Yesterday was a pretty awesome day and not just because it was Mothers Day. Yesterday for my family was special because my oldest daughter Emma played in her first ever US Kids Golf Tournament.
This was such a new experience for the both of us and let me tell you, going through it for the first time was a tremendous learning experience to say the least. The entire event was put on very well by the Las Vegas Local Tour of the US Kids Golf and I certainly see more tournament dates in the future for Emma.
Even though she didn’t play up to her capabilities she still had a great time and played her little butt off trying to keep up with the higher skill level players in her group. The amount of talent I saw yesterday coming out of some of these little kids was spectacular and a few times I was awestruck at what was taking place, like I said earlier, a huge learning experience.
The course we played was the Boulder City Golf Course. I was glad this was going to be the location for her first tournament because it’s a nice easy layout that she should have been able to make her way around without getting into too much trouble.
The course was set up for her age group, Girls 8-9, to be played from 1500 yards. They played 9 holes of stroke play and there were a total of eight girls in the group. I have to give a hand to Paul Brown who runs the Vegas Local Tour for US Kids Golf. He knew there were two girls in our threesome that were first time attendees and he did a fantastic job making sure that the kids and the parent/caddies understood what was going on.
Emma isn’t a long hitter by any means. He dainty little frame doesn’t generate a ton of power for her age but what she has always been able to do is hit the ball straight off the tee. Unfortunately yesterday that is where the majority of her game wasn’t with her. She struggled a lot with her tee shot and that really put the brakes on her scoring well. The good news was even though she was in some bad spots off the tee she did a great job hitting those shots from some pretty nasty spots.
When my wife and I asked her after the round what she liked and didn’t like about playing the tournament she said “You know where the grass is that’s on the outside of the fairway, that long grass that looks like it needs to be mowed? I didn’t like hitting out of that stuff, it was hard and my club didn’t cooperate with me.” I had to chuckle, it was funny hearing her describe the rough and how didn’t like hitting from it. Even though she did great from it she still didn’t like it.
I think one of the biggest lessons I learned was patience and also that I need to work on my communication with Emma better so we’re both on the same page when it comes to each swing. Too many times I let her go into a shot without helping her assess the situation better. An example that comes to mind is something simple like telling her this shot requires a full big swing. On one of the par 3’s that played about 65 yards she used a 7iron (her lowest lofted iron) and she took a half swing with it. When I asked her why she didn’t swing normal she told me “look how close it is, I didn’t want to hit it over.” Again, another part of the huge learning curve.
All in all though I’m very happy with how Emma played. She ended up shooting a 66 which considering all the elements (the wind was a constant 15-20mph) and that this was her very first outing in a tournament setting I’m actually pleased with how she did. Most importantly and above everything else she had fun and I didn’t lose my cool! Ha!
Now we get to focus our golfing attention towards the PGA Junior League Golf team she is on. This is where I really wanted her to start off but after getting rejected from three clubs that are going to have Jr. League teams because Emma lacked “Tournament” experience I enrolled her in US Kids Golf. I figured the only way to get experience was to get her our playing and with it looking like she wasn’t going to be accepted on a Jr. League team I figured playing tournament golf vs. not playing at all would at least get her some time out on the course and help her grow a little.
Lucky for her the Boulder Creek Golf Club was looking for some players for their team and contacted me in what seemed like immediately after I hit the registration confirmation button on the US Kids website. Emma has already had one practice with her new team and the season officially kicks off later this month.
So far I’ve been real impressed with Andy the head Pro out at Boulder Creek who is coaching the team. He has made it clear to all the parents that his goal for this first year to get the kids to fully understand the game and how it is supposed to played. That was nice to hear considering all I heard from the other clubs was “Sorry, we’re looking for tournament caliber players only.” I guess stacking the deck on a new league that is supposed to be there to help introduce the game of golf to kids that new to the game isn’t for everyone. OK, that’s enough ranting on the subject; needless to say my blood was boiling when Emma was turned down several times. But now she has a team and cannot wait to play.
It goes without saying I’m an incredibly proud papa. It was so much fun spending the day out on the course with my daughter watching her compete in her first ever tournament. It’s a memory I’ll cherish for the rest of my life for sure!