In a half selfish, half well-meaning moment I introduced my oldest son to golf.
It was the day of his fourth birthday. Before any relatives arrived for cake, my little guy and I went to the Cuyuna County Club driving range where we peppered the first 10 yards of it with red-striped golf balls.
I offered little instruction, but simply pointed him in the right direction, spread his feet out a little bit wider for balance and told him to hang on to the club. As I stood behind him, I swung the club with him a few times so he could get the feel of what to do and then he was on his own.
He was in his little area with a bucket of balls, his golf bag that includes three clubs and a big smile. I was in my area with my bucket and probably an even bigger smile.
Finally, I thought, someone to golf with that I can beat.
It is my hope that he picks up the game. I'm in no hurry for him to start playing. I guess the selfish part of me believes it will give me a reason to play more golf, but at the same time present a common bond for the two of us. An avenue for life's lessons to transpire. A place and time where I can teach him about rules, etiquette, work ethic, personal responsibility and more.
I don't have a hidden agenda for him to play on the PGA Tour. I don't need a child prodigy. I don't even need him to play high school golf. If he wants to he will and those decisions will be his to make. What I want is someone to play golf with. Sounds juvenile, maybe, but we're stuck on this Earth together for, hopefully, a long time and we might as well have something to do that we both enjoy.
I do hope he enjoys it half as much as I do.
Maybe not the same amount because that would be borderline child abuse. Three of the last four books I've read were about golf. I watch the golf channel a little bit every day. I read my Golf Magazine in one day, usually enjoying the back page column by David Feherty before I turn off the lights. I'm a golf nut, but it's fun for me.
During our first day at the range, I asked my son numerous times if he was having fun. Each time he answered "yes." My questions were followed by many of his own. Where were all the other people going? What's a golf course? Why doesn't my ball go very far? I couldn't even try to answer the last one as I wonder the same thing about my shots.
Golf, in its non-competitive form, is a social outing. During my most recent vacation, I was able to play The Classic at Madden's and Grand View Lodge's The Preserve with a few friends. All the while I kept thinking about when I could play these fantastic courses with my sons. Picture it. Four hours with your boys out in the quiet playing golf and talking about anything.
Again, I'm in no hurry. I realize that neither of them may like golf. If that's the case then it's off to the wrestling mat, the basketball court, a track and field meet. For while I don't want to push my children into one sport over the other, I do want them involved in something. Because I'm a sports writer, I would love it to be a sport, but if it is music, Boy Scouts, the arts or whatever else - I will be happy.
After an hour, my son hit the last big shot off a tee. We packed our clubs, picked up some strawberry milk and a Kit Kat and talked about his upcoming birthday party, who was going to be there and what he may be getting for gifts.
Just a little boy with wide eyes and a smile and a dad with an even bigger smile.
jeremy millsop, sports writer, may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.
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