in your present and future relationship with your child. Not all sports offer you the chance to actually get out there and play the game with your child for years to come. Even if they don’t realize it now, someday they’ll look back and thank you for the exposure to golf and the time you spent with them. They’ll also be the ones setting up a tee time so you can enjoy a day together on the course, which, I have to say, is so much better than swimming around a lake.