Derek Sprague, PGA, President, PGA of America
General Manager and Director of Golf at Malone Golf Club, Malone, N.Y.
On the third Sunday in June each year, families across the globe celebrate dads and spend quality time together for Father’s Day. Are you looking for an active, healthy family activity that allows you to spend unhurried time together that you can enjoy for years to come? Consider golf.
My father (along with my mother) introduced me to golf at an early age. My father inspired me to practice and play as much as I could, and encouraged me to spend as much time with other adults who played better than he did, as a way to improve my game. However, the biggest lesson he taught me about the game was sportsmanship. It didn’t matter how well I played, but how I acted, whether I was having a good day or bad day. He taught me to be respectful.
Today, I enjoy teaching my two children and other young people about sportsmanship. One of the first lessons I taught my son was to take your hat off when entering the clubhouse. Another lesson I teach my kids is to look people in the eye after the end of a round, thank them for playing, and say something kind about their round. These kinds of lessons will go farther than any golf ball and apply to all areas of growing up and maturation. Whether it’s showing respect, acting polite or offering support and encouragement, golf is an excellent way to develop lifelong habits.
As members of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, we believe in its Together Counts™ program that inspires active, healthy lifestyles (see more at: http://www.togethercounts.com), and how golf can play a part in family health. Golf is an excellent way to create lasting family traditions. A father and daughter may play nine holes of golf each Father’s Day, or an entire family could have a golf outing followed by a dinner together. A day on the course is a time well spent together, celebrating the good shots and laughing off the bad ones, ultimately making lasting memories together as a family.
As parents, we strive to instill certain values in our children, sharing wisdom passed down from generations before us. Golf is a game that teaches honesty, sportsmanship, etiquette, respect, hard work and other life lessons to kids.
Want to get your kids started early? PGA Junior League Golf is a great way to introduce boys and girls ages 13 and under to a game they can continue playing into adulthood. Kids learn the game under the instruction of PGA/LPGA Professionals, play on teams with their friends and wear numbered jerseys, much like other league sports. Parents can also play an active role, helping make the game a family activity.
Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy is a prime example of a golfer who started young. Rory’s father, Gerry, introduced him to golf when he could barely walk. Rory experienced the value in exposure to the game at an early age and now lends his support to PGA Junior League Golf by serving as an Official Ambassador. Rory’s enthusiastic support resonates with kids, giving them someone to aspire to be like one day.
This Father’s Day, consider the many benefits of getting involved in the game of golf as a family. It’s as simple as taking a trip to the course or driving range, and a great way for the whole family to spend quality time together.
Through the game of golf, exciting memories can be made and skills learned for a lifetime. So, give it a try – after all, you never know how you may inspire your children, on or off the course.
Be sure to visit www.playgolfamerica.com to find your nearest PGA Professional hosting golf programs in your area.
PGA of America President Derek Sprague is the General Manager and Director of Golf at Malone (N.Y.) Golf Club. He was formally elected as the PGA’s 39th President on Nov. 22, 2014.
Derek and his wife, Jennifer, live in Malone, New York and are the parents of a daughter, Alexandra; and a son, Davis.
For more fun family outing ideas hop on over to these other family friendly resources from Together Counts!