My oldest son is a golfer. A pretty talented golfer. He didn’t start out that way. Starting when he was in 4th grade, I would take us to the driving range as a way to spend time together without spending much money. It soon evolved into me purchasing Happenings Books for the Buy 1 Get 1 coupons for many of the local executive courses. It was a great mother/son date! Then he got better. I didn’t. We seldom play golf together anymore, but I am so happy to have introduced the game to him! Here’s why:
1. Dress Code: Regardless of how he chooses to dress when off the course, he always wears shorts or pants that actually fit him in the waist on the course. Plus a belt. Plus a tucked in shirt. He actually looks like a respectable young man! And I think it helps him with his wardrobe choices outside of the golf course since he is so used to wearing clothing as it is meant to be worn.
2. Emotional Control: On the golf course, it is not appropriate to lose control of your emotions. No matter how frustrated you become, you don’t yell, swear or throw things. You may mutter to yourself some, but it is expected that you control yourself. He also plays Hockey — that sport encourages you to express your emotions in a physical manner. Maybe boys need both. But I think it’s natural for them to be physical, so using a sport to help them learn other ways to manage their emotions is wonderful.
3. Proper Introductions: When playing in a golf tournament, the boys introduce themselves to each other at the beginning of the match. They shake hands with each other. Other sports do handshakes or fist bumps, but it’s very fast and in a line with no real communication happening. These proper introductions become more natural so that they happen off the course as well.
4. Called Gentlemen: In tournament play, the boys are referred to as gentlemen (as in “Good Luck Gentlemen!” after the rules are reviewed and are given the OK to tee off). I think that people have a tendency to internalize the names they are called and subconsciously act out accordingly. Being called a gentleman implies certain behavior and maturity. From what I’ve seen, the boys on the course rise to the occasion.
5. Meet people of all ages: During High School tournaments, my son plays only with other High School kids. But he loves the game. So he goes to the course alone. Sometimes they will place him with another group so he gets to talk with 1-3 other golfers and often times learns a great deal about golf and life from them. Other times, he starts out alone but almost always gets asked to join a group he catches up to. He learns to graciously accept their offer to join them and again talks with them the rest of the course. He’s not an extrovert in any interpretation of the word. Without golf, his circle of people he knows in the world would be very small. Instead, he has a large group of golfer friends of all ages that he randomly meets up with all summer long.
What do you think? Are there other life lessons to be learned on the course that nearly all teenage boys would benefit from? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!