Most kids are not interested in golf if it’s not introduced to them first. Kids just don’t generally gravitate toward the Golf Channel. They don’t turn on ESPN to see what Retief Goosen is up to at the Sony Open. They’re interested in the more popular spectator sports like football, basketball and baseball. And I for one don’t blame them. Face it golfers…watching your sport is relatively dull. As challenging as it is, and as much skill is required…watching someone drop a 50-foot birdie putt does not compare to a diving catch in the end zone, a thunderous dunk or an outfielder pulling a homerun ball back into the yard for an out. You can see what I mean.
But what golf can offer is a level of competition that can certainly be equivalent to that of any other sport. But it’s not just the competition, it’s the competition combined with safety and sportsmanship. And those are some qualities that should make parents happy as well.
When it comes to competition, golfers are a different bunch…and I don’t mean the pros. When you compare your average weekend golfer with that of any other weekend sports enthusiast such as the flag football player, beer-league softball guy and rec league basketball player (and let’s face it golfing friends, they are their sports equivalent to what you do on the links), it’s only the golfers who question the skill level of each other. Some of these golfers wear their handicaps like a badge of honor…like it makes them superior to another golfer. See, someone like me, I can’t even tell you what my handicap is because…quite honestly…I don’t care. But in the other sports previously mentioned, you don’t see this. When was the last time you heard two beer-league softball players comparing batting averages? Have you ever heard two rec league basketball players bragging about their average points per game? No, of course not. They would just sound silly. But golfers? It’s a new level of personal competition. And sometimes, I don’t think they even realize they’re doing it.
Something all parents are concerned about when it comes to their children’s participation in sports is safety. It’s the NFL that really brings this to light, mainly with the concussion problems. Football is a violent contact sport played by big, strong, fast men. There are going to be injuries. There are going to be broken bones, concussions, tears, strains and the like. Some will be short-term, some may be life-altering. And further, during last weekends 49ers-Packers game which was played in wind chills of -20 degrees, is the fact that football players play through any weather condition other than lightning. One can understand why a parent would not want their child to participate. So what sport, requiring you to get out of a chair, is more safe than golf? There is no physical contact outside of a handshake or pat on the back. And the sport is normally only played in optimal conditions. What’s the risk? You didn’t hear someone yell “Fore?” OK, so it can hurt if you get hit by a ball…but it’s rarely been known to cause any serious injury.
Last but not least is the sportsmanship facet of the game. I don’t know about anyone else, but the trash-talk and self-promotion in some sports has just gone too far now. I love football…far and away my favorite sport…but I can’t stand watching a wide receiver get up and celebrate every catch like they just won the state lottery. Or every time a basketball player throws down a dunk, they have to let out a scream, pound their chest and stare down the crowd. Congratulations! You did your job! I’m not a trash-talker…never have been and really don’t like them. It’s really beginning to lose its place in sports now. Golf? It doesn’t occur unless it’s at a personal level. But doing it just for trash talk’s sake? Enough already.
Golf may be a relatively dull sport to watch on television. But when introduced and taught properly, it’s a great sport to have your kids pursue. The combination of competitiveness, safety and sportsmanship can teach life-lessons, as well as provide years of entertainment and recreation for anyone who sticks with it. If it goes further than just the level of a weekend hack, great! But if not, at the very lest it was a useful tool.
Swing ’til you’re happy!