An important core value that I believe juniors need to learn early is responsibility. Responsibility is the state or fact of having a duty for something or someone. In golf, we must first be responsible for ourselves, this includes how we respond to situations. Most amateur golfers are willing to take responsibility for the positive outcomes but are quick to assign blame for the negative outcomes. In my opinion, these people lack integrity.
I hope to instill a desire in my students to own every decision they make and every action they take in golf and in life.
Golfers need to own their journey and take responsibility for their progress. Here's an example of what that could look like for a junior:
The key is your golfer is driving the activity respectully and courtesously. Let it be their journey!!
A caddie is a person that carries a golfer's clubs and provides assistance during match play. In junior tournaments, parents usually play the role of caddie when they are allowed. While this can create great bonding opportunities, it can also create some tense moments on the golf course. Either the golfer blames their caddie, their parent, for the bad decisions they make or worse the caddie is unwilling to allow the golfer an opportunity to make a bad decision.
Then, when the golfer progresses to a level of play where caddies are not permitted, the parents are still coaching from the cart path or interfering with play by walking in the fairway. This kind of parental interference in tournament play should never be tolerated.
At some point, parents have to be ok with being a spectator. Allow your golfers to apply everything they have learned. It is their game. Let them make their choices and adapt. If you don't how will they become responsible for their own actions?
sportsmanship: fair and generous behavior or treatment of others,
especially in a sports contest.
I like teaching golf because it is a great skill to have for your entire life. I also enjoy teaching golf because it is a competitive sport. If you are willing to put in the effort and the discipline to practice what you have been taught you can set yourself to do well in tournaments.
Sportsmanship counts when you are playing well and when you are playing poorly. One of my players was seen throwing his clubs in a recent tournament. This is absolutely unacceptable and I had a stern conversation with that player.
I was also told that a player withdrew from a tournament after playing only 9 of 18 holes. His father was unsatisfied with his level of play because he was unlikely to take first or second place so he pulled him out. Not only does this decision teach the golfer to give up rather than finish strong , it is unsportsmanlike conduct in my opinion. Three players started the round and three players should finish the round.
Another way to show sportsmanship is to stay until members of the age group have finished play. This is not always possible since some groups are very large but if there are only 2 or 3 groups, make the effort to stay and congratulate the winners.
Test your knowledge of sportsmanship and get some exercise!
When I coached golf summer camps we awarded a sportsmanship award to the golfer who best displayed this core value most consistently over the course of a week. Sadly, it was really tough to find someone who did. Most juniors lack the maturity to look past their bad shot and keep playing while others think it is fun to laugh at another's failures. None of this acceptable behavior and when I see it it gets corrected immediately.
To be quite honest, I believe most adults are challenged in this area as well. The game is golf and it is supposed to be fun. You will have days when your talent shows up on the scorecard and then there will be days when it doesn't. No matter the day, golfers of all any ages need to learn to support and encourage each other.
A moment that lasted beyond that moment!
Beaver Golf has over a dozen competitive junior golfers playing in tournaments over the course of a year. While I would love to attend, my teaching schedule combined with the fact that tournaments are all over Florida, make it difficult for me to do so. However, one time the location was near my house and the tee times were in the afternoon after my last lesson so I headed over to Okeeheelee to watch four of my players.
I was present when Mateo hit his second shot on hole 17. As I watched him from afar, I could sense something was wrong, we had practiced hitting balls over the trees which would have been the easy play but he had a different strategy that did not work out. Unfortunately, one bad decision compounded in several more, but I am proud that he did conduct himself with integrity. While winning is great, your character is always more important.
I read an opinion column in The Herald Times that caught my attention because it captured the very concepts that I teach to my junior students. The columnist starts off by explaining an unfortunate incident on a golf course that he witnessed at the age of 12. He made a decision to walk away because he did not agree with the behaviors. He closed with the following thought:
We grew up on that country club golf course. I think we grew up in a good way. I believe that the lesson we best learned as we played with poor, but honest, fellow caddies and ethical country club members like Mrs. Crenshaw, was to never violate the rules. For a score to be treasured at the end of 18 holes you need to know that for all of those holes you never transgressed, you never cheated yourself. And your score in life, like the score on the golf course is laudable only because you worked at following the rules — all of the rules. Maybe life is best lived when simply played like an honest and ethical game of golf. Just maybe
Character counts. The decisions we make today will determine the kind of person we become tomorrow. It took courage for a 12 year-old caddie to say no and years later he sounds like he would do it again. That's what integrity is all about!
During the Covid shutdown, I was asked if I would be willing to teach a student at their home. I am equipped to teach amidst all of the health concerns and the student was clearly comfortable with the idea. Based on the pictures, they had a nice set up with a net and I definitely would appreciate the income.
I went back and forth for a week and ultimately I decided not to accept the offer. While the income would have been great, my services are not considered essential during these times and I am not comfortable violating the current guidelines.
The dictionary defines integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is my hope that I will strive to make decisions that are just that.
Ask me a question and I will tell you the truth. It may not be the truth that you wish to hear but it will be the truth. We teach our children to tell the truth but sometimes they lack the confidence to speak it. This is especially true when they failed to complete a chore or an assignment. We have all been there, instead of telling the truth, we evade the question or come up with some elaborate story in an effort to avoid some kind of consequence.
I can't make the golfers complete any of the assignments. It is my hope that they will want to do them because they like and want to learn more about golf. There are no consequences. If I ask about an assignment, my only expectation is honesty. An honest answer cannot be a wrong answer.
I have been fortunate to teach a lot of junior golfers and I love it because I believe I have an opportunity to shape the future of young people both on the course and in life. One of the ways I hope to do that is by teaching them nine core values.
If you look up the word honest in the dictionary you will find a number of definitions that include: free from fraud or deception, truthful, legitimate, genuine, real, reputable and respectable. These are words that a golfer should strive to not only play by but also live by in their daily lives.
In my experience, people who are willing to cheat on their scorecard in golf cannot be trusted to do the right thing in business or in life.