“Normal” mommies went to the park with their babies but I WENT TO THE GOLF COURSE.
And why not? It was great being outdoors. The sun, the trees, the birds… Oh yeah, and that little white thing on the ground. Bringing your child to the course teaches you mental strength during golf for sure. Not only are you likely to learn how to manage your temper really quickly, you will also regularly hear MOMMY shouted at you while at the top of your backswing. I think I have played more holes with my sub 3 year old beside me than I have without. I became somewhat of an expert on getting out to play with my little one. And it sure beats hiring a babysitter. So here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it. I was able to leave my house at 9am, drive 20 minutes, play 9 holes, and have him back home by noon for naptime. Sure you’ll be nervous the first time, wondering gif the baby will have a meltdown or blowout diaper, or if the guys are going to look at you funny. My advice? Make it about you and the baby and enjoying this wonderful game you love together. Even when you’re home with your child you have to do things to keep them entertained and occupied. It’s the same on the course, keep them busy, keep things moving.
Safety First! A golf cart is a MUST HAVE when they are very young. Therefore you must have a way of securing your little one in there. I used a portable high chair (see picture below) which works great as long as they can sit up by themselves. They cost around $20 at Walmart. You have to physical strap the high chair to the cart before putting them in it otherwise it won’t stay put. Also, be sure to read my Safety Post.
Pre-Round: Pack a bunch of your baby’s favorite snacks, toys, and games. Have at least 10 different toys. Be sure the golf club you’re going to has no problem with young children being on the course. Most are fine with it; many people want to share the game with their children and grandchildren. Pick a quiet time of day; ideally there is no one on the hole before you or behind you. The late morning on a weekday, if you can swing it, often works. You don’t want to feel rushed and you definitely don’t want a crowded course with balls flying everywhere.
Hole #1: Give your baby a favorite toy or, better yet, a bottle or some juice. The first hole sets the tone for the round, so after you have stretched and warmed up as much as possible, you want to put them in a good mood as you go into your pre-shot routine. I simply made finding a suitable toy part of my pre-shot routine. Keep smiling; if you’re happy she’s happy. *As per the Safety Post never, ever, ever, place the golf cart even slightly in front of you and be absolutely sure there is enough clearance on the follow through. I almost made this mistake the first time I played – there has to be plenty of room in the rear if you park the cart behind you.*
Hole #2: The little one may be taking in the scenery or if you’ve done this before they could already be bored with the first toy. Before teeing off give her a new toy to hold her interest for that shot and the next one. Keep calm and play on.
Hole #3: Toys that do more than one thing, such as play music and spin wheels tend to work best. Your job is to be about your business and play at a decent clip while keeping her occupied. Toys that flash lights don’t do well in the outside but books are great. *Trick of the trade: Never bring out all the toys at once. Just give them one or two at a time or else they become bored with all of them really quickly and you have nothing left to hold their attention.*
Hole #4: Your tot or baby may be getting a little antsy by now; the glory of being outside in the fresh air wearing off a bit. At the rate of 7-10 minutes per hole you should be able to complete your round in just under an hour and a half. Juice boxes work great mid-round.
Hole #5: Par 5’s take a bit longer to play as do holes that have trouble on them. My advice to you is to have the best snacks or drinks on these holes in order to hold their attention the most so that you can focus on your game. You’re likely to already be annoyed if you hit it out of bounds or don’t make the green in 3. Them screaming to you will only make you frazzled. Per the usual routine give it to just before going into your pre-shot routine. *It’s always helpful to have a bunch of wet wipes and spare clothes. You want to keep them clean and happy and tend to their needs whenever you have to.
Hole #6: Give her a new toy before teeing off. Keeping things moving is the key to keep babies interested. You will find that she actually likes to watch you play. When they get old enough they will praise you on almost every shot and will begin to mimic you as well.
Hole #7: At this point you have been on the course for about an hour. Your baby may be perfectly happy to continue or you may decide to cut it short. Go with the flow, let them decide how you should roll. *Perspective: This is what you love to do. Most people don’t have the luxury to play golf or to bring their children with them to share a passion. It’s a celebration, not a something unfair you make your child do. Where would golf be if Tiger’s Dad Earl had not sat Tiger in a highchair to watch hours and hours of practice and then taken him to the course at such a young age?*
Hole #8: Your baby girl may be a bit whiney by now. Riding in a cart is all good and great, even better than in a stroller. My baby was always ready to do something different after about an hour and yours may be too. I always saved the best toys for last.
Hole #9: Give your baby a brand new toy before your final tee shot. You can start packing up and more than likely you have cycled through a bunch of different toys and games. There is no rule as to how many to use but my baby was finicky so one toy per hole plus snacks worked for me.
Bringing your child to the course and exposing them to the course at such a young age will only help their golf game. Human infant data using eye-tracking measures suggest that the mirror neuron system develops before 12 months of age, and that this system may help human infants understand other people's actions. (See: Nature Neuroscience, 9 (2006)). Your baby can actually learn how to swing a golf club simply by watching you when they are so young. Let’s face it. The park with all the regular mommies is nice. But it doesn’t have any golf greens and there is not much for adults to do. Kids just want to be outside, and it is better for them than the television, so if you’re going to spend 1 - 2 hours in the sun, why not go to the golf course?