Archive for the ‘Parenting Athletes’ Category

Junior Golf: A Tougher Answer

In this Friday Flop Shot we are going to discuss the tougher answer, the answer at the other end of the spectrum from our previous post. A response that will certainly surprise, if not stun and shock, because no parent seriously considers this as the answer they will get from their son when they ask, “Why do you play golf?” (photo offcoursegolf.com)image

“I play because you/Dad/Mom want me to.” After you swallow hard and catch your breath, what do you say to this? There are at least 100 parental responses and you can get great information from psychologists, sports psychologists and a myriad of books on this and related subjects. Linda and I are passing along our experiences with S3 and some of his golf teammates during his junior golf and college golf careers.

Dad and Mom, what is really important here? You and your son must be clear as to why he plays junior golf. If he has a passion for the game and is serious about pursuing it, his and your path takes a specific course. If he is a casual player and likes playing with family and friends now and then, his and your path is totally different from the path of the passionate pursuer of junior golf.IMG_0052

Age plays a role here too, as very young, say under 10 year-old players, may not really know why they play the game except that it’s fun. They may develop a serious passion for the game at some point. If however, your son is in junior high or high school and is a casual player, he may likely remain a casual player.

Parents, your role for the passionate junior golfer has major responsibilities which include commitments of time and money. Your role with the casual junior golfer is less structured and mostly catch-as-catch-can going to the range or playing a round or 2.

The key today Mom and Dad is ask the question! Until you know why your son plays golf you don’t know how to support him.

See you on #1 tee…looking like you’re enjoying yourself… Sam

Junior Golf: Shop The Last Minute Sales

In this Wednesday Waggle we will look at a way to buy some of those more expensive golf items. You know, the ones that can bust the regular budget. This time of year offers an excellent opportunity to buy these things at a very affordable price.image

Golf is a sport that offers Dad and Mom a lot of ways to spend money, in some cases a lot of money. So learning how to keep your son up-to-date, or close to it with golf clothing and equipment can be a financial challenge. Well, Holiday help is here! (photo golfdigest.com)

If your schedule allows and your mind can tolerate the insanity of shopping on Christmas Eve afternoon and early evening, there are some great bargains to be had. And you have time to wrap the gifts and have them under the tree for Christmas morning.

Another creative way we stretch our Christmas budget is to ask family members agree to the buying of gifts after Christmas during what used to be called the 13th Month sales, the time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Yes, many desirable items will be gone or picked over, but I assure you there a ton of things to spend your money on. It is certainly possible to get 2 or 3 items for the original retail price of just 1 item. Maybe get that rangefinder half-off and also get a brand new pair of golf slacks marked-down 80%.

imageIf you don’t have the time to research it now, just put a handwritten note in an envelope telling your son what’s going on and put it under the tree. He may be a bit shocked or disappointed at first, but when you tell him that he may end up with more items than if you paid a higher price, he’ll come on board.

Many of you folks are careful and conscientious shoppers and likely spend your money more prudently than we do, but we do make a solid ongoing effort to be better stewards of our money and that certainly includes our family golf budget. So, take a minute and think about those pricier golf items your son has been wanting. The new driver for $479.00, that pair of great-looking slacks for $85.00 or the latest GPS or rangefinder for $299.00. We just very rarely pay retail for anything other than a bag of tees or golf gloves. There is somebody with some golf item on sale pretty much every day or the year and you might as well take advantage of it. (photo reliableindex.com)

Another factor is do you want to go to a brick and mortar store or would you rather just buy online and be done with it. Linda found the exact same item, same brand and everything that she buys at a local store, for the exact same price on Amazon. You know what she did, Linda bought from Amazon for the sheer convenience! On the other hand, tomorrow S3 and I are joining a friend to drive 50 miles to a huge retailer because the main item we are interested in must be seen and felt in-person and it’s already on sale for 40% off retail. A killer deal! Take a chill pill and get after it!

See you on #1 tee looking like you got a good deal… Sam

Junior Golf: How Far Is That?

In this Monday Mulligan we will take a look at the #1 question asked during a round of golf. Yes, of all the talk that may or may not take place on the golf course, this question or 1 very similar is by far, the most asked: How far is it to the pin? How many yards to clear the hazard? What’s the distance to the fairway bunker? Distance, distance, yards and more distance makes up the context of the most asked question when your daughter is playing.image

Golf courses are measured in yards or meters. Did you ever wonder why distance is important? How far it is from point A to point B is crucial to the sport. Golf course designers used yardage in virtually every aspect of their work. Where to put or not put a design element such as a bunker, water hazard, turn in the fairway, a slope to the green or whether to leave or remove a tree.

Your daughter must know distances so she can properly plan her approach to the whole course, then her strategy for each hole and of course, plan her next shot. So how do you figure out distance on a golf course? Well, there are several ways. There’s the old fashioned way of reading sprinkler head yardage or using trees or rocks placed at specific yardages on holes or there may be yardage on the paved cart path.

In reality, this only works to a point and then your daughter is basically estimating distance. So how do you improve accuracy? You buy 1 of the many digital yardage devices. They come in many shapes and sizes from a number of reputable makers. Now Dad and Mom beware: nearly 100% of the tournaments your daughter will play in allow devices which give ONLY distance. The device you buy cannot give wind or slope readings. Every now and then you may hear that it’s ok to use a device which is capable of giving slope and wind readings, but these functions must be turned off during play. I would never risk it.

imageWhat do you buy? I had a GolfLogix GPS that that I used for years and it worked well. Our good friend Gordon has a Garmin GPS watch that he loves. Over the years however, there is 1 distance-measuring device which is far and away the one we have seen the most in junior golf and college golf tournaments. It’s your everyday golf rangefinder. Why are they so popular? They are relatively inexpensive. They have no annual fee. And like every golf shot is different, every reading on a rangefinder is different. In other words, they are infinitely able to give custom yardages on each shot, which makes them the most similar the sport where no 2 shots are the same. There are no limits to which landmark you can get a yardage to.

S3 has a Bushnell Golf Range Finder and it has been great. It’s at least 5 or 6 years old and it has always worked perfectly. Even with all the golf S3 plays, he only changes the battery about 1x per year. I mean folks, this is great. There are several brands to choose from but I think if you look around or ask your daughter’s swing coach, Bushnell is likely be the most prevalent brand. Whatever brand you buy, make sure it only reads distance. Competitive golf is hard enough without risking a penalty or disqualification for illegal equipment.

See you on #1 tee knowing how far to hit your 1st shot… Sam

Junior Golf: Bigger Gifts

In today’s Friday Flop Shot we will take a look at the bigger and more costly gifts that are available for your daughter. We have spent our previous posts looking more at stocking stuffers, items that are relatively inexpensive and fun and even useful. Now let’s examine some of the higher-end options out there. (photo offcoursegolf.com)image

Buyer beware Mom and Dad! There are thousands of items priced from $29.95 up to $2,000.00 and many of them are fantastic and worth every penny. There are some however that are not worth 5 cents. Before you spend any money, ask your daughter’s swing coach or any PGA Professional for their opinion or check out online reviews. You can see golf legends and top golf coaches promoting a number of products. They all sound great and probably are helpful to many players. Your daughter does not need every one of these aides. Any 1 item would be the most useful.

Discuss with her what part of her game she thinks needs the most improvement. If she is not sure, I’d go for a putting aid. Putting along with chipping are the 2 places to save the most strokes. Buying 1 putting aid maintains her focus on a single aspect of improving her game. You can buy putting aids at most sporting goods stores or from the golf specialty stores, but if you want to kick it up a notch, go to Dave Pelz’s website. Dave is one of the legendary short game coaches and has a fantastic reputation. We have a 20-year old Pelz putting aid that is money! When S3 hits 30-50 putts per day with this aid, for a week or 2 before a tournament, he’ll make virtually every putt 7-feet or less. In fact, when he doesn’t putt well, he likely did not use it prior to the event. (photo dwquailgolf.com)

There are a plethora of swing trainers, swing analyzers, swing weights, nets to hit into in the back yard, etc. Keep it simple. Only buy something your daughter will use, hopefully with or without your oversight. I like the chipping net for the backyard. Again Dad and Mom chipping and putting are the quickest parts of your daughter’s game where she can save strokes.image

Now if you want to spend big money like $1,000.00-2,000.00 you have a couple of places to do it. Buying new clubs can easily get you over $1,000.00. Rarely do we buy new clubs, but that’s why there is chocolate and vanilla. If you just must buy some new clubs you can start small, maybe get a new wedge or 2. You can buy top-quality name brand wedges for $129.00 or less nearly all year long. Or a new driver. You can easily spend up to $500.00-600.00 on the latest long bomber. Or new irons. Ah yes, 4-A wedge can run from $499.00-1299.00 depending on make and model. Go for it. There is something special about brand new!

imageNow the other big money option is book a few days at a golf resort. There are plenty in the US from The California desert to Florida, not to mention Hawaii or the Bahamas. Most of these places are great, not inexpensive but truly memory-making locales. And there is the amazing World Golf Hall of Fame in St Augustine, Florida. Linda and I have been there and played the 2 signature courses, The King and Bear and The Slammer and Squire, both different and fun. Contact PGA Experiences and ask what specials they have available.

So here are a few thoughts on helping you spend your money this Holiday Season. I’m afraid that our family is doing quite a fine job of spending money already. Thanks for your offer to help but our cash is flowing outward at a strong pace!

See you on #1 tee with something new in your bag… Sam

Junior Golf: The Gift of Giving

imageIn this Wednesday Waggle we will talk about the other side of the Christmas gift equation, giving rather than receiving. While I think most parents would expect their children to enjoy giving to those less fortunate, sometimes it is not until we see our youngster’s faces after they see the faces of the recipients of their gifts, that we genuinely understand the feelings involved.

1 of S3’s first experiences with giving was when he was 5 or 6 years old. There was a lady who each Thursday night needed volunteers to put together sack lunches to be given to the homeless in downtown San Antonio. So I, Linda and S3 headed over to help. S3, while not overjoyed at this, was at least curious and eager to see what was involved. Reality hit when the lady in charge explained the importance of what we were about to do, which was make 500 sack lunches which would probably be the only food the recipients would get for a whole day or longer. Now when a kid of any age sees 2 pieces of white bread with 1 slice of bologna, a tiny bag of chips and a can of soda go into a paper bag and that’s all someone may get to eat for 24 hours or more, they are certainly taken aback. The positive feelings of doing something truly worthwhile were evident with all who helped and it hit S3 pretty hard.image

Some members of our Parenting Awesome Kids Sunday School Class have strong ties to the Salvation Army. There were openings to be red kettle bell ringers at a local retail store and we asked if any families wanted to work 3-hour shifts. Folks volunteered and made some lifetime family memories and saved the Salvation Army from having to pay folks for those shifts.

Yes, it’s easier to just write a check and that’s a good thing. But if you really want to impact your kids and yourself and spouse as well, get face-to-face with a real-life giving experience. Ask around, call the Salvation Army or some local churches. You will be amazed at how many viable options there are. And don’t be shocked when your junior golfer gives you a strange look when you tell them what your family has signed up for. It’s the look after you are finished that will melt your heart. And this may very well be the start of a new dimension of thinking for you child.

Linda and I have watched S3 and a number of his friends grow into their own spirit of giving. Many come home from college to participate in the Feed My Starving Children Campaign which is held here every September. Once you expose your kids to these wonderful opportunities to give you will see them have an eagerness to participate in future events. They get it.

A word on charities. Not all are what they appear to be. 2 that we are very comfortable with are the Salvation Army and Feed My Starving Children. Both have extremely low administrative expenses, meaning that a huge percentage of revenue goes directly toward helping those in need. A story: we met a young lady that mentioned she had spent time in Haiti working with a Christian charity. When I said that we had worked with Feed My Starving Children, she said they had received and given out 1,000’s of FMSC packets in Haiti. Folks it is reassuring to have someone verify that they have actually given out the fruits of your and your child’s charitable efforts in a far away land.

See you on #1 tee looking charitable… Sam

Junior Golf: Mark This Gift

In today’s Monday Mulligan we are taking a look at more fun gifts. This item is 1 that all golfers, including the pros use at least 20 times or more during an 18-hole round. And there are a bunch of styles from plain to fancy to bling and all varieties in between. (Photo jennleforge.com)image

Your daughter will use her putter at least 20 times during each 18-hole round. Less than 20 putts is rare, even for the pros, and I think 26-27 putts is about average for the PGA Tour players. So what am I talking about here? It’s a ball marker. That thing you notice most when a player in your daughter’s group doesn’t have 1.

How many times have all of us seen a golfer ask somebody for a coin or mark their ball with a tee, which is awkward and ugly at best. College golfers have asked me more than once if I had a coin or ball marker, before they teed off, of course. On the tournament day checklist please put ball marker prominently on it and even twice if necessary. I mean come on.image

Your daughter’s ball should only be sitting on the green when it is her turn to putt. While I’m not a rules expert, I don’t think there is a requirement to mark the ball on the green, unless perhaps it impedes another player’s ability to execute their next shot, but it is certainly 1 of the most common forms of etiquette. And if your daughter asks a another player to mark her ball I believe she is pretty much required to do so. Check the rules if you wish. The point is your daughter should not have to look at somebody else’s ball on the green when it is your daughter’s turn to putt, and vice versa. The 1st thing your daughter should do when she gets to the green is mark her ball, then repair her own ball mark plus 1 more.

Frankly I can’t stand to see a player leave their ball unmarked when it is someone else’s turn to putt. But enough of this, let’s go to the fun. There are a plethora of ball markers out there. Today’s photos will enlighten you a bit. Please put several quarters in a baggie and put it in her golf bag and leave it. And remind your daughter that it is there.image

The most popular ball markers we have seen over the years are coins, the magnetic round markers that usually sit on a magnet clipped to the bill of your daughter’s cap and some really big commemorative medals or even poker chips. A tip: use something with 2 different sides and make 1 side the always use side. Turn it over to the other side only when she needs to move her mark. This serves as a reminder to move her mark back to its original position.

Please note that the sample we are showing here are only a tiny bit of the offerings for ball markers. School logos, names, golf course logos, butterflies, bling, animals, the variety is as big as human imagination. These essential items are very inexpensive so why not get a couple of different ones, because they are relatively easy to lose.

See you on #1 tee with a really cool ball marker… Sam

Junior Golf: Even More Gifts

In this Friday Flop Shot we are sticking with our gift mode. Yes, there are so many fun items available for junior golfers this time of year, we want to keep introducing you to some off them.image

On a recent excursion to 1 of our area’s big golf stores, Linda and I found a ton of unexpected goodies. We talked about head covers a few posts ago but we soon found out that we were totally unaware of some additional really cool ones that may only be around for a relatively brief period. In the 1st photo you see the pink unicorn and brown chipmunk. And in the 2nd pic you see a Star Wars trio of Yoda, Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper. Perhaps your family and young golfers are not Star Wars fans and that’s fine. I can tell you however, that there are a bunch of college golfers that would love a Star Wars head cover and there are some female college golfers who would be thrilled to have that unicorn on their driver. So please don’t think these are only for the very young junior golfers. They are fun, even relaxing to some. What the heck, just buy one! You can always return it.

Now when all the excitement of opening presents is starting to wind
down, here’s a gift that, depending on your and/or your son’s state of mind, will provide hours of entertainment or drive everybody crazy! It’s called the Golf Ball Water Globe. This is a clear globe, filled with fluid. A tee is mounted to the bottom and a golf ball is free-floating as well. The object is of course, to get the ball on the tee. Well, I can tell you that Linda and I and a couple of folks in the checkout line were not able to do so. It’s 1 of those things that looks so simple, but really isn’t. Perhaps once you figure out the plan, getting the ball on the tee is easier. Hey, it’s great fun and it can look good on a shelf or mantel when you’re not playing with it. Come on, let your fun flag fly!

You’re probably doing some shopping this weekend anyway, so plan a trip to your closest big golf store and see what they’ve got that is just plain different from the everyday golf nut’s and bolts. If you can’t physically go to a big golf retailer, go online. Maybe you get free shipping and maybe no sales tax. The point is do something unexpected. Your junior golfer will love it.

See you on #1 tee with a new head cover… Sam

Junior Golf: More Fun Gifts

In today’s Wednesday Waggle we are looking at even more fun gifts to give your son during this holiday season. Linda and I recently spent some time at our nearby Golfsmith store and found some more very nice, useful and even whimsical gifts.image

Memories are such a big part of the time you and your son will spend together during his junior golf and even college golf years. The obvious answer to capturing memories is with photos or videos but there is another way that we really like. Almost every golf course in America has its own logo golf balls and they make a great souvenir. Buy 1 from each course your son plays whether it’s in a tournament or not. Then buy a golf ball display rack. They are available online and from the big golf stores like Golfsmith, Golf Galaxy, Edwin Watts Golf, tgw.com and more. We have the 25-count displays just because they are easy to move around on the wall. Sizes range up to about 60 balls and prices run from $29-$69.image

To increase the variety of balls and memories, we have asked other teams for 1 of their logo balls, remembering the competition. And we have displayed S3’s and my hole-in-one balls. You can also go online and order logo golf balls from Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament and from other legendary golf venues as well. Your son is playing golf and golf balls provide a ton of memories. It’s just remembering to get them when you have the chance.

Something else just a little bit different is some new tees that S3 and a bunch of his college golf buddies have really starting using. These are the No Resistance Tees by Z-TECH. They promote a 5-point suspension system for the golf ball that is supposed to mean less resistance at impact.Well, I’m not sure the guys will tell you they are getting more distance, but they will tell you they like these tees because they just don’t break very often. Yes, it may seem like a small thing but I’ll tell you that the more your son really likes and appreciates every single item he uses on the golf course, the better off he will be.

See you on #1 tee with a logo ball and some No Resistance Tees… Sam

Junior Golf: Buy A Fun Gift

In today’s Monday Mulligan we will consider buying something different for your daughter, something fun and unexpected. The nuts and bolts routine of buying white golf balls, white golf gloves and tees is just taken for granted. Well, Mom and Dad, this is the time of year to get a bit more creative with your golf purchases for your girl.image

Christmas shopping is in full speed ahead mode and stores already have plenty of discounts and sales going on. This is 1 of those times to buy an off-the-wall gift or 2 for your daughter. So what are things you could buy that would be at least half-way useful and not totally embarrass your daughter out in public? Those of you with teenage daughters know that they very well may believe that a parent’s sole goal in life is to publicly embarrass her. That being a given, let’s proceed.

Think about what she wears and uses on the range and on the golf course. Here are some easy suggestions: buy a new crazy or animal head cover for her driver. I mean if you look you can find at least a half-dozen different animal heads, plus a couple of bird heads, including roosters. There are college mascot head covers as well. And there are some head cover designs you would never have imagined in your wildest dreams. So this is just fun.

Also there are now a couple of golf glove makers who offer colors in addition to white. You know what her favorite colors are, so buy her a couple of gloves in bright colors and surprise her. Also be certain, and we have mentioned this before, to buy some of the wet or wetter is better gloves and tell her to keep them in her bag and remember that they are in there. Most major glove makers have these and most are sold in pairs, as in a right and a left hand glove, and are black. Just buy these and put them under the tree. If she already has a paired wet gloves, buy her another pair from a different maker so she can decide which brand she prefers. These gloves are absolutely essential in damp or wet weather.

Now, it’s time to really get crazy. Linda, my dear wife, just loves to play with colored golf balls. I mean if there’s a yellow, orange, hot pink or purple golf ball handy, she’s teeing it up! Frankly those purple balls are hard for me to see and I think for us that color slows down play. And of course, I can’t say to her if she would just hit it in the fairway and on the green it would be much easier to see!!! Linda and I were playing recently and I found 1 of those Callaway Truvis Chrome Soft White red and white golf balls. They are quite striking to look at. Linda immediately put it in play. I’m not sure if for me, those 2 colors make it harder for me to focus at 1 spot on the ball. And then maybe with my golf game it doesn’t really matter.image

For those of you with sons instead of daughters you can still use this information. Just consider what your son likes, or what would embarrass him in your buying decisions, just kidding, well maybe. I mean, if Tom Watson can wear beautiful and colorful golf gloves, your son can too. The point here is to break out of your normal buying habits without breaking the bank. A sleeve of colored golf balls and a colorful golf glove might be $35.00 total at most. Head covers range from inexpensive to ridiculous.

Have fun. Show your fun self to your daughter or to your son. They’ll love it!

See you on #1 tee looking colorful and fun… Sam

Junior Golf: Get Out Of The Rut

In this Friday Flop Shot we are going to explore the possibility of playing some different golf courses, places that you and your son have never played. There are 100’s of great golf courses all over the US and in nearby vacation destinations.image

This time of year we expect to be inundated by ads for every type of gift and present imaginable. You know what, I’m getting more than a few offers from amazing golf courses and resorts. Really Dad and Mom, other than upcoming tournaments, nothing is more exciting for your son than to dream about playing a new golf course or perhaps even playing a legendary golf course. So in addition to the emails from retailers, including golf retailers, I am getting special offers from our local Alamo City Golf Trail and the First Tee of Greater San Antonio as well as offers from the TPC Network and the PGA TOUR Experiences. And there are also the constant offers from the hotel groups offering their golf vacation packages.

So the thing to do is find your local and state golf groups and get on their email lists. Then do the same with the hotel groups that are resort oriented like SPG/Starwood, Hilton and Marriott. And TPC Network and PGA TOUR Experiences mentioned above. Friends of ours have gone to Alabama to play the 9 courses on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

imageSit down with your son and start looking at courses that work for your schedule and budget. Some might be a bit of a tough day trip, maybe a 3-hour drive, 1-way, but will create memories for both your lifetimes. And others offer exotic locales and all the other big resort benefits. The point here is that there are affordable courses not that far from you that will allow your son and you to play different turf. There’s really nothing quite like playing a course for the 1st time.

Get out of the rut. We all have our regular courses. Remember that while no 2 golf shots are ever the same, playing a new golf course can stimulate your son’s creativity. So whether you’re driving a couple of hours or flying for a week’s stay at an exotic golf resort, the 1st step is to get on email lists so you know about good deals when they are available.

Where is the nearest course that has a PGA, Champion’s Tour or LPGA event? Which TPC Network resort is near you? What is the current offering of the PGA TOUR Experience? You won’t know if you don’t get on some email lists. You can ask your local PGA professional, but he will likely have local and limited input.

See you on #1 tee, on a new course… Sam

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