One of my goals for this golf season was to get someone new hooked on the sport I love. While I’m not entirely sure that has happened, there’s definitely an effort being made.
In addition to teeing it up with the usual suspects of Nick, Ryan and Matt, as well as my once-a-year rounds with my brother Mark and my brother-in-law Matt, I’ve now introduced two brand new people to golf in 2018.
Last month, I wrote about playing with my father-in-law. He did quite well, but hasn’t asked to go again, so I’m not sure it was for him. I’m not giving up, though.
The most interesting case is also the most recent. After years of talking about it, I finally took out my 15-year-old nephew, Damien. Damien is an incredible kid. He does very well in school. He’s a fantastic trumpet player for the school’s marching band, pit band and the local drum corps. We’ve been playing board games together for as long as I can remember. He’s creative, funny and a joy to be around.
The one thing he doesn’t have a ton of experience in is sports. He may have played T-ball a decade ago and perhaps a year of soccer, too.
Playing with my father-in-law, you could tell that he was an athlete. While he didn’t always make clean contact (who does?), the swing obviously came naturally. Mark is the same way. He only plays once a year, but he grew up constantly playing sports so he has that natural ability to fall back on.
Watching Damien, however, I could tell that he was uncomfortable. That opened a nice window for me to impart some of the knowledge that I’ve picked up over the past five or six years. Quite honestly, it felt really good when I watched him take some of that advice, apply it and then hit a nice shot.
Nice shots did happen, too. There weren’t a ton of them, but the good thing about just starting golf is that it’s really easy to go home only thinking about your best shots. Yeah, 20 of your swings resulted grounders that only went a few yards, but what about that one putt you sank from 12 feet? That was awesome.
What I found particularly intriguing was the club that Damien became comfortable with. I usually have new golfers use a 6-iron to start with. It’s a mid-length club that allows players to simply concentrate on making good contact. Yet Damien quickly gravitated to the 4-iron. That’s a club that I don’t even pull out anymore because I find it difficult to hit.
Yet there were probably three or four shots with that club that he sent 100+ yards. That might not sound like a ton if you’re a regular golfer, but trust me when I say I was impressed by some of the later swings that Damien took. If nothing else, he was listening to some of the advice I was offering.
If any of you are curious about my game that day, it wasn’t good. A few days after shooting a 36 at Vineyards Golf Course, I vaulted up to a 42 with Damien. Tying it into my other hobby, there’s a saying in board games that if you’re teaching a game, you should lose. Not on purpose, mind you, but you should be so invested in making sure that others are understanding the game and having a good time, that your own strategy will suffer.
I feel like that’s how my round with Damien went. I had some good shots, of course, but there were obvious lapses in concentration that normally don’t show up. I even had a three-putt on No. 8 — a green on which I’ve had enormous success putting this season.
Still, I had an awesome time sharing my love of golf with my nephew. My sister texted me later in the day to say that Damien had been talking about how much fun he had. Apparently he’s itching to go again. Maybe I did get someone hooked.
I’m curious if any readers out there have good stories about new golfers. Maybe you remember your first round. Maybe you took someone out for their first time and it led to an interesting or hilarious anecdote. I’d love to hear the stories. If I get enough, maybe I’ll dedicate an article to sharing them in the future.
Until then, golf is great. Go get some.
Stefan Gestwicki is an OBSERVER contributing writer. Comments on this article or any other can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.