If I could only get him to play!

I have to admit that I have uttered this statement probably more than most. I don’t bother to force it anymore; (a) my husband has a much better time encouraging my son to play golf and (b) any “family” round we play will be much more enjoyable if he is not feeling coerced and pouting over every shot. He would much rather be building new inventions with legos and modern day versions of tinker toys than playing golf.

Even if they just come with you they are still LEARNING about the game so it is still a worthwhile experience. However, there ARE ways to get your child to play which I have found, over the years, which actually work. If you need to play a quick 9 and don’t want to hire a babysitter, or perhaps, want your child to have the exposure to the game at a young age that perhaps you didn’t – here are a few suggestions:

Play with others.

When it’s just mommy and/or daddy he or she might not want to be bothered. However, if you invite another player or two your little one might want to “show off” what he or she can do.

Play alone.

Some kids are shy and the strategy above won’t work at all. If you find yourself always paired with others and with a reluctant child perhaps he or she would do better with less of an audience.

Make a game of it.

My son loves to be tickled, especially when we’re out an about and he’s bored. Even if he hasn’t played a single hole I’ll throw down an extra ball on the green, bring his putter and tell him that if he 2 putts I’ll tickle him on the spot. The trick with this one is to find things you’ll actually follow through with.

Another thing my husband does is to drive the cart 50 or so yards ahead of our son and then say hit the cart! He swings his hardest and right afterwards the cart zigzags up a few more yards.

Bring other kids.

Often it’s about the battle. As with anything they want you to hound them rather than acquiescing, but if you have other little kids who are going about their business and playing; their likely to step up and do the same so they’re not the odd one out.

Stay upbeat.

Keep it relaxed between shots; let them play with the balls or rake the bunker. It’s not worth getting angry over and losing your cool on the course. Plus that will make them dig their heels in even more. Marvel over their decent shots and overlook their mistakes and swing flaws. Fun is more important than anything at this point.

Reward, reward, reward.

Play 4 holes and we’ll stop for ice cream afterwards!

Children have no intrinsic reason to want to put the ball in the hole without a real incentive. Make it real for them and they will be motivated to participate. Right now it’s just “mommy’s game”. I probably would have hated golf as a kid, but as an adult it kindles my competitive fires like nothing else. Wait and see; they might actually WANT TO PLAY when they get older.