Ok, here we go, let’s tackle this subject and get the elephant out of the room.
As anyone who has a daughter (or son) who plays golf, we ALL know that junior golf tournaments can bring out all sorts of crazy stuff. During a tournament where I serve on the board, we had two adults take swings at each other in the middle of their daughters’ round. During my junior golf days, I watched a dad pick his daughter’s golf bag over his head and throw it. I have watched parents walk off the golf course, slam chairs and umbrellas, yell at their daughters, not congratulate other players, make false accusations, argue with the tournament staff and volunteers, and the list goes on.
While parents do often get a bad rap, I have also watched parents put their arms around their daughter as they walk to the parking lot, hug her when she walks out of the scoring tent, tell her to keep her head up after a bad hole, clap for every girl in the group, congratulate the winners, and go out of their way to thank the staff and volunteers. So while the negative side to parents at golf tournaments may get talked about more, there are some great moments that take place between a parent and child that should be recognized and remembered. Those are the memories for me personally that I will always cherish about having both of my parents at nearly every junior and college tourney, and numerous professional events as well.
Don’t get me wrong, while I may not have a son or daughter that I watch play golf, I do feel like a mom and big sister to many of the girls that I consult and I know how tough it is to watch them struggle on the course. To watch them make what seems like really dumb mistakes. To do things they “should know better than to do”. To watch them get down in the dumps about a bad hole. To watch them miss short putts or hit it OB. To watch them make the same decisions over and over again without stopping to think differently.
Trust me, I know it can be painful, frustrating, and sometimes infuriating to have to sit and watch it all unfold, feeling helpless while she struggles.
But in my personal opinion, a girl should never be made to feel judged based on her golf scores or be embarrassed by her parent’s behavior on the golf course.
Yes, as with all sports, golf is a vehicle for a young lady to learn mental toughness, work ethic, competitiveness, and grit. Many other athletes their age are playing sports in high school and club ball where they are getting yelled at and reprimanded when they make mistakes on the field or court by their coach. I played volleyball and basketball in middle and high school and certainly had my share of those moments.
But golf is much different in that you rarely have your coach with you in competition, you don’t have teammates, and it’s not exactly the type of “get in your face” sport like many others. So while it’s important to use teachable moments in golf to help your daughter develop into a better student-athlete, it also super important to remember you are there as your daughter’s mom and dad, not their coach. If they feel like they aren’t loved as much because they played bad that day, or that they upset, disappointed, or let you down simply because of a bad round (or even a bad hole in the middle of the round where parents will walk off the golf course) then those moments can play such a negative role in not just their confidence on their golf course, but also in their self-esteem and love for this awesome game.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, yes, please use golf as a way to teach qualities that these young girls are going to need down the road, but try to keep those teachable moments tied into effort with the process and how their work ethic matches up to their goals, not their score or tournament finishes. Especially in the moment when it’s raw and fresh coming off a bad hole or bad round and they are already upset and disappointed with themselves.
Because, at the end of the day, it is just a game and they need your support and love as a parent above anything else.
And that is just my two cents!
Hi! I am Brandi Jackson, a college recruiting consultant for my companies Brandi Jackson Golf and This Girl Loves Golf and as a partner of the PKB Girls Tour. Through these avenues, I provide the guidance, resources, connections, and solutions for female golfers all over the world to help them find the right college golf fit. I am a Furman University golf alum and former LPGA player, and I have been working in the college recruiting world for over 9 years.