In the lead up to Parents in sports week I started to think of the impact that my own parents had in my own sporting experience and in particular golf. Neither of my parents are currently involved in sports, yet they have taught me some of the best life lessons through my golfing journey.
Growing up playing mainly gaelic and soccer, I never experienced the pushy parents that many kids now face. Parents shouting and roaring from the side-lines at not just the ref but us kids as well. I was twelve or thirteen at the time, and this had been happening at every match for years, and I just remember thinking if they wanted something done, they should just come out here and do it themselves, otherwise stop shouting.
I never had my parents shouting and roaring from the side-lines at the ref for an unfair call or telling me what to do, it’s not because they didn’t care it just wasn’t who they were and it wouldn’t have made a difference whether they shouted or not. They sat back quietly and supported the team and whatever happened at the end of the day happened.
The shouting didn’t make us any better and it certainly didn’t make the game any more fun. Ultimately, I stopped playing football and I put all my time and effort into golf as it was a sport that I could control and no one would be shouting from the side-lines. I started golf because my dad and brothers did, and I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. I still play because I enjoy the game and that’s the most important lesson my parents taught me. If you’re not having fun, then it’s not worth it. If anything costs you your happiness, then it’s too expensive.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
After a few years of playing in my home club I started to play in different events. My mum was the main person to taxi me around all four corners of the country. My mum didn’t play golf and actually grew up hating the game because her older brother used to drag her out on the golf course for hours on end just watching him play.
I expected a lot from myself when I was younger and didn’t know how to control my emotions after a bad day on the golf course. I was never the kid who threw golf clubs on the course but when I’d come in off the course after a bad round I would be in a bad mood and not want to talk and I’d swear I’d never play again. But when I played well, I couldn’t be happier and golf was suddenly the best thing in the world again.
When I came off the golf course my mum never asked me how I played or what I shot, she’d always ask me if I enjoyed myself. I always wondered why she never asked me my score. Did she not care? Could she already tell that I played bad? My mum is not a golfer and at the start didn’t really understand the difference between a birdie and a bogey. I soon realised that she didn’t ask me about my score, not because she didn’t care but because there is more to golf than just a number. She was happy to see me out doing something that I loved and making new friends. I was treated the same whether I had the worst day or the best day out on the golf course.
I learned to appreciate how lucky I am to be able to play this wonderful yet somewhat frustrating game and that I can learn from my bad days and work harder towards my goals. I began to accept that there will be bad days and good days and that you just have to learn to roll with the punches. This valuable lesson that my mum has taught me and is as true in life as is on the golf course. On the golf course you can’t take yourself too seriously, there will be ups and downs, but at the end of the day we’re all in it for the journey, and the same can be said about life.
My dad is not a sports person, he’ll play golf occasionally for fun but that’s about the height of it. My dad is always early for everything, never late, never on time always early! He always gives himself enough time to get somewhere in case he ever gets a flat tyre that he will still arrive on time for something. Whenever he use to drop me down to the golf club on a Sunday morning he would always drop me down at least 20 minutes before I needed to be there so that I would have time to sign in and take a few putts and never have to rush onto the first tee. This is something that I have taken with me through all stages of life. Starting out on the golf course and being able to manage and make the most of my time while studying and now in working life. Being on time costs nothing and is an important lesson that my dad has taught me through golf.
As a hobby, golf is something that should be enjoyed and not stressful. This is a valuable lesson that my mum taught me especially in my exam years in school. I remember being at a school’s golf competition and one of the other parents asked my mum if she was going to let me keep playing during my junior cert year. My mum responded by telling her I was already in Junior Cert and that why would she stop me doing something that I loved and helped me to relax just because of exams. She taught me that it is important to have that balance between studying and relaxing and clearing my head by playing a few holes in the evening. Golf is a great sport to be able to go out in the evening for a few holes after work and get some fresh air.
Finally even though my parents are not golfers they have always been so supportive of my journey and have taught me these valuable life lessons that will stand by me in everyday life.