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There’s no blueprint for how to get kids interested in the game, but the conversation begins here:

Start early and make it fun.

Pasatiempo, and returned to our hotel room that night and started designing his own holes. The next summer, when my wife and I struggled to get him to read a book for pleasure, she bought one on course design—and he happily disappeared into his room, im- mersed in the details of drainage and doglegs. Yeah, you might say he’s into

golf. It’s easy for our beloved, slow-

paced, steeped-in-history game to become lost on 21st-century kids. They enjoy a smorgasbord of sporting options these days, with increasing and mostly misguided pressure to specialize in one sport at an early age. Golf often falls by the wayside. But it still deserves its place on

the menu. Kids can feast on the traditional team sports and still fi nd a strong pull to the links, as Trevin (now 15) illustrates. He played soccer, fl ag football, bas- ketball and baseball in his younger days, and he played high school basketball and baseball this past school year, as a freshman. Even so, nothing stirs his soul quite like golf. “Golf was always just different,

unique,” he says. “It seemed like baseball and basketball and all those sports were the same in some ways. Golf was harder. It took more concentration.” There’s no blueprint for how to get kids interested in the game, but the conversation begins here: Start early and make it fun. Goof around on the practice green. Find a par-3 course like Grayson Woods, where they can take their time. Don’t fret about their skill level or entering junior tournaments.

30 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2015

One other suggestion: Buy a 5-wood or 7-wood. Kids want to see the ball in the air (witness my earlier anecdote about Trevin), whether or not it’s sailing toward the intended destination. And even if kids do show inter- est and aptitude in playing com- petitively, that can fi t within the wider framework of golf-as-family- activity. Just ask the Whitings. They are family friends, stem-

ming from Trevin playing youth baseball and fl ag football with Carter. He and his older brother, Griffi n, started smacking golf balls at age 2 or 3. They would go to the driving range with their parents, Chris and Jacqui, grab a burger and have a blast. Soon thereafter, the Whitings

put the boys in a junior summer program. The director, Tara Voogt, made golf enjoyable for kids with various games and contests. They also learned the etiquette, from not running on the greens (a strong temptation for 6-year-olds) to replacing their divots. Griffi n and Carter both played

golf for the local high school team this past spring, and they occasion- ally play in summer tournaments. But the game’s allure stretches deeper for the Whitings, mostly because the boys had a positive experience at a young age. “Before organized sports like

baseball and football, we would spend most of our summers playing golf with them,” Jacqui says. “It was and still is a special thing we do together as a family. Four hours on a golf course playing and talking has deepened our relationship with the boys, and we always have that in common. That has always been our go-to activity on a slow

NCGA Assistant Director of Course Rating Jeremy Gray and son Hudson

NCGA Web Development Manager Toivo Bettancourt and daughter Elyssa

NCGA Foundation Outreach Coordinator Sue Crampton and son Seb, after Seb’s fi rst AJGA victory. He now is a star golfer at Cal.

NCGA Executive Director Vaughn Kezirian and daughter/caddie Robin

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