Carrie Boretz
Thursday, October 01, 2009

Q Is your kid's A-game really a C-minus?

A If, by his early teens, he can't shoot in the 70s on his home course, he might not be prime-time material. Most top juniors at that age can go low on tough courses set up for tournament play.

Q Is it worth investing big money in golf instruction in the hopes of a college scholarship?

A Not if you measure it in dollars alone. The payback from a full ride is far less than your investment in travel, training and tournament entry fees.

Q Can you handle the truth?

A The truth is the commitment is also going to cost you time. If you're traveling to tournaments with your kid, there go your relaxing weekends at home, and plenty of your vacations days, too.

Q Are you living through your child?

A If you fume when he makes bogey or fuss when he finishes in second place, you might need to rethink what you're in this for.

Q Is this really what your kid wants?

A If you can't answer this, you're not paying close enough attention.

USE YOUR HEAD

If golf is 90 percent mental ... so is raising a golfer. Follow these three rules:

1. Accept your differences

Don't assume your child will share your passion for the game. And if he doesn't, know when to lay off the gas. "You can't paint every kid with the same brush," says Joel Fish, author of 101 Ways to Be a Terrific Sports Parent. "They have different personalities, different interests. Knowing your child is the first step."

2. Encourage them to play several sports

Ninth grade is the earliest a child should focus just on one sport. "Specialization in kids' sports is a relatively new model," Fish says. "But if you look at pro golf, there's no real proof that this model works. If anything there's more evidence that if your child starts specializing too early, he'll lose zeal for the sport."

3. Define success broadly

"It's easy for a parent to buy into the notion that success equals winning," Fish says. "But a parent can also help define success in a variety of ways. 'Did you give your best effort?' 'Did you have fun?' The classic questions. The final question can be: 'So, what did you shoot?'"

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