Golf should never define who your child is as a person


The advice I give to young players and their parents is often about the mental and emotional aspects of the game.

When you consider that golf is one of the most difficult sports, it is actually quite astonishing that so many people fall in love with it. One of the things that makes the game so difficult is the mental difficulty it becomes for many, and especially for those who show promise as they progress.

Slaps, curses and fits of rage shouting things like “I’m done!” I will never play this stupid game again! ‘ all of them have a funny way of keeping those same people from continuing to play the sport they “love”.

There is a very fine line when it comes to this topic and young golfers… is it just a feeling of “passion” for the game, or is it for some, creeping into more dangerous territory? Something that can potentially turn into an unhealthy obsession with finding the unattainable “perfection” that so many seek?

I’m sure this is happening in other concentrations for young people… music, art, other sports, or even the quest for a 4.0 GPA. In all circumstances, a pre-teen or teenager should fully understand that golf, or whatever passion he has chosen, don’t define them as a person … and never should.

As parents, when people say nice things about our children, it’s kind of a validation for us of how we raised them. But at the end of the day, isn’t it much more rewarding to hear things about our children’s character, how they behave, how they treat other people, than to hear “Boy, they’ve got a amazing golf ”?

Sure, that’s nice to hear too, but like I said, their chosen passion shouldn’t be the thing that defines who they are as a person.

When we have the opportunity to raise a child in such an amazing game as golf, it is a very special thing. For those who really and deeply love the game, you get what I mean when I say this. Everything a child can learn about life through play, regardless of their level of play, is to their advantage as they grow older. However, it is important to watch out for instances where the difficulty of the game may have the opposite effect on them… where they are not learning and where they struggle with the emotional aspects that arise. Children often don’t really know how to cope with these situations and while it is good for them to learn, you as a parent may need to step in and help.

Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to have a great conversation with Mr. John O’Sullivan. John is a world-renowned speaker in the field of parenting young athletes. He is the founder of the Change the game project and host of the The Path of Champions podcast. His TED Conference 2014 has had almost half a million views. I’m going to leave you with one of the things John said that struck me the most as a PGA coach and also as the father of my son and daughter …

“Our children should never think that our love for them depends on the outcome of a competition. If we are upset, sad, or angry when they lose, our children see it and perform less well. Whether they win or lose, whether they play well or poorly, after the competition tell them “I love watching you play”. That’s it. These simple words help eliminate the fear of failure and the expectation of success, which is a cripple for many young athletes.


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