How Golf Helps Children – Donna Serino

Donna SerinoAs teachers and coaches, what is our goal with junior golf? Is it to train a future Tiger Woods? Is it to get them to make some kind of contact with the ball? Or is it to be a cheerleader?

I’m going to tell you a story about a boy and his mother.

I teach a lot of juniors and coach a girls golf team. A mother (let’s call her Mary) reached out to me. She was looking for her son, Todd, to belong somewhere in the golf community. The boy was very attached to his mother, and she wanted him to play golf with other kids and become more independent. As I listened to Mary, I could see how much she loved her son and also see the pain in her eyes that Todd didn’t quite fit in.

I always invite the parent to watch the first lesson so they can see how I teach and interact with their child. Todd is tall, slim, and very shy. As I watched him swing the golf club, I thought he had potential to develop a nice game that he could enjoy playing for the rest of his life. He was a great student, asked good questions and never complained. We hit it off and he joined our Country Club. He came twice a week with his mother for a lesson, and Mary was hoping for a breakthrough. After a few days, I approached all the juniors and said, “we have a new member and he is incredibly shy. You are leaders. As leaders, you need to embrace him. Invite him to hit balls on the range with you. They all said, “Of course,” but were they just yessing me or going to accept him?

I sent Karen, who is 13, a text: “Todd will be at the course today. Please ask him to play a few holes.” When Karen arrived, she walked over to Todd as I watched from afar. They were laughing! Good sign! Before I knew it, Karen was playing golf and Todd was sitting on the bench. I walked over to him and asked, “Why aren’t you playing?”

He said, “I panicked. But, I got her number!”

Ok. That’s a start…

Mark, another junior, also approached him and they bonded immediately. I saw a big change in Todd. He started coming to the course every day and didn’t need his mother to be there. He thought Mark was the coolest kid ever and couldn’t wait to hit balls with him.

I approached Mark and said, “Do you realize the impact you just made on that kid’s life?”

His response was: “I actually like him a lot. He’s really fun to hang out with.”

Mary sent me a text which simply said, “God Bless You”.

So what is our role? Yes, of course, teach them good fundamentals, be a cheerleader but let’s not forget about the human side. By two juniors stepping up, it changed this kid’s life. He has come out of his shell, has confidence, and who knows what he can conquer now.

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