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Welcome to Crazy Town: Golf Dads Need to Chill Out, Man!

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Golf has become a big-time sport driven by not only opportunities for college golf scholarships, but also fame and fortune on the PGA Tour. Although some play for the love of the game, more and more start playing because they or their parents want them to be golf’s next billionaire.

I have watched the mania evolve over last the 25 years: first as a player, then as a junior golf coach, then as a college golf coach, and now as a mentor to some of the best junior golfers in the world. It’s all heady and intoxicating, and it has a huge impact on the relationships between players and their parents and coaches. What I see ranges from healthy and loving to what can best be described as “Crazy Town.”

Crazy Town is a land of delusion, frustration and slow, painful failure. It’s a place where the whole point of the process is missed. For me, golf is not about where a kid places in a tournament or shoots; it’s about teaching young people the habits and skills they need to succeed at everything, not just golf. Nowadays, too many parents and coaches create zero-sum evaluations during a child’s most fragile and important stages of maturation and development. The result is not only athletic failure, but also the erosion of faith in family, coaching, and the process of success.

Here are three key considerations for a parent who wants to avoid crazy town.

1. Do You Know Where You End And Your Child Begins?

The golf belongs to the kid. It‘s your child’s golf endeavor, not “yours” or “ours.” If you hear yourself talking about how “we” played today, what “we” shot, or what “we” won, then you already reside in Crazy Town.

Do you speak about “our” grades at school, “our” piano lessons, or cleaning “our” room? If so, maybe you have lost sight of where you end and where your child begins. Quickly get some separation, distance, and perspective. This is not about you or your family; it’s about your kid.

2. Who Wants This? You or Your Child?

The fact is that golf requires lots of long and lonely hours if your child want to play at the highest level, especially at the beginning when the child needs to invest huge sums of time in creating the proper patterns. The fact is that you can only demand they invest their time for so long. As children mature, they need to be able to explore boundaries and learn to be responsible for themselves. Once you have helped your child understand the investment needed and provided them a safe learning environment, your job is done.

At this point, your child is either going to have ignition and work at their game or not. If they don’t, then I recommend you help your child find another endeavor that does create a spark in them. It might be track and field that ignites the passion to learn and grow. Whatever it is, your job is to help your kid find it… then leave him or her to follow the dream.

3. Have You and Your Junior Learned the 6 C’s?

Dr. Richard Learner is a researcher at Tufts University where he’s the chair of the Institute of Applied Research in Youth Development. He’s known for his theory of relations between life-span human development and social change, and for his research about the relationship between adolescents and their peers, families, schools, and communities. His work centers around children developing what he terms the 5 C’s: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, and Caring.

Researcher Jean Cote suggests a sixth “C,” specifically for sports: Competition. Together, the research suggests that when students work toward developing these skills, they become more successful human beings. Ask yourself if what you are doing is developing the 6 C’s in your child, because if it is then you and and him or her are likely headed in a good direction.

Remember, introducing sport to your son or daughter is not about the scholarship dollars or potential fame; it’s a way to teach them the skills and habits they need to live enriching and fulfilling lives. Use sport to help your child learn competition, friendship, humility, self-confidence, determination, challenging work, passion, and honesty. Reward them for learning these lessons and remind them, using your own experience, why they are playing sport. Over the long run, I promise you will be happy you did.

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Tom54

    Jul 31, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I know when I was young I would have loved the opportunity to play golf all the time if we would have been able to afford it. I’m not sure whether it would have gotten boring or not but I always enjoyed the time spent on the course. All parents try to look out for their childs best interest but I guess some also guilty of trying to produce the next golf phenom. At least young golfers are learning a game for life. Nothing wrong with that

  2. Ron

    Jul 31, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    I don’t completely disagree, but this isn’t the point of the article. The article focuses on parents who are basically putting too much pressure on their kids to succeed at sports. Your argument as to whether or not the parent is a good teacher for the kid is something entirely different.

    I agree with this article. Seen it so many times growing up playing a different sport than golf. Parents try to live vicariously through their kids and sometimes even treat them differently based on how well they played that particular day. It’s sick.

  3. James G

    Jul 31, 2017 at 10:25 am

    My son plays in competitions at 13 and I see what the author is speaking about all the time. Some insane parents that believe their child is the next Nicklaus. It’s the same mentality I see at son’s baseball games as well. It’s as if the parents seek some sort of validation for the lives if their child is a star athlete. Sad thing is, many of the kids who are good at 12 or 13, won’t be the top players at say 17 or so. Some kids are on the steady path of improvement and some that are great at a young age are as good as they will ever be at that young age.

  4. Lloyd

    Jul 31, 2017 at 2:49 am

    Rules: Our staff and moderators maintain a friendly environment that is in compliance with our rules, specifically in our forums. From Day 1, we’ve asked the GolfWRX Community to do the following, and it has been instrumental to our growth:

    Take the high road.
    Treat others as you would want to be treated.
    Lead by example.

    Today, we are the world’s largest and best online golf community, and we will continue to innovate and improve our site so we can stay on top and remain the go-to destination for golf on the web.

    True to our mission, we will also continue to prize and protect the purity of the opinions of our readers, and will evolve our platforms to make them more engaging. We want our readers to feel proud to contribute to GolfWRX, and protect their interests by offering an unbiased place for them to learn, share and discuss.
    Hey ooffaa, abide by the forum rules or flick off!

  5. Mad-Mex

    Jul 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    ATTENTION PARENTS: Its a GAME!!!!!!!!!!! your role is take the kid to the field or course AND pick them up,,,,,,,,,,

  6. Lloyd

    Jul 30, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Interesting to note that ooffaa only responds to Obs with personal attacks to threadjack his comments. Makes you wonder how ooffa is connected to the forum. Anybody?

  7. Tom

    Jul 29, 2017 at 11:30 am

    parents reliving their past thru their children…..

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Courses

Barnbougle Lost Farm: 20 Holes of Pure Joy

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Another early day in Tasmania, and we were exploring the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-design, Barnbougle Lost Farm. The course was completed in 2010, four years after the neighbor Barnbougle Dunes, resulting in much excitement in the world of golf upon opening.

Johan and I teed off at 10 a.m. to enjoy the course at our own pace in its full glory under clear blue skies. Barnbougle Lost Farm starts out quite easy, but it quickly turns into a true test of links golf. You will certainly need to bring some tactical and smart planning in order to get close to many of the pin positions.

The third hole is a prime example. With its sloping two-tiered green, it provides a fun challenge and makes you earn birdie — even if your tee and approach shots put you in a good position. This is one of the things I love about this course; it adds a welcome dimension to the game and something you probably don’t experience on most golf courses.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The 4th is an iconic signature hole called “Sals Point,” named after course owner Richard Sattler’s wife (she was hoping to build a summer home on the property before it was turned into a golf course). A strikingly beautiful par-3, this hole is short in distance but guarded with luring bunkers. When the prevailing northwesterly wind comes howling in from the ocean, the hole will leave you exposed and pulling out one of your long irons for the tee shot. We left No. 4 with two bogeys with a strong desire for revenge.

Later in the round, we notice our scorecard had a hole numbered “13A” just after the 13th. We then noticed there was also an “18A.” That’s because Barnbougle Lost Farm offers golfers 20 holes. The designers believed that 13A was “too good to leave out” of the main routing, and 18A acts as a final betting hole to help decide a winner if you’re left all square. And yes, we played both 13A and 18A.

I need to say I liked Lost Farm for many reasons; it feels fresh and has some quirky holes including the 5th and the breathtaking 4th. The fact that it balks tradition with 20 holes is something I love. It also feels like an (almost) flawless course, and you will find new things to enjoy every time you play it.

The big question after trying both courses at Barnbougle is which course I liked best. I would go for Barnbougle Dunes in front of Barnbougle Lost Farm, mostly because I felt it was more fun and offered a bigger variation on how to play the holes. Both courses are great, however, offering really fun golf. And as I wrote in the first part of this Barnbougle-story, this is a top destination to visit and something you definitely need to experience with your golf friends if you can. It’s a golfing heaven.

Next course up: Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

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News

PGA Tour Pro and Parkland Alum Nick Thompson is Part of the Solution

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The tragic shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida moved the entire nation in a deep and profound way. The tragic events touched many lives, including PGA Tour Professional Nick Thompson, who attended Stoneman Douglas for four years and was born and raised just minutes from there.

On our 19th Hole podcast, Thompson described in detail just how connected he is to the area and to Douglas High School.

“That’s my alma mater. I graduated in ’01. My wife Christen and I graduated in ’01. I was born and raised in Parkland…actually Coral Springs, which is a neighboring city. Stoneman Douglas actually is just barely in Parkland but it’s pretty much right on the border. I would probably guess there are more kids from Coral Springs that go to Stoneman Douglas than in Parkland. So I spent 29 years in Coral Springs before moving to Palm Beach Gardens where I live now, but I was born and raised there. I spent four years of high school there and it’s near and dear to my heart.”

Thompson’s siblings, LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson and Web.com pro Curtis, did not attend Douglas High School.

His reaction to the news was immediate and visceral.

“I was in shock,” said Thompson. “I just really couldn’t believe it because Coral Springs and Parkland are both wonderful communities that are middle to upper class and literally, like boring suburbia. There’s not much going on in either city and it’s kind of hard to believe that it could happen there. It makes you think almost if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere. I think that’s one of the reasons why it has really gotten to a lot of people.”

Thompson knew personally some of the names that have become familiar to the nation as a result of the shooting, including Coach Aaron Feis, who died trying to save the lives of students.

“I went to high school with Aaron Feis,” said Thompson. “He was two years older than me, and I knew of him…we had a fair amount of mutual friends.”

And while the events have provoked much conversation on many sides, Thompson was moved to action.

“We started by my wife and I, the night that it happened, after we put our kids to bed, we decided that we needed to do something,” Thompson said. “The first thing we decided was we were going to do ribbons for the players, caddies, and wives. We did a double ribbon of maroon and silver, the school colors, pin them together and wrote MSD on the maroon section. We had the media official put them out on the first tee, so all the players were wearing them. It’s been great.”

“I got together with the media guys and Ken Kennerly, the tournament director of The Honda Classic and they have been amazing. The amount of players that had the ribbons on, I was just watching the coverage to see, is incredible. I actually spoke to Tiger today and thanked him for wearing the ribbon. We really appreciate it, told him I went to high school there. I mean the only thing he could say was that he was sorry, it’s an unfortunate scenario and he was happy to wear the ribbon, do whatever he could.”

Thompson is quick to note the help that he has received in his efforts.

“It’s not just me. My wife has been just as instrumental in getting this done as me. I just, fortunately, have the connection with the PGA Tour to move it in the right direction even faster. I have the luxury of having a larger platform that can get my words out and everything we’re trying to do faster than most people. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart so it was just literally perfect with The Honda Classic coming in town.”

Thompson has also been involved in fundraising that goes to help the survivors and victims’ families. GoFundMe accounts supported by Thompson and the PGA Tour have raised in excess of 2.1 million dollars in just a week.

“One of the most important uses for this money is counseling for victims, for these kids who witnessed this horrific event, or have one degree of separation,” Thompson said. “Counseling for kids who lost a friend or a classmate, who need counseling and to help them with their PTSD essentially. I think that’s one of the most important things is helping all these kids deal with what has happened.”

Thompson acknowledged the fact that the entire Parkland family is activated to help in the healing. As for his efforts, it’s the product of his recognition of just how fortunate his life has been and a heart for service.

“Golf has given so much to me that it was the perfect time to give back even more than I already have. It’s the best we can do. We’re just trying to make a difference. ”

Listen to the entire interview on a special edition of The 19th Hole with Michael Williams on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Podcasts

TG2: What irons did Knudson finally get fit into?

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GolfWRX equipment expert Brian Knudson gets his first ever iron fitting. He dishes about his favorite irons, some irons that didn’t work for him, and he discusses the wide array of shafts that he tried. And then, he reveals what irons and shafts he got fit into. His irons of choice may surprise you.

Check out the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

jewkh

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19th Hole

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