Why is golf a good game for children to adopt? Let me count the ways:
Etiquette - Golf requires manners and concern for others. To give opponents courtesy, compliments and all the freedom to do their best. To have concern for the environment in which they play, replacing divots, fixing ball marks, spike marks, etc. To rake sand traps so the players behind them have a better opportunity. To stand still, being polite and quiet when others are playing their shots. To make an effort to be out of eyesight for others.
Rules - In golf, generally there is no referee, monitor, etc. The game requires a player to monitor his or her own adherence to the rules - because the real measure of one's morality is what they would do if they knew they wouldn't be found out.
They see on television all the time that PGA players are calling penalties on themselves. I never saw in baseball, for example, a player running to first and, after hearing the pop of the ball in the first baseman's glove, beat his foot to the bag and being called safe, say to the umpire, "Sorry - the throw beat me. I was out." Or in football: "Hey ref, you didn't see where I was holding. I need a 10-yard penalty."
But the spirit of this wonderful game demands just that. Kids will come to learn that this is the way to gain respect from others and themselves. To play by the rules! After all, isn't that the message we want them to learn?
Dress codes - Golf courses have dress codes that don't allow inappropriate clothing. Children tend to follow their peers. Wouldn't it be nice if their peers dressed sensibly?
Competition - In golf, the biggest competition is against one's self or to do better than one did before. This is true even in tournament play, because in golf, one has no control over how opponents will do; the onus is on themselves.
A player drops his ball under the rules and it rolls against his glove that was used to mark his original position. Ruling?
Answer to last column's teaser:
A player's ball comes to rest against a divot that is not completely attached. He may remove it or replace it before playing his next shot. True or false? False.
John Lucas is the professional at SkyRidge Golf Course. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.