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Autism and Jr. Golf


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#1 BeerPerHole

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 03:12 PM

Probably one of the strangest posts here, huh? I have a son with autism. When he was 4 I had him accompany me to the driving range and he started hitting balls with me. Now, 11, he's about to play Jr. PGA. I am curious if anybody else here has a kid or grand kid in their family with the condition and would like to share thoughts here on this. Long story short...he has taken to the game very well. The kid has a beautiful swing. I only taught him two things: the grip and to have a lag in his swing. Kept it simple...


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#2 balladm

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 04:03 AM

I am starting with my 4 year old now but we will see if he plays...

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#3 BeerPerHole

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 01:37 PM

View Postballadm, on 23 April 2017 - 04:03 AM, said:

I am starting with my 4 year old now but we will see if he plays...
On the spectrum?

I made sure to talk to mine at 4 as though going to the range was as normal as brushing your teeth - everybody does it.

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#4 balladm

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 09:43 PM

Yes, he is high functioning but not too athletic. I'm still trying to get him to hit the ball with the face of the golf club. I've tried left and right handed and he keeps holding the club like an ax.  Then he just gets frustrated if I help so I may give him another year or two.

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#5 BeerPerHole

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 11:39 PM

That grip is surprisingly normal at that age. I showed my boy the grip but it wasn't until maybe 6 months later until he started using it. I think if the club is a little heavy for the kid the axe grip is the default. Be patient...even "hands off".

Edited by BeerPerHole, 03 May 2017 - 11:40 PM.


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#6 WolverineGolfer2016

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:02 PM

While I don't have experience in having a family member with autism, while in college our team would host an annual event with the Els for Autism foundation and ran a program for young children with autism for the morning and always ran smoothly for us and a great event for all.  I would reach out to their foundation and see if they have one of these events near you in the future, the leader of the program who travels nationally was a varsity golfer at Northwestern and was a joy to work with in coordinating and facilitating these events for our varsity team.
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#7 Baitkiller

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:15 PM

I have one on the spectrum, aspie. You are in for some hard work brother. He did the same thing as your child did regarding grip. I got him one of those 5 club starter sets and put a training grip on everything but the putter. Helped him a ton. Instant contact. I cannot recommend this enough for beginning juniors, challenged or otherwise. He still sucks at golf mind you, its just not his thing. He did make varsity wrestling and football as a freshman but grades are a struggle as homework can be an issue. I have to alter every few weeks between carrot and stick. Seems to work. God Bless and good luck.
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PPS. If you have seen a kid on the spectrum then you have seen ONE kid on the spectrum. No rules, just guidelines. Kinda like the pirate code.
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#8 cz13X4

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:24 PM

My daughter is on the spectrum. She is 5 and can crank it but doesn't have a ton of interest like my son does. She is tough but smarter than I will ever be. We will see if she picks it up more later.

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#9 BeerPerHole

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 02:36 PM

My son is an enigma. Was severely autistic, just about catatonic at about a year old. I work in the health industry and we dove straight into all the research and got really pro-active. His recovery was so exceptional that he was filmed for a documentary at 2.5 years old. He and I were on the screen at Cannes Film Festival. He has ended up very athletic. He's that and wirey...good for golf. He's also very fast - genetics combined with being skin and bone. Still struggles socially. But, has ended up a big-hearted, kind boy. His swing is really nice. So, at this point I feel a responsibility to ease him into the game without over-coaching, being a general pain in his arse. So far, so good. Wasn't the crazy football player we all assumed I'd be raising...Such is life. He and I have some great conversations and, for that, I feel blessed.

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#10 SheriffBooth

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 02:58 PM

Member goobers80 is autistic and a very accomplished player.  She used to post a bunch but hasn't been around too much lately.  Here's her WITB:

http://www.golfwrx.c...ideomarch-2017/

You guys could maybe reach out to her to join the discussion here?

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#11 BeerPerHole

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:28 PM

View PostSheriffBooth, on 08 May 2017 - 02:58 PM, said:

Member goobers80 is autistic and a very accomplished player.  She used to post a bunch but hasn't been around too much lately.  Here's her WITB:

http://www.golfwrx.c...ideomarch-2017/

You guys could maybe reach out to her to join the discussion here?

Thanks. I sent her a PM. Interesting young lady.

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#12 Kookaburra1966

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 12:34 PM

My 17yo (will be a senior next school year) is Aspie and loves the game.  Led his JV team this season, despite only joining halfway through as we moved interstate after the start-of-season tryouts.  Even money or better he plays varsity next season but I doubt he'll play college.  He loves the historical side of the game, which shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with the Aspergian habit of deep-diving into one or two favourite areas and being pretty much clueless otherwise.

I've found the game a great way for him to learn the social niceties that kids on the spectrum struggle with - the stuff we NT folks just "know".  I find his biggest struggle on the course isn't the technical stuff, more the emotional and behavioural side, and what better way to learn?  NT people have that emotional shock absorber that folks on the spectrum missed out on, so it goes from sunshine-and-lollipops to lightning-and-thunder pretty quickly.  Stressful situations like tournaments are a meltdown waiting to happen, but when it's just me and him, when the sun's out and the crowds are thin, it's heaven on earth.

I'm trying to get my 12yo (also high-functioning autism) out there, he's joining us on the range now so maybe this summer is the time.  He's more naturally gifted but more volatile - think Tommy Bolt on a really, really bad day.  Maybe it will be just me and him and my eldest can go out on his own.

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#13 BeerPerHole

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 02:18 PM

I'm starting to see some other kids on the spectrum at the golf course. Heck, seeing many more showing up at our neighborhood park. The other day at the range with my son a young man set up next to my boy. He appeared to be about 15. He was about 6'2" and skinny as a rail. He was really dressed to the nines in a blue outfit and wearing a Ben Hogan-style hat. He had a full set of new Pings, complete with Ping bag. I just sat and observed. His dad came out and dropped a jumbo bucket of balls at his feet and said, "Your mom and I are going shopping. We'll be back soon." Poor kid really was struggling with his swing. In the interaction with his dad and in talking to him for a few seconds on our way out I got the impression he's probably an Aspie. My heart really went out to the kid and I know the situation. Parents can really struggle to get their kid functional and when this young man took up an interest they dropped a lot of cash getting him set up with gear. Just my assumption, though. My boy's home course has a program for golfers with special needs. I feel a real need to get involved in that...

My son had his first Jr. PGA competition this past Saturday. That was an interesting development in his life. He started out with a couple mishits and expressed that he wanted to quit. I didn't let him, of course. He ended up making some good shots, sinking a couple clutch puts and then his pairing lost on the last hole. While I may be biased, my observation is that he's got the purest swing out there. I could hear the other dads commenting on it. He just lacks the focus. We will see how he grows in this. He did actually get a black belt in karate last year so I know he can focus. His life, so far, has been one continuous challenge. Golf can surely step that up...

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