quick coaching

Getting Your Family Out on the Course

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Kody Tokishi and Kyle Tokishi high five during the 2020 PGA Family Cup at Augusta Ranch Golf Club.PGA of America

The success of family activities starts with everyone having a good time. That sounds easy enough, but with multiple generations involved, different members of your family will have varying opinions on what “fun” is when it comes to the same activity. Your spouse wants to go for a walk, the kids want to play and all you want to do is sit and read a book.
Now imagine everyone’s expectations when it comes to playing golf. Creating a positive family golf experience starts at home. Not figuratively, but literally! If you are looking to bring your remaining family members out to play, the best course of action is to start with a thoughtful conversation before you leave.
Begin by asking everyone what they like most about golf.
Find out what drives their enjoyment. You may like to compete and keep score while your son and daughter might just want to hit driver off a tee on every shot. Both are great ways to enjoy the game if that person is having a good time. Too many instances our expectations limit our ability to see an activity through another’s lens.
By starting with a straightforward query, you can learn so much about what each family member enjoys about the game. The kids like the halfway house, driving the cart and hitting balls on the practice range. Your spouse enjoys the time on the patio afterward to unwind from work and you like to walk and always try and beat your personal best. If you try to just accommodate one person in this scenario, the trip is destined to fail.
Look for ways to create a collaborative experience.
You usually walk when you play, this time take a cart. The kids aren’t concerned with score, so have them play a scramble with your spouse while you play for score. Go play first, and after the golf have the kids hit balls while you enjoy some spouse time on the patio. If each family member feels a reward, then the trip was a success.
For some, this trip I just described is the goal. If you’re just looking to plan your first family trip, as a PGA Coach and father my best advice is to start small. Once again prepare your planning for the activity at home. This time begin with a conversation about time. Get everyone’s expectation on how much time they are willing to commit. Nobody likes an activity they think might never end.
Find a length of time compromise and keep it on the low end.
Ensure there’s a small reward for everyone who comes as well. A quick trip to the practice range or better yet TopGolf can really get the group in a positive mindset to play more. You don’t have to play 18 holes over 4 hours to be a golfer. Most kids will consider themselves a golfer once they strike the ball never having played a hole.
A local range or entertainment golf facility won’t have a dress code. Family members won’t feel anxious to go and try. Think back to the first time you played. Was there anything about that experience you wish you could change? Start your family golf journey with a similar open-minded perspective. Be considerate and explain the different options.
With a smart, thoughtful approach your family will continue getting more involved in the game. You will find yourself playing more often and maybe even planning a golf vacation in a couple years. Golf is the game of a lifetime, take your time and enjoy each experience. Pretty soon you might not be the first one who asks to head to the course!