Saturday, July 9

Family Golf Month Plus How I Got Started in the Game

JULY IS FAMILY GOLF MONTH. PGA and LPGA professionals at golf facilities around the nation are offering special events, rates and programs to families in July and throughout the summer, including:
  • Family Golf Clinics
  • Family Golf Play Days
  • Kids Play Free
  • Bring Your Kids to the Golf Range
  • Take Your Daughter to the Course Week (July 5-11)
  • Sticks for Kids
  • PGA Family Course
  • USGA-PGA Course Access (Junior Rates)
  • Other Special Programs
To find out more, visit Play Golf America Family Golf Month.

(Photo: Desert Aire Golf Course, where my family played when I was a school boy.)

My Start at Age 12

It wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say that golf was a family game during my youth. We all played, even my mom, the least avid golfer in the family. She was a nine-holes-after-supper player. She was good but expected far too much. The game frustrated her, and she put away her clubs for good in the 1970s.

My brother played in the summertime but never caught the bug like I did. The game became a consuming passion for my dad and me. A family pass was $30 a month at Desert Aire Golf Course in Palmdale, California. For less than $100 our family could play unlimited golf all summer long. And I did.

On the edge of the Mojave Desert, Desert Aire was a flat, short, 9-hole public course with few distinguishing features besides the Joshua trees that were native to the area. It was not a difficult course. Nor was it a course anyone was dying to play. But it was the course where I learned to play golf. I loved Desert Aire.

I gave up baseball for golf at the age of 12 and spent my summer days on the fairways. I sometimes rode my bike three miles on sandy trails to Desert Aire with a small carry bag slung over my shoulder. I had a little shag bag of scuffed and cut golf balls that I hit to a lone practice green. I learned to hit off hardpan because grass was scarce at Desert Aire. I pretended to be the pro golfers I watched on television. It was hot. Triple-digit heat was normal. The old-timers went off early, some at 6 a.m. My golf buddies and me played in furnace conditions during the early and mid afternoon when the course cleared out. One day I made five 9-hole loops around Desert Aire, walking 45 holes.

I never had a formal private golf lesson from our head pro “Red” Simmons or assistant pro Ron O’Connor. I did take group junior lessons. Ron refined my grip, and at some point in my junior career Red gave me a tip about the shoulder turn. (I still rely on that swing thought.)

I made the high school golf team as a freshman. I was terrible. I fit right in. Palmdale High finished eighth out of eight teams that year. I got better and our team improved to third place when I was a senior. I went on to play one year at Antelope Valley College. Because I fell in love with golf and learned to play the game at humble Desert Aire, I enjoyed the privilege of competing at private country clubs and public resort courses throughout California. I never once regretted putting down that baseball glove.

How about you? How did you get started in golf? Did your family play?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Desert Aire Golf Course)


Brian Kuehn said...

It all started for me 50 years ago in the Appleton, Wisconsin, gymnasium of the YMCA. My father had been talked into joining a local 9-hole club and so my mother enrolled herself and the kids in a group lesson early in the Spring. We mastered how to hit whiffle balls off a rubber mat and then were set loose on the golfing world.

I was the only one who got bit by the bug, although my parents re-introduced themselves to the game as they approached retirement age.

To me it is interesting how modern equipment and balls have changed the game, even for me. I certainly am not stronger or more flexible than even 10 years ago. However, I hit it further, straighter and more consistently now than an time in my life.

Constantine said...

For me I got started very late in life. The first time I walked inside a golf course was when I was 24. It was immediately after I got my first job and our boss invited us for a weekend round of Golf. I spent more time watching than swinging the clubs.

Ron Celano said...

I have a similar story. Some guys at my new job 53 years ago invited me to play after work. I knew nothing about the game but have been hooked ever since. According to the National Golf Federation golf participation is down for going on 5 years now. What better way to increase interest than to get your family and friends involved.

Author of "Triangulate Your Golf Swing."

Scott said...

It was actually my best friend's father who took me for my first round of golf when I was 11 years old. I was playing a lot of baseball in the summertime and I'll never forget his words as he handed me one of his old clubs: "It's not a baseball bat and you're not Superman."

Jordan J. Caron said...

I was introduced to the game by my dad like many boys. My brothers weren’t interested but we managed to get my mom to play!

I really hope they continue to look into ways of getting children interested in the game. Everyone should be focusing on them but offering more outlets with a very low cost. Why are they focusing on trying to expose adults to the game with silly ideas of bigger cups and power golf? There are too many factors and people’s lives are busier so it's unlikely they'll pick the game up.

geoff said...

The local club had Golf as a sports elective when in promary school, year 5 or 6 I think. Mother played a little and I started having occaisional hits with friends. Started playing in earnest after a MVA and the injuries made playing football no longer possible.

The Armchair Golfer said...

I've really enjoyed all your comments about how you came to golf.

Sarah said...

For me it started when I married a golfnut. I took a class in college and have been swinging ever since.