By Michael Burcin, UP Consulting

There is a recent argument of have kids changed, parents parenting style is not the same, or has society in general affected how kids and parents both fill their stereotypical roles?  I will let you argue that case, but there are things to remember when being a supportive golf parent whether in the junior arena or preparing to enter the world of college golf.

As a sports parent myself, we all want our kids to work hard, be successful, and be respectful of others.  What I see now in a sport we are involved in and as a 20 year vet of collegiate and junior golf is the parental want for successful kids ends up often being a hindrance to that same success and their personal growth.  At some point many cross that line where a mix of coddling, not allowing their kids to experience adversity, and overreacting to losing at the expense of their young athlete.  What does a healthy parental, young athlete look like….or more appropriately not look like you ask?  I have a few tell tale signs that we all have seen.

Coddling….It could be the carrying of the bag from car to range, from range to putting green, having sandwiches on command, or being the punching bag for a disappoint round. As a coach who saw many succeed and fail when they begin their collegiate careers, the most successful did not have everything done for them.  Those kids were often allowed to figure things out on their own, their parents often would not watch every waking hole of a practice round, and may not even talk golf in the car on the way home.  Give our kids some space….Let them carry their food in their bag, allow them their own space on the course, and do not rehash a bad round immediately upon getting in the car.  They know they did not play well!

“If you do not have a discussion with your parent about their behavior, I will and that is going to very uncomfortable for you”.  This was my response to players when their parents reactions or behaviors when watching golf began to be counter productive.  The shaking of the head, grabbing of the hat, stomp of the foot on the path, or a pep talk after we know they missed that 3 footer on purpose, is not productive…I promise.  I see it now in my our childs sport and it is common in golf…I will show you a golfer that struggles handling adversity and I will show you that same golfer who is constantly looking towards the cart path or the bleachers after either a positive or negative result.  To a coach upon seeing that particular behavior in recruiting, that will likely make that coach to keep walking and cross that family off their short list.

The most successful family relationships with sport all seem to have two constants in common.  There is a clear undertone and behavior to match that the success level in sport is never more important to the family then the athlete.  Anytime behavior or dialogue suggests something different, there will be problems.  Lastly, that same sport and their level of success, cannot be topic #1 on the ride home or at the dinner table.  Being a good teammate, giving 100% consistent commitment, and being respectful of the coaches decisions are much more impactful in the long run of life and will make a more enjoyable junior and collegiate golf experience.