It’s been a trying time over the last few months. Of course, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic. Really, that could have gone without saying. It’s been a real downer for everyone. Golfers, boaters, and of course our healthcare workers who’ve had an extremely heavy stress load forced upon them. The doctors, nurses, and lab technicians. All of them, legitimate, bonafide heroes who should be making the money that professional athletes make. But I digress.
Now, we have “Murder Hornets” too! is that, it’s only May! Now that I pause and think about it, 2020, you really suck!
Anyways, it’s amazing what light can come out of a situation like we’ve all been facing. As many people that have been infected and unfortunately passed away worldwide from COVID-19, there are also those that have beaten the infection and recovered. One day, we’ll win this war, and THAT to me is a light at the end of the tunnel. Speaking of rays of light in a dark time, I want to talk about my son Alex.
My son, Alex, is a great kid or shall I say, young man. He’s a gentle soul, very respectful, and I guess that I should mention for the purposes of this story that he’s on the “spectrum”. Alex has Autism and in particular, he has Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s very comfortable in his “bubble” that is his bedroom. He has a bit of a social disorder because of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Because of this, he keeps to himself in his room and like most youth or young adults nowadays, Alex is heavily immersed in the life of electronics and video games.
Well, yesterday, he surprised me and gave me a real “Proud Papa” moment.
Upon arriving home, after driving my wife (Crystal) home from work, I walked my Labrador Retriever (Muskoka). After the walk, I walked in the door and went to my bedroom and looked out my window. Lo and behold, who’s outside on the UTNT Practice Centre for Deprived Golfers? Alex! I mentioned to Crystal that he was out there, and my wife assumed that it was me because she heard the sound of a golf ball being struck by a club. So, in an instant, out the door, I go, with no shoes on my feet and I start watching him.
In the past, I have introduced Alex to golf, fishing, and fly fishing. Criticize me if you like but, I’ve never been the kind of parent that “force-feeds” their kids to do anything. I’ve always been of the ilk to let them decide to choose and like what they do (within reason). Alex was first introduced to golf at about age 5. Since, he’s been on a driving range a smattering of times (like in 2014 on a trip to Ottawa/Quebec), played in a 4-Person Scramble with me in Maine (2015), and worked at a golf course (2016). That’s it! So for all intents and purposes, he’s a newcomer to the game and a new golfer. Looking back at pictures of the past, perhaps it was I that dropped the ball by not approaching him. For that, I’m sorry son.
As I’m outside observing him, he’s trying to figure things out on his own and I just let him go. After a few minutes, I offered him a couple of quick tips. But first, I tried him with a couple of different irons from a couple of sets. He was trying to use my one old set, which was too long for him so I put him into another set that’s closer to standard length. Next, I examined the “Fundamental Four” as I call them.
- Ball Position
- Addressing the Ball (which ties into BP)
Having examined that, I moved on to a couple of other things. He was making two common mistakes that many seasoned golfers make. He was “flipping” at impact and he was “picking up the club” as opposed to making a “turn”. So we focused on his bottom hand (wrist angle) and the turn. Taking baby steps, I had Alex make only 1/4 to 1/2 to get him started resulting in him showing signs of instant improvement. And then I thought, let’s try one other club since he was using a muscleback.
I went to my bag with some of my tested equipment and pulled out the 699 9-iron that I received from SUB 70 Golf for review last year. He made a swing and my eyes bulged out of my head. Suddenly, he was making crisp contact at a 4 out of 5 clip. My excitement level was peaked!! Even my speech sped up while explaining things to him. My feet were wet from standing on the wet carpet and grass (mud) so finally as a chill cut through me, I succumbed and went back into the apartment while Alex remained outside and continued to work.
Some time passed and he wrapped things up for the night. There was a twinkle, no, a spark in his eyes. He was happy and excited. He then said something that I never thought I would hear. First, he asked “Dad, is 7 am too early to hit golf balls?” to which I said yes, out of respect for our neighbours. Then he informed me that instead of playing video games tomorrow, he was going to go into the backyard and hit golf balls. I was literally beaming all night.
As bad as this pandemic has been, there’s just a glimmer of positivity. The pandemic and the consequential lockdown have seemingly created a new golfer. My son!
Until The Next Tee!!