Daddy Caddy on the Bag Excerpts
Daddy Caddy on the Bag
The Rules of Golf… For the Caddy
Managing the Mental Game
Starting Your Child in Golf
Developing Your Child’s Game
Making Practice Fun
The Golf Performance Pyramid
The 19th Hole
1. Skills Assessment Worksheets
2. Golf Statistics Scorecard
3. Recommended Reading
Who Are You?
You are a parent with a child who is interested in golf. Or, perhaps you want your child to be interested in golf. Or, you may be well past the introductory stages and your child is already a golfer or even a competitive tournament player. Regardless, your mission is to help your child reach his or her potential in golf. It isn’t an easy task. Golf is perhaps the most difficult and demanding game ever invented, and beginners and experts alike are continually challenged by its mental and physical requirements. Being a parent is demanding itself, and when parenting combines with coaching and caddying for your child – well now you have a real challenge.
These are formative years for your child, when coordination, talent, and interest can be nurtured and developed into a lifelong love of what I firmly believe is the world’s greatest game. Whether or not your child possesses the necessary skills to compete at high levels is largely irrelevant, because the value of golf is much greater than winning tournaments.
Golf teaches respect, integrity, honor, patience, responsibility, perseverance, honesty, humility, and virtually every core value that is important throughout our lives. It can be extremely satisfying and frustrating at the same time. You can provide the opportunity for your child to experience golf, but fair warning: before you know it you may find yourself falling deeper and deeper into the game. Naturally, your child will look to you for swing advice as though you were his PGA/LPGA teaching professional.
In no time at all you will probably be juggling the conflicting roles of being your child’s golf coach, mentor, and caddy… on top of being his or her parent. For young children just learning golf, this is a normal situation that I see all of the time, and it can be a great experience. It can also be extremely frustrating for all involved, and if not handled properly by you, it can leave a lasting negative impression on your child that can drive him or her away from the game.
So this book is addressed to you, the parent who wants to navigate the fairways of golf with your young child. By “young,” I mean from age 2-12, give or take a year. Once your child reaches around age 11-12, he or she will be less reliant on you as a coach and caddy. And, by then his or her interest in playing competitive golf can skyrocket, and serious performance training can occur. If it doesn’t… no problem. He or she will still have a foundation in golf that will serve them later in their business or professional careers.
But, how do you bring your child to that stage? How do you start your toddler in golf? How do you coach and develop and bring out his or her best performance on the golf course? How do you remain friends with your child in spite of golf?
“Wear one hat at a time.”
Daddy Caddy on the Bag
It was a typical summer weekend afternoon in South Florida. Ominous storm clouds on the horizon threatened our planned practice round in spite of what the handheld weather app said. I pulled up to the bag drop and the attendant got to the trunk before me, loading my bag on the golf cart. “Not that one,” I said. “Take this one,” and I handed Alex’s bag to the attendant. “I’m not playing today. Just caddying.” I tossed my clubs back into the car to stares as Alex, all of four feet tall came over for help tying his shoes.
“He’s playing?” the other attendant asked incredulously. I’m sure they did not understand how a five year old boy who couldn’t tie his shoes could play golf. “Oh, he can play,” I assured them, and we headed for the golf shop.
And so go our lives as daddy caddies, coaches, trainers, mentors, and teachers to our golfing sons and daughters. We sacrifice our own golf games and play vicariously through the clubs of our children. We try to teach them the game that we love but which we ourselves don’t truly understand. We try to help our children manage their emotions when the golf gods get them the way they get us, even though we struggle to manage our own emotions. And we try to guide them in making wise stroke-saving decisions, when we ourselves would take the riskier shot.
Like you, I seek my way in the dark, hoping to give my child the best chance to grow into a golfer for life. Like you, I wonder whether he will be a serious player, earn a college scholarship, and perhaps become a tour pro someday. Perhaps unlike you, I know how difficult that road is, how unlikely it is that he will make it that far, and how little it matters right now. Although he says he wants to be a pro, that isn’t something that I can imagine at this time. Frankly, I’m not even sure I would want him to lead that life.
But for now, we are daddy caddies on the bag, taking on the difficult challenge of wearing multiple hats and dealing with many of the same issues faced by all sports parents.
We see it all of the time on baseball and soccer fields. Parents shouting directions from the sidelines, admonishing their own kids for making mistakes while simultaneously consoling other parents whose kids do the same.
Golf parenting is much more difficult because there is no fence separating us from our child. We are there next to him, in the thick of things, succeeding and failing together, congratulating and blaming each other, and trying to sort out the differing roles we are playing. But how did we get to this point?
Most of us began innocently enough by bringing our kid(s) to the golf driving range and helping them attack a pile of range balls. We showed them how to hold the club, how to stand, and they watched us swing. Once he or she got the hang of things the plot thickened. How can we best help our child enjoy golf, succeed in hitting the ball, and grow into a golfer? For reasons of convenience, money, and the pure joy of experiencing the process with them, we frequently ease into the roles of being their golf coach, teacher, trainer, and mentor. And when they are ready to play on the course, we become their caddy. It is a slippery slope!
A tour professional may have several different people playing these roles, each specialists in their own field and working together for a common cause. Under the best of circumstances, these specialists focus on only their own areas of specialization and don’t cross boundaries. For example, Ricky Fowler’s caddy is not also his swing coach, and his swing coach is not his personal trainer. Our children have only us, and we know no boundaries! We caddy, coach, teach, train, and parent all at the same time, with predictable results.
If we are to succeed in coaching our children to peak golf performance, we need to specialize (or hire specialists) and stay within the boundaries of the role we are playing, when we are playing it. In other words, we need to wear one hat at a time.
For most of us, the thought of hiring specialists is akin to admitting failure. We can and want to do it ourselves, but we need some guidance. Moreover, nothing can equal the satisfaction we get as we bond with our son or daughter through golf. It isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
So, let’s get down to business and clarify the roles and responsibilities of all of the people involved in our child’s golf journey. I have chosen to begin with the end, so to speak, meaning we will begin with your job as caddy.