I recently met a man in his late 50s who wanted to learn to play golf. I asked him some basic questions: Had he played before or taken lessons, why did he want to pick up the game and what were his expectations? He told me he played when he was first out of college, but had a horrible time. I asked him to elaborate on this comment. One of his father’s friends had offered to give him a set of clubs to play with as long as he followed all of the rules and counted every shot. So this man read up a bit on the rules, went out for a few rounds, played the ball down everywhere, holed every putt and counted every shot. Guess what? He hated the game and didn’t think about playing until some 30 years later. Why? Because it wasn’t fun! As golf teaching professionals, I feel we have two important duties to our students: We should help improve their game with proper mechanical training and develop their mental game with course management theory. But the most important factor that oftentimes is missed is that we need to make sure the student is having fun. We can teach people about the swing plane and how to hit a proper bunker shot, but unless they are enjoying themselves, they are not going to keep playing the game. I apologized to this man that he was told to play that way. I told him that our course of action would be to throw out the rules, play the ball up everywhere and not keep score until he wants to. My goal was for him to want to come back to the golf course, plain and simple. To grow people’s love for the game, we must emphasize the fun of the sport, especially in the beginning. It’s not all about following the rules and keeping score, but instead learning to love the feeling of a solid-struck golf shot, making a ten-foot putt, or solely enjoying being outside in some of nature’s most beautiful settings. Golf is a game, and it should be enjoyed.
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