Vikram gets his first golf handicap

Vikram played his first kids comp couple of weeks ago. Hoebridge GC has Jr section comp which is played over 9 holes of our par-3 course. Kids from 6-10 and has handicap from 20 to 60. After that kids graduate to our ‘Challenger’ (Shey) course which has P3 and P4s.

He had a decent run and now has a well rounded ‘handicap’ of 40. He initially did not any concept of what a handicap is. While at the club, we were scanning the handicap list. We spotted his name with the 40 across it. he thought 40 is a very good score. So i had to tell him that in golf, lower is better. Pat came the reply, ‘this is too high, in the next competition, can we aim for 30’.. no clue where it came from or how realistic it is. We will see how it goes in the Nov comp.  I dont think too much about it and we will work with it as it comes..  For posterity sake, here is how the handicap list looked like

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Things I learnt from my first outing as Daddy Caddy..

At the advice of his coach, we let Vikram out on his first kids competition today (10th Oct 2015) so that he can get a ‘handicap’. Having just turned 6 (or 16 in his mind), he was looking fwd to this all week. Woke up this morning with a “I dont want to go because I am nervous!!” Quick pep talk and he was out of the door in no time for a 8:45 tee off.. (where do kids get the energy on a weekend).

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The club does kid comps every month for the under-10 kids in the academy. It is played over 9 holes on our Par 3 course. Everyone gets a ‘handicap’ and you can see how you progress. Anyways, my observations about what happened – (disclaimer: will have biases and assumptions)

  1. Kid golf is very stressful for the daddy caddy – esp if Daddy plays golf. Mummy’s are alright (esp if they dont play) because they are there to shepard the kid whereas Daddy is part-coach, part-crowd and part-player.
  2. Not all kids enjoy it and you can sense they are there for the parents. But kids they go thru the phases of loving it and loathing it… so cant judge on that.
  3. Kids learn from each other.. It was my son’s first outing, and he was watching the older kids and their parents speak. On the 7th, he was trying to say, ‘Get on the green’ to his ball and ‘thats bad luck’ to someone who missed the fairway!!!!.. So be careful of what you say at all times.
  4. The kids game is fairly reflective of the adult game. We had slow play in front of us (and a Dad in my group getting increasingly upset), all kit and no swing (kitted out in Galvins and nice clubs, but struggling), some counting errors (was that 6 or 7, lets say 6), mindgames (more from parents than kids), questionable rules interpretation (winter rules when not on fairway), inflated expectation of self (Me: Use a driver; Vikram: I can get there with a iron; then hits the driver and comes short)
  5. Prize giving can be heartbreaking. As it was our first outing, Vikram was not in contention – though he came fairly close to NTP. So when the prizes were given away, he nearly started crying. Life is tough son.. play better next time.
  6. Some kids are just natural… it is fab to watch them play

Overall a good outing and a great learning experience. It is a joy to watch the kids play and the happiness when they score. We had someone who chipped in from about 15y and he was over the moon. Vikram one putted on the last hole and nearly did a victory lap.

Vikram almost had a double bogie round. He shot a 47 over a par 27 course. So I think he will get a official handicap of about 40. He had one par and a couple of bogies and doubles with the rest exceed them. It was a very damp and a bit cold to start and I did not realise that he had a cut in his palm when he had fallen over at school on Friday.

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I must say I was tempted to intervene more, but stayed away. I did have to give him a line on his putt and tee up the ball for him. As he plays more, there will be a tendency to become the helicopter dad from hell.

Having said all that, I must say he was on the green in 1 or 2 on the short holes or 3 for the long ones. His clubs are not suitable for him, because scrooge daddy got him clubs that are too long and he has to choke down on them (Daddy says he will grow into them soon). His putting let him down.. It has improved, he is now aiming for that 2 putt, but gets a 3 putt. Had one 1 putt but no 4 putts.. so can only get better from here…

I have never seen him so focussed/obsessed in a game. He was on a different planet for some reason. During his lessons I have to remind him to take practice swings or check he ball position. Today none of that, suddenly he was doing his practice swing, checking his line and some sharp chipping. After the first 4 holes, I thought one of the Dads would call him a bandit!!!

So for all his efforts the Pro to give him a ‘prize’ for shooting his first par in a competition. The sleeve of Titelist is now resting next to the picture of Rory in his room…I also had to endure that conversation of how he wants to play the Ryder cup when he grows up (inflated view of self)..

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…. Being a kid is a great time to be.

Coach advice – The crocodile and giraffe..

More advice from the coach

At this early stage it more has to be about fun & see what engages him, the brain at this age is very malleable in it’s plasticity & kids generally learn quicker in a visual way, they are great copyists – just about gently encouraging them to look at ‘good’ examples for as long as the attention span allows – usually not so long – so best done in small chunks often – without any real judgement just ‘how did that feel’

A useful analogy for real young golfers I’ve used is an imaginary friendly croc & his friends the giraffe brothers…. in the takeaway/takeback the kid takes the club back low first, some ‘food’ on the clubhead to feed the friendly croc who leaves some on for one giraffe so the kid turns & gets the club to the top of the backswing to feed the giraffe, then if they swing through the ball ‘real good’ & upto the top there’s still some left for the giraffe’s brother, trick is saying you don’t have to ‘stop’ to feed they’ll get it okay as long as you swing low then to the top then through to a full finish so you don’t leave the 2nd giraffe hungry…..

To help Vikram understand to grip the club together >> On the hold of the handle it’s just gentle repeated encouragement to move the hands closer together – the more he can watch when he’s into it good swings the easier it will be as kids just naturally try to emulate what they see

any more detailed instruction is for a few years down the line – unless the kid concerned starts to get more interested & starts asking for more themselves.  Kids groups are great when they are young too so they can learn with others & have fun

Advice from the_coach #1

After Vikram started hitting his 100y drives, I reached out to the_coach for advice on how I can help Vikram. Here is the transcript.

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Had a quick look-see at the vid – good stuff he gets into a real nice position halfways down in his downswing !

I am not sure how old your boy is now – the main thing is too keep the whole thing fun –  & so any ‘teaching’ at a real young age should be real minimum in kinda technique terms sure it would be useful to get the hands closer together in ten finger butted up hold – but time can be taken to get there

Thing is at a young age even if the clubs are measured for size in terms of both shaft length & weight early on the driver is pretty near as tall as they are young kids just don’t have the arm or upper body strength to support this real good – so they ‘naturally’ work out they have to have soon spread between the hands to feel they have some control of the clubhead during the motion.  This is the reason, why most kids are lower body dominated in their swing motions until the mid teens – especially if they are slight in build

The other thing that kinda dictates the split hold & their natural motion – is often times (as seems with your boy) naturally their focus is very much the ball at this stage – so the effort & intention is put into the ‘hit’ at the ball, to move it, which is why there is no ‘follow through’ to a finish

A good ways to encourage this is getting them to watch some good swings that show that good ‘end’ position – & just asking them ‘hey do you think you can swing all the way like that’ you’ll often by surprised after a few goes at a practice swing no ball – they start to get through to a fuller finish – but remember at first nothing has to be exact don’t try to work to that they won’t get it – but the more they do it over time the better it goes short bursts to keep it fun & to match their concentration spans

If you still got your garage set-up at first get him to try this with the plastic balls – less resistance to the ‘hit’ swing so gradually it’s easier to get to that ‘remember that finish we looked at on the vid … can you do that you think…’ the other thing that would help in that set up is getting a full but ‘plastic’ mirror so he can swing without any ball towards the mirror & see himself at the end

Here’s a vid of Alicia she around 9&1/2 here – she started in small chunks having fun no great instruction but around just maybes over a year giving her some little ways more ‘instruction’ but nothing too heavy & working at her speed
driver swing here which she now hits 175 yds mostly straight

Just show him the vid – don’t tell him ‘she’s good’ or anything no judgement – just again ask an open question – you think you can swing something like this – probably take a few tries overtime with him over this maybes but should help some

you got any other Q’s with this just send no problem – let me know how he gets on – good stuff good to see the kids having fun enjoying it & wanting to get involved without any pressure. (excuse any typos – not got time to check over)

The 100 yard drive

On 25th Aug 2015, Vikram managed to get the ball near the 100y mark. As it was on the driving range, you can never be accurate about it. I am sure he was close to it rather than blitz it, but it was worth giving him the benefit of doubt – esp since he repeated it a few times.  I managed to film one of it… so here we go

More than the result, it was good to see him enjoy it..

Doing a Happy Gilmore

So a few days into our new ‘driving range’, Vikram figured it would be fun to run and hit it the ball, so he did that. I nearly died laughing, but did not stop him. Later in the day, I showed him clips of Happy Gilmore. This morning I filmed this..

I guess this is more difficult to do down at the range.

The garage driving range

Been trying to build a driving bay in the garage for a while. I had grand plans of hooking it up with an Optishot golf sim & projector etc and making it a mans cave. However it was turning out too expensive. Driving bay nets cost about 180-200 quid. So nearly gave up the idea. Last week came across sports netting on fleabay for 50 quid. The net is 10mX10mX10m and seems to be high quality fishing net.Received it yesterday and put it up… Voila we have a driving bay in the garage.

Second hand driving mat from club… Free
High quality net from fleabay.. £50
All season driving bay in the garage .. Priceless

 

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Now we have a place to swing the clubs without having to leave the house…. Yippee..