Wednesday, April 03, 2002

JAKE'S DEBUT ON THE LINKS


Jake and I hit the links last week. I took him out to play nine holes at a real golf course. It was the first time he hit a golfball anywhere besides a driving range. The course is really more of a pitch and putt - I don't think any fairway is longer than 175 yards and most everything is a three-par, some as short as 60 yards. Also, as you can see from the photo, there is a disconcerting lack of trees or any vegetation higher than a blade of grass. But the location - especially at 9 am - was perfect for us. We were alone for all nine holes, giving Jake plenty of room to hit two balls, tee up every shot and such.

I seriously thought Jake would burn out within 3 holes or the vast open spaces would act like a bowl of jellybeans and turn him goofy, running and falling all over the course. Instead, he was totally immersed in the game and learning the rules - who hits first, which tee does he swing from, does the flag stay in or out of the hole. He didn't run amuck as I expected and instead held it together, shooting about a 60 until the final hole, when he got buried in a deep bunker and never got out.

I thought it was pretty cool, because I enjoyed playing with him and he enjoys it too. That's been my point encouraging his interest in golf. I don't showed him anything technical. It's just here's your club, there's the flag, swing. For years, I've played with my Father whenever I visit. I'd like to be able to do that with Jake we get older.

Not surprisingly, everyone who sees him swing a club comments on the weathly future I can look forward to as I manage the next Tiger Woods, That means big money in the bank for Natalie and me. Big, big bucks for which we should start planning now.

Yeah right.

I know people mean well saying this - and I probably swell with pride whenever I hear it - but can't kids just enjoy playing for the sake of play? Does everything need to have a potential dollar-value tied to it? I spent years listening to my father tell me how I was going to be a great baseball player and that continued long, long after I gave up the game (two years ago, he greeted spring by announcing, Well, you'd be signing you final multi-million deal this year if you'd a stuck with baseball).

Here's my plan...I hope to keep Jake interesed in golf and not teach him anything too technical about the game for at least a few more years. That way, I'll be able to beat him well into his high school years. After that, we'll see. If there's a big PGA payout, great. But I ain't counting on it.

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