Thanks to some unseasonably warm weather (71* in Cincy in mid-February; seriously!?) I got to do what I’ve been dreaming to do for a while: take both my daughters on the course with me.
I must admit I was a bit nervous doing this. My girls are 4 and 2, so they obviously wouldn’t be playing; or, at least be doing anything other than putting. Secondly, although it was warm, the ground was still very wet; so, cart-path only it was.
How did the experiment go? Actually, a lot better than I expected.
That being said, here’s my advice for others in a similar situation:
Play late in the afternoon
After a full day of parks, swings, slides and family visits (no naps!), I figured I would have a pretty open course. I guessed correctly. The next closest group was two holes ahead of me and another was more than a hole behind. Good enough buffer.
Stock up on treats… er, food
You’re going to burn off calories when you play. However, your forecaddies are going to need some nutrients as well. Having a homemade, chocolate chip brownie ready was a key component to success. Later appetizers of peanut butter crackers and Powerade were essential to keep things going.
Take a cart
My kids would have been happy enough to ride on the golf cart without doing anything else. To them, it feels like they’re going really fast, even if you’re not really. They’ll enjoy feeling the wind in their face. You shouldn’t expect your pre-school kids to walk 2-3 miles; especially if your course isn’t dead flat (mine is most certainly not).
You won’t be 100% focused
If you’re kids are older, this may not be an issue. If they’re as young as mine, you’re going to lose focus. While you ask them to sit in the cart, it doesn’t mean they’re going to oblige. You do need to keep your parent eye open and ensure their safety. Because of that, your head’s not going to be completely in the game. This will likely lead to some undesirable shots, in which case I say…
Don’t keep score
Seriously. For me, it was more about sharing the game I love with my girls than it was trying to shoot a personal best. They’re not old enough to know what a good shot and a bad shot looks like. They also don’t care. While they will applaud you if YOU say that shot was good, they’re more happy about spending time with dad and riding in the cart.
Also, if you’re by yourself, you can’t post the score anyways <sarcasm>Thanks a lot, USGA</sarcasm>. Keep your posting and serious rounds between your buddies.
Etiquette will be broken
On driving and approach shots, the chatter young children will ultimately engage in is easier to ignore. Wedge shots and putts are a different story. They’re going to move around and make noise. Gently ask them to keep the noise down, but use it as an experience to fine tune your focus in the short game. If that doesn’t work and you flub one, just hit another. Again, it doesn’t really count anyways, amIrite USGA?
Okay, shame me for playing a another ball, and not teaching my daughters there are no such things as mulligans. I’ll worry about that when they’re older, and are out driving me and shooting lower scores than me.
When we got to the green, I wanted my girls with me. They don’t know you’re not supposed to walk in someone’s line. They don’t know you don’t pick up the ball without marking it. They don’t know you don’t pick your ball up if it doesn’t go in the hole. Go with the flow, but use it as a teaching experience for them.
If you have more than one, share responsibilities.
It was essential that both kids got to pick balls out of the hole for me. I mandated that they had to wait until the ball went in the hole until they got it. Eventually they understood, and even the two-year-old figured out that she wasn’t allowed to touch my ball unless it was in the hole.
Ultimately, just enjoy the time with your children and playing a sport you love. The kids grow up too fast as it is.