This week I discovered the fun in taking an 8 year old grandson for his first-ever round of golf on a "real" golf course. Or, as he so succinctly put it ... "Finally, I get to golf while I'm moving around, instead of just standing in one place."
His previous experience consisted of going to the driving range and hitting balls with the "big club" as he calls his driver.
I got to introduce him to his FW (took me a while to figure out that was a "fairway wood) and his hybrid. The hybrid, as it turned out, became his favorite club. I couldn't fault his choice. I call mine my "magic club."
It was a beautiful summer day and having promised myself that I would take each of my grandchildren on an individual golf outing one day during the summer, I canvassed my daughters to see who was available. Nathan came out on top! His mom had to wake him to give him the news of this spur-of-the moment outing, and, once he heard, he didn't waste any more time under the covers.
He decided to bring two hats with him to the golf course ... golfers DO wear hats after all. He came downstairs with his propellor beanie on his head, carrying his baseball cap from the "Get your Rear in Gear" walk. Now that I think of it, that's a wonderfully appropriate hat for the golf course ... if I could only get mine into it, I might hit further than 130 yards!
I was a little concerned about the propriety of the propellor beanie hat, but not wanting to dampen his enthusiasm or his individuality, I kept silent (I also don't want to be remembered as "the crabby grandma"). When we got out of the car and started loading our clubs onto the golf cart, he changed hats. I wondered if he had been reading some golf fashion magazine during summer break. He later told me he played a lot of Wii Golf. Ahh, technology. It even informs fashion for the unschooled.
We played a par-3 course, beginning about 11:45 a.m. There were several twosomes (walkers) a couple holes in front of us and several a couple holes behind us, so there was no pressure at any time to hurry this young Rory McIlroy along ... we were free to engage in some flights of fancy as we enjoyed the presence of a white butterfly following Nathan and his ball down one fairway and then land on his ball, "kissing" it before darting away. We decided the butterfly kiss must have been what caused him to hit his next shot so well.
We had a few lessons on having to stand fairly still while hitting the ball, not taking a full backswing with the putter, and keeping one's "eye on the ball." Along the way, I didn't even have to explain golf terms or appropriate golf behavior. When a putt from off the green missed, he groaned and said, "Oh, I thought I was going to have a chip-in." While I was grateful he hadn't yet learned the "golf language" used when missing those chip-ins, I wondered aloud how he knew what chipping in meant. He again cited his familiarity with the game through Wii Golf, also advising me that golf was his favorite sport! Virtual sports ... gotta love 'em.
I wanted to build a memory for him of his "golfing grandma" that he would carry with him forever. I thought sharing little mental golf tips that seem to work for me (sometimes!) would be a good building block for that memory. So, as I putted on one green, I explained how you should picture a railroad track running from your putter to the hole, and then stroke the ball down the railroad track. The ball, of course, totally missed the cup, going right past it. Nathan astutely observed, "Guess the train jumped the tracks." Hope that's not the memory he retains!
Of course, I let him drive the cart ... every 8-year old's dream. He did pretty well, even with his arms crossed in the shape of an X as he tried to turn the wheel (remember being a teen-ager learning to drive a car?) I'd have to pass him on his driver's test .. by the end of 9 holes, we hadn't hit any trees and had only driven over 2 tee boxes ...
Wanting him to have the full golf experience, we engaged in appropriate golf behavior at the end of the round as well ... a burger and a beverage on the clubhouse patio. While sitting there, we watched other golfers putting out on the 18th green. Not realizing it wasn't the same course we had just played, Nathan commented that he hadn't noticed the dining patio when he and I were on the last green. I told him we had played a different course, a short one. His comment: "Yeah, we didn't have time to play the long one." I love the unfettered view a child has of his own abilities.
As we left the course, I was thinking about how happy I was that the timing of our game had been such that we hadn't delayed anyone else's game. After all, as would be expected for a first-time golfer paired with a Golfing Granny, the two of us had needed a fair number of strokes on each of the holes. We're the twosome you hurry to get ahead of when you see us in the parking lot or the pro shop. Speaking out loud as I drove away from the course, I said, "It was a perfect day. We couldn't have picked a better time to play. No one in front of us or behind us. Thank you, God."
From the back seat, a small voice said, "Uh, actually, Grandma, it was us." Guess God will have to wait for another day to get His due.
When I dropped Nathan off at his house, he told me not to leave for a minute. He disappeared into the field across the street only to return with a gift for me ... his building block for MY memory of this day.
It was a perfect day! Thank you God AND Nathan!