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Tantrums


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#1 MikekiM

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 05:38 PM

My 8yo is a very talented golfer having won numerous local tournaments, and placed very well in regional, state, and JR world tournaments.  He has however an enormous competitive energy that lately has been hurting him at golf, and wanted to see if others have come across this or have some suggestions with how to deal with this.  He is competitive by nature in everything, from running, basketball, board games, even the first one up the stairs at night.

So naturally with golf he wants to do well, hit great shots, and ultimately win. He's taken not winning without any issues.  He's keenly aware that he's not going to win all the time in tournament play, or even with friends.  However lately he's begun throwing tantrums with poor shots that's lingering longer than just to the next shot.  He'll smash clubs into the ground, kick and stomp his feet, and have a terrible negative demeanor about him for the next few shots.  His emotions improve only after he hits a great shot.

On more than one occasion we've called it quits in the middle of a practice round because of the attitude.  He doesn't seem to have the same reaction at the driving range, or practice greens, only during a round.  And it doesn't even matter if we're keeping score or not, because he's always mentally keeping his own score, and everyone playing with him.  

Does anyone have any advice or suggestions on ways to temper this behavior?  We've tried playing with mulligans, tried playing without keeping score, even fun games like scramble, alternating shots, and carrying only 3 clubs.  We've read a few different books on controlling anger issues, and controlling tempers but haven't had any luck with anything carrying to the golf course specifically.

Looking for any advice or suggestions, thanks!

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#2 Thrillhouse

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 05:43 PM

I can't really help you but 16 year old thrillhouse wasn't great either. I wasn't a total nightmare, there were definitely kids worse than me, but I threw a few clubs and smashed a few tee markers and used to enjoy beating the hell out of my golf bag after bad shots (for a while there I used to order replacement legs for my ping stand bag and have them around the house for when I'd inevitably smash one).

I know it's different because your kid is younger but I did eventually grow out of behaving like an idiot.

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#3 Baitkiller

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 05:54 PM

Do you throw tantrums when playing? Honest question.  
I'm a bit of a Richard-head Dad in that I take zero crap. Tantrums make me insanely angry. One club smash? its over, go home. You disrespect the course and game? Its over, go home. You get your sticks back when I get an apology I feel is somewhat legit. My daughter never did it at golf but would dress down other players on her soccer teams. OK, shes pretty damn good and the top player in her league but she rode the bench more than once for outbursts (when I was coaching). My middle boy is the golf tantrum one. He would get mad and slam clubs. I yoked his butt up at a school match 3 holes in during his first year. Get in the cart, your done. Pretty sure that was the last time it ever happened. He was very embarrassed in front of the other boys. he is now, three years later,  a pleasure to play with, a perfect gentleman with whom my adult friends enjoy playing with. 14 years old.
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#4 Sean2

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 06:59 PM

I think it was Arnold Palmer who was having a bit of a tiff on the course as a lad. His father immediately took him off the course and said if he did it again, the same thing would happen. Though I think AP was older than 8.

Golf requires a lot of patience. Most 8 years olds are not known for their patience. Heck, most adults aren't known for their patience.

My best friend's daughter is 19 and plays on the LPGA Tour. 11 years ago we would be playing and she was more interested in frogs, turtles, and other non-human life forms then where her golf shot went. :-)
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#5 leezer99

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 08:37 PM

I tell the guys in my group they're not good enough to get mad.  The only thing about hitting a bad shot is the opportunity to hit a great shot so what's the big deal?


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#6 heavy_hitter

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:17 PM

It is maturity.  I went through it and it is really tough.  Best advice I can give you is to not play for a score.  If he hits a bad shot make him hit another from the same place.  Then another and another until he hits it right.  Pick up the good balls then go to where the bad ball was.  Whether behind a tree, in deep rough, off pine straw, or in a bunker let him hit shots from that spot until he hits a couple of good ones.  Then pick up the balls and go to the next hole.  There are ways to play without keeping score.  

Trust me....  I have taken my son home after one hole.  It is very stressful.  

The funny thing is that my son only does it when I am around.  Part of it is that he doesn't want to let you down.  I told my son a million times I don't care how he plays as long as he is a gentleman on the course.  Golf is just a game.  Still, it comes down to maturity at that age.

You can pm with questions any time.

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#7 tiger1873

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 11:15 PM

Heavy is correct it is a maturity thing when it coms to tantrums.  I wouldn't worry about it much on a 8 year old as it norm.   There are two things that will drive you nuts when you have kids that golf and you caddie.

The first one is attitude and tantrums. Kids simply can not control their emotions sometimes you just have to let it play out other times you need to make them snap out of it.  

The other thing is when they just simply lose focus and give up. It hard to watch you kid par the 4 or 5 holes and just lose it and then triple bogey the next 3  and lose the tournament because of it.

Look for teaching moments sometimes going on youtube or just watching the golf channel helps. For my daughter we had a huge breakthrough when she seen the penalty this year against Lexi Thompson. She thought it was over but it was a huge surprise to see her fight back to playoffs. It turned out that was a very big deal and teaching moment and how the caddie handled it was one for me.  The way she tried to come back after a truly wrong call is one the best moments in sports I have ever seen.

Edited by tiger1873, 15 August 2017 - 11:17 PM.


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#8 Hateto3Putt

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 06:23 AM

View PostBaitkiller, on 15 August 2017 - 05:54 PM, said:


One club smash? its over, go home. You disrespect the course and game? Its over, go home. You get your sticks back when I get an apology
Take no crap.

This.

Draw the line and do not deviate.

Next time he throws or slams a club, remove that club from his arsenal and donate it to the first tee. When he's old enough he can buy the replacement.

Don't raise a *****.

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#9 ABARTSCHMID

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 08:52 AM

Like the others have said it is not OK to condone their behavior, but different approaches work for different kids. Especially if the kid if trying to impress his father and doesn't want to let him down. I have 2 boys, one who would get jerked off the course for a tantrum and another one who I would not. Knowing there personalities is important in deciding how to react. My child who I would not take off the course is very sweet and emotional child. Putting an arm around him and calmly talking to him on the way to the next shot would do more for him than pulling him off the course. Sometimes a child just needs positive re-enforcement and to know that you love them and it doesn't matter if they hit a bad shot. At the same time the child would very calmly and firmly be made aware that a tantrum is not only not acceptable but will also just make it harder to hit a good shot. I have found that my 2 boys have completely different personalities and I must parent them both differently. I do not let one get away with more than the other but how I respond to each one differs according to their personality and what approach is most effective for each. It is easy to say yank them off the course, but know your child and find what approach works best for them. Not every kid needs tough love to learn a lesson. Some just need love and an explanation of why what they did was wrong to learn the same lesson.
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#10 MikekiM

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 11:25 AM

Thanks for the input so far. I definitely have not condoned the behavior at all, as we've walked off the course mid-round several times due to the behavior.  I certainly don't throw tantrums on the course or set any kind of example like that.  
What I've noticed is that the behavior is worse when playing with me, or when my wife watches.  When he plays with friends the behavior is noticeably better, and the outbursts are shorter in length.
I'm not asking him to be a saint by any means. I know frustration is part of the game, and an occasional outburst is healthy sometimes. But this is more the constant dwelling on shots 4-5 shots ago.

We've used it as a teaching moments before, which is actually part of the problem.  Last USK regional he missed a T3rd place finish by 1 stroke because of a silly three putt on the last hole.  So he knows the importance of each and every single shot.  I think this is part of the competitiveness that's hurting him.  He sees the bad shot and instantly thinks it's game over, and doesn't see the opportunity to make birdies, or the possibility that others are playing worse.

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#11 Noles

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:35 AM

My son does not have tantrums out there but boy does he beat himself up.  Every shot that is not perfect he has some negative reaction.  He swears that it does not effect his play but I believe otherwise.  It has to wear him down mentally and physically to an extent.  He is 13 and as much as I try to talk to him about it, I honestly think that he just needs to outgrow it.  It's definitely frustrating to watch.  Even when he plays with his friends, when I pick him up he immediately starts telling me about all of his bad shots.  I just don't get that mentality.  I was just beginning the game at that age.  Maybe I would have been the same way had I been as good as he is.

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#12 kekoa

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 12:38 PM

Hopefully the tantrum thing just goes away with time and maturity.  If not, something else may need to be done like making the kid take a break from golf.  I'm contemplating the same thing not for tantrums, but more from having meltdowns after a bad shot.  My son starts tearing up after a bad hole.  That type of behavior is not conducive to golf and definitely isn't good for a child.

He never does this in practice rounds or fun rounds with his buddies.  It only happens in tournaments and really really hurt his play.  Golf is hard enough.

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#13 Belmont148

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 02:26 PM

I think we all are facing this with young ones. However, I here it much less with the girls. Boys just can't seem to deal with it as easy, or they feel more pressure to impress dad, mom, and others.

I am facing something similar, but not tantrums. My boy has just started stroke play tourneys, and he seems to have a meltdown hole each round. I mean, post a score that he never has before since starting golf kind of meltdown. I can't figure it out, but there is always one and it is really keeping him from competing with the others. I keep thinking it will get better the more he plays, but not sure if there are any drills I can do to help because a practice round just doesn't hold the same weight as in an event. It's like once that bad shot happens, the wheels come off for the next few shots. I've tried telling him that the current hole score doesn't matter, just to finish the best he can and maybe he will get a save around the green or something. But I believe he is still worked up from the previous shot too much to really take it in.

They all have it, as I watched a kid that has a lot more experience than mine meltdown after one shot and post a snowman even though he had been playing at par. I am hoping that if he keeps playing in events and sees other make mistakes he won't have his own meltdown and understand that it happens from time to time.
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#14 Belmont148

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 02:35 PM

Do you all think playing a few rounds of worst ball would help deal with the pressure?
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#15 Tro

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:12 PM

View PostMikekiM, on 16 August 2017 - 11:25 AM, said:

What I've noticed is that the behavior is worse when playing with me, or when my wife watches.  When he plays with friends the behavior is noticeably better, and the outbursts are shorter in length.

I've seen this in my kid as well.  His actions are telling you that "I'm really a much better at golf than what you are witnessing right now!!"  So in a way, he is performing for you.  What you need to do is somehow communicate that this is unacceptable and that you KNOW he is a good golfer.  You need to let him know that this behavior is making him look weak minded, disrespectful, and childish (even though he is a child - kids hate to look childish).  Try and teach him more productive way to deal with bad shots or rounds.

Edited by Tro, 13 September 2017 - 03:12 PM.


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#16 killer21

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 08:20 AM

This is an issue with girls as well. I have seen our best player constantly yelling at her dad if she doesn't birdie every hole.  We have to stress to my 8 year old daughter that attitude on the course is everything.  Mine generally behaves worse when her Mom is not around.  We attended an LPGA event and I stressed to her to watch the girls attitudes, they rarely get upset when you see them live.  Very even keel.  We actually stumbled on Lydia Ko who hit a drive near us outside the ropes on a par five, bad lie.  She came over eating a snack, very carefree, extremely polite to the people around she had to move and smiling the whole time - she just put here snack down assessed the situation and ran a five wood up to the green out of the rough and grabbed her snack, thanked everyone and smiled and walked away -said her pleases and thank yous to everyone around here... this is actually the norm in pro golf.  I always say to have an attitude like the LPGA girls do and the PGA when we attend events.   It generally works.
Though on the flip side, this past weekend, she was getting attitude and I threatened to leave in the middle of a U.S. Kids tourney and she smartened up.
Her Mom and I are always stressing to have a good attitude on the course more than her play.
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#17 2ball

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:46 PM

Put your foot in his a**.

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#18 henkedejk

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 11:28 PM

View PostBelmont148, on 13 September 2017 - 02:35 PM, said:

Do you all think playing a few rounds of worst ball would help deal with the pressure?

Purely instinctively I would think not help.

My kids luckily does not throw tantrums, bur as another poster noted, they do get much harder om themselves if playing with me (not so much when playing their mum I noticed). I do agree with the previous poster that this is because no matter how much one tells them that one acknowleges effort and not results they still want to impress their father. Perhaps also because the kids may know/feel that deep down parents will have a better day - honestly I know I have - of supporting the kids if the results are on top.

In Northern Europe parents / caddies are usually not allowed for juniors old enough to keep score and keep up the pace (8-9-10 ish), instead older players are requested to take care of any newcomers and flights deliberately put together to that will work. I am sure that solves a lot of kid tantrum issues. For older kids (16 ish plus) that play 36-hole a day tournaments parents many times change it up and caddie for another junior fron the club. Caddies can be good to have though, all tournaments are obvoiusly walking only and weather tends to get ugly in sping and autumn (and often in the summer :-) ) in Northern Europe especially.

Parents that want to follow their kids can follow only by walking at a spectator distance and cannot advice of course. I try not to follow at all, even though I am of course curious, and have explained to them both why so they dont think im just not interested or supportive. I can almost physically see my kids swing and posture tighten up from 100 meters away if they see me, see them looking in my direction and focusing on that instead of their golf and having fun. Its very clear with other players too, even the ones I dont know.

Edited by henkedejk, 15 September 2017 - 11:31 PM.


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#19 thug the bunny

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 11:56 PM

My stepdaughter started out the gates as a good ball striker, esp driver. However, we all know good ball striking is an elusive target, and is not the only factor in playing well. After a few years she was a good player at the age of 13, but if she got say 2 doubles back to back, she wouldn't throw clubs or anything like that (I would have taken her straight home), but she just gave up. Same thing. I used to tell her over and over that what separates great athletes from good athletes is that the great ones don't don't think about what they just did. They think about what they have to do. All young golfers have a strong 'I wish I could have hit that well' impulse, but after maturing they will learn that what they wish doesn't matter worth sh!t. And they have to then move on with the game.

IMO really what it comes down to is time. 8 yrs old is pretty young. I know plenty of 50+ golfers who act the same as an 8 yr old. I would say just give your boy the same guidance - don't worry about that last shot, let's focus on the next one - after he matures a bit you watch, it will suddenly click.
So there is really only here and now

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