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The crazy world of junior golf - a.k.a learn to lose

Ok so this is a bit of a rant but I want to get this off my chest. My kids and students play golf tournaments, so we are out and about in the competitive golf world. In my experience, we have a serious problem with kids and probably, more importantly, parents who have no idea how to lose. In the tournaments my 10-year-old daughter has played in they were handing out medals for 5th place. Many times the 5th place competitor was 20 or more shots out of first place. I get trying to encourage kids or congratulating them for trying hard but why are we rewarding finishing last? So now we’ve created an environment in which a kid expects a trophy just for showing up. The only difference in finishing first vs fifth this day and age is the color of the ribbon. So we’ve taken away the opportunity for the child to grow as a competitor by hard work and effort. We’ve robbed the child of the motivation that disappointment can fuel. The following are some examples I’ve experienced first hand or has been relayed to me by close acquaintances. Parents yelling at their kids for poor shots and berating the child to the point that the child is in tears. I’ve seen kids in tears after finishing second, refusing to shake hands or honor their competitors. Parents lying about how many shots their kid has played, improving the lie of the golf ball. Parents becoming very angry almost to the point of physical confrontation. Parents going on profanity tirade directed at their children. Parents confronting and bullying a fellow competitor and trying to intimidate the competitor by accusing of rules violations. I witnessed a PGA member and fellow golf pro challenging scoring after everything was reported and signed when he found out his daughter had lost by a single shot. He claimed his daughter was being cheated, he continued his tirade into the parking lot accusing everyone in the organization. I told him he was setting a really poor example and that just set him off, he threatened me and said his daughter would have it out for mine. I witnessed a girl bawling her eyes out because she finished second in the Drive, Chip, and Putt. It was so ridiculous that it pretty much embarrassed everyone around and the girl didn’t want any of the trophies. These are are some examples of what I’ve encountered in golf tournaments and to be honest, I’ve got others and I’ve heard crazy stories from friends. Overall just poor sportsmanship and examples from parents. Parents so desperate for their children to win that they will do anything to accomplish their goal. So can we please teach our children that it’s ok to lose? Learning to win is a process that involves defeat, setbacks, and growing pains. Just because you show up for a tournament does not mean you deserve to win. Tiger Woods at his peak was only winning 27% of the time! Today’s kids need to know to lose isn’t final, it’s just a step on the pathway to becoming a better golfer. Parents, do you realize how hard the game of golf is and how hard it is to perform under pressure? Why are you creating more pressure or making your child feel like a failure? My advice is this, back off and shut your mouth. Smile when your child hits a bad shot, hug them when they lose and tell them to stop crying when they don’t do as well as they’d like. Chances are they are crying because they feel they are letting you down.

Good golf friends

It‘s not all bad out there, in fact, we’ve met some great people and made good friends. Of course, we all want our kid to win but we all need to recognize it is a process. Teach your kids how to handle setbacks and more importantly teach yourself.


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