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When it comes to youth on the golf course, you can subscribe to one of two great philosophers.There is the Whitney Houston school, wherein “I believe the chil- dren are our future/Teach them well and let them lead the way . . . ” And there is the W.C. Fields school, wherein the following is advocated: “Anybody who hates dogs and children can’t be all bad.”


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or purposes of a civil society, a good greater than your own and the future of a great game like golf, let’s all presume we’re members of the Whitney Houston School. (While you all get Houston’s “The Greatest


Love Of All” stuck in your head.) If you fi nd yourself siding with Fields, you can be dis-


missed now, to ponder another of Field’s life lessons: “Start every day off with a smile, and get it over with.” Now, back to kids playing golf. The topic came to the fore recently when a friend,


whose 8-year-old is becoming quite the linkster, saw his local municipal golf course try to raise greens fees on junior golfers. My friend, acting in the interest of future genera- tions—and quite frankly, his own, as he has a hunch his youngster may be the next Robert Tyre Jones—leaped into action, fought City Hall, pled the case of the kids and got a repeal on the rate hike. Bravo, my good man! Well, he did get 100% of his help


from the good people who publish this very magazine, the NCGA and their laudatory Youth On Course program, but let’s pretend for the moment that we all have a chance to affect change when it comes to youth and the future of


golf. What can we do to ensure that years from now, the children of today and to- morrow can learn to love the game of golf, play the game of golf and be haunted and tormented by the game of golf? Quick aside: I often wonder why my


grandpa and my dad ushered me toward the game. As its inevitable frustrations mounted for me—three-putts, shanks, duck hooks— my dad would say to me: “It’s the devil’s


MURPHY’S


own game, son.” So why did he pay for my fi rst golf lesson? There’s something about the commonality of human expe- rience in there, and I may need to see my therapist to get to the bottom of it. Aside from all the great things golf courses already do for kids, here are some suggestions to make sure the young’uns feel welcome on a golf course for now and all of eternity. After all, it would be quite awkward if they held a U.S. Open and nobody entered.


Mind Your Manners! The best way to make kids feel comfortable—and


perhaps just as important, to make the adults feel comfort- able seeing them on the golf course—is to teach the kids golf etiquette. The bad feelings start when kids who don’t know the rules are playing six balls a hole, hitting into groups ahead of them and blasting Eminem’s latest album on their phones at full volume while others are put- ting. So, how about local munis sponsor monthly or quarterly ‘Etiquette Sessions’ on a Saturday morning, taught by a local


high school or college player who works at the course?


You could make it fun. Test the kids and give prizes for the best divot replacement, ball mark fi xing or post-match handshake.


Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! Kids love nothing more than winning—except maybe burgers and fries. So why not have local golf courses put on Saturday or Sunday-morning put- ting contests on the putting greens? You could use only part of the green, so that paying muni duffers could still hone their strokes. Or, courses lucky enough to have driving ranges could spon- sor monthly or quarterly “Target Practice,” and have kids compete by aiming at targets on the range. Winners get milkshakes, or even better, two milkshakes.


Money Makes the World Go ‘Round Then there’s the most important thing of all, making


sure junior golf is affordable. We already learned the story of my friend who fought City Hall—with the great aid of Youth on Course—and the moral is instructive: Money is tight when raising a family, and funds to cover luxury expenses are in short supply. The bet- ter we all monitor junior golf rates to make sure kids can play once or twice a week, the better the game will be in the future. After all, every child in this world should be


granted the right to have a puppy, run in a grassy meadow and howl to the heavens when a three-footer to win a match cruelly lips out. Spread the love, fellow golfers.


BRIAN MURPHY hosts the KNBR morning show “Murph and Mac” and was the San Francisco Chronicle’s golf writer from 2001-2004. 66 / NCGA.ORG / WINTER 2014


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