The Long Game

I’ve wanted Ava to love golf since she was a baby. But I wasn’t going to take the Earl Woods approach and make the choice for her.

Instead, I’ve created opportunities for her to explore the game, starting with a softie golf club before she could walk.

For her first birthday, I gave her a putter and we went to the golf course practice green to putt around. When she was three, she got a club and some soft rubber balls that we would hit in the front yard.

My goal hasn’t been to make Ava into a great golfer, but rather to plant some seeds and see if they blossom into a love for the game.

Some of those seeds have been occasional family outings to Top Golf or to play mini golf. Other times I’ve simply asked her if she wants to go to the driving range with me. Usually the answer is no, but sometimes it’s yes.

Ava has what it takes to get good at golf. She’s been in gymnastics for years and has a sense of movement and balance that would serve her well in learning the game.

She’s played two seasons of basketball on her school’s team, showing a competitive drive and desire for improvement. She complained that their practices weren’t hard enough and they should be running more drills.

Ava recently showed some renewed interest in golf, so I bought a few clubs on ebay (she’s grown a foot since the last time we bought clubs) and took her to the practice facility at Falconhead yesterday.

My goal was to create a fun experience, so I let her DJ the music on the ride to the course and choose our lunch spot afterward. The range has Toptracer screens, so you can see stats about your shots. She loved that and was pumped when she hit her driver over 100 yards.

Then we moved on to the practice green where she challenged me to a putting contest. It brought back memories of when I was learning to play golf, having chipping and putting contests my dad.

Golf wasn’t my dad’s passion, but he owned a set of clubs and when I showed interest in the game, he got me started on the right path – paying for lessons and making sure I had decent clubs. We would hit balls at the range together and play Par 3 or executive courses.

As my game progressed, my parents would come watch me play in tournaments or sometimes just ride along in the cart during my practice rounds.

I didn’t think much about generational connections back then, but as I reflect on this today, I treasure those memories and see a thread of love and support and shared experiences connecting my parents to me and now to Ava.

My parents were in town for Ava’s first birthday and came to the course for that first session on the putting green. It was a great day. But as happy as I was to be there in the moment, my feelings for that memory are far greater than I could have imagined.

Today’s my dad’s birthday. He would have been 82.

- Matt
Dad and Ava on her first birthday. November 2014.

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