I am pretty sure that all fathers want to give their kids a life that they didn’t have as a child. In my case I am so fortunate to have two wonderful kids, Brittanie (13) and Nicklaus (11). At one time they both played golf but in the last couple of years, Nicklaus Palmer has really gotten the bug for this great sport. As a teaching professional are kids are often looked at as that they are supposed to be golfers and they are supposed to be good at it just because their dad could play or teach. This isn’t always the case as we know and as we slip the parent hat on and take the coach hat off at times we have to make a decision, how much should we push our kids into golf? In this unusual place we run the risk of having the child hate the game forever and often times maybe resent what dad does for a living as we are often away from the house more than normal dads are. In my case with Nick and Britt, I never pushed golf on them. I made a conscious effort to give them the opportunity but to never make it mandatory for them to learn. They both gravitated out of curiosity to the pee-wee clinics and junior clinics at the Dana Rader Golf School which at least game them a glimpse of what it was all about. They both started about 3-4 years old. As Brittanie got older and decided to not play golf any longer and Nick took a liking to football I didn’t think either one of them would grow to love golf as I did as a kid which was fine with me as long as they were happy and active I didn’t care.
THE TURNING POINT FOR NICK
Being in the same town as a PGA tour event is very cool and I would always take the family out the Wells Fargo Championship for the day to see the best in the world play. The kids enjoyed it and it soon lit a fire under Nicklaus as he would start to beg me to bring him to work so he could practice and play like (Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson). These guys really do have an influence on young people and I feel great that Nick has some outstanding role models including the members at Carmel Country Club that are so nice as he comes out to practice and play every chance he gets. We just finished up his spring break and he didn’t miss a day of practice at the club. The cool thing is I don’t have to ask him to practice, he just loves it. It has been so neat to see how much he has improved in the last year and a half as he plays his junior tournaments and drags me out onto the golf course whenever I can to give me a run. His first official US Kids tournament about 2 years ago he shot 116. Yesterday after attending the Masters Monday, he shot 35 for 9 holes from the white tees. Hard work paying off for sure as I have never seen a kid practice harder and try to gather information more for an 11-year-old. I keep giving him info and I can’t fill him up which is fun. So back to giving him more than I had……………………….I never had a country club to practice as the only country club that I had been the one I was working at and that has not changed and I never got to go to the Masters until I moved to the Carolinas in 1997 and I havent missed a year. So here is my latest Masters memory through the eyes of an 11-year-old for those who havent heard it yet (if you don’t follow me on twitter)
MY MONDAY AT AUGUSTA
It was a typical day that started at 4 a.m. as we traveled to Augusta. We were the first ones through the gate as we made our way to the perfect practice area and range to watch Nicks favorite player, Webb Simpson, warm up and head to the first tee. We walked around with Webb for his 9 holes and then proceeded to have a few pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches along the way as we watched the other players on the course practice and play. Nick was extra interested in the young 14-year-old from China as he was only 2 years older than him as he dreamed of playing Augusta at that age. The kid handled himself with maturity beyond his years. As the day started to wind down, we heard that Tiger was on the practice range so we headed that way. We watched Tiger hit some bunker shots and some putts as he headed out to play a late nine. Thinking our only chance of getting to see him for the last time we must go several holes out so we camped out behind #16 tee with some friends that I ran into. The crowd was getting enormous as they had the same idea of seeing number 1 in the world hit a couple of shots into the green. In the meantime, Peter Hanson from Sweden came up by himself to the tee. I struck up a conversation about the yardage and how I thought my son could hit that green if he had the chance. He couldn’t have been a nicer guy and not thinking it would ever happen, after he hit his shot to the green, he asked me what club would the boy need to hit a shot. Yes, he called Nick out onto the tee to hit a tee shot on #16 at Augusta. As he walked out I couldn’t help think of how nervous I would have been and how incredibly calm he seemed to be as he handed him his 6 iron and went through his pre shot routine like we have worked on a thousand times. Hit the pretty good shot under the circumstances with a crowd cheering like crazy. I couldn’t have been prouder and I can’t thank Mr. Hanson enough for creating such a lasting memory for a young passionate golfer. He obviously gets it! He also is now one of mine and Nicks favorite players for sure. As this was all going on, I completely choked with the video camera and only managed a picture. Luckily a great guy sitting beside me videoed the whole thing and put it on you tube. Enjoy the video and thank you for letting me rant as a proud father of both my kids. I love them so much. The only way it could have been better is if my wife, father and mother in law and my parents could have been there to witness it. Creating memories for sure!
My picks for this years Masters:
1. Justin Rose
2. Webb Simpson
3. Peter Hanson
4. Rory Mcilroy
5. Bo Van Pelt
Have a great week and enjoy the Masters