Millions of people will be watching the Master’s Championship this weekend, many of them parents with their children at their side. It’s the type of moment that can inspire children to take up a sport that becomes a lifelong aspiration or pursuit. It’s also the type of moment that can inspire parents to introduce their children to a sport, perhaps with visions of their child becoming the next prodigy.
Jason Day is currently the number one ranked player in the world, and among the favorites to win the legendary “green jacket” awarded to the champion of the major tournament each year. The defending PGA Tournament champion spoke with Golf Digest earlier in the year about how to get young children involved in sports.
Day is the father of a four year-old named Dash who has already shown a fondness for the game. Stressing the importance of not being overbearing in attempting to steer children’s interest, Day provided an interesting perspective and great insight for parents.
“I was kind of pushed into golf as a kid, so I vowed never to do that with my son. My rule is, Dash has to ask me to go to the range,” said Day. He emphasized that as part of being a professional golfer, the game is very present in his son’s world. Their family travels to most tournaments in an RV which becomes “home” during the season, often times parked on or near the golf course hosting the event.
Day said that his son was a year old when he learned to walk, which was also around the same time he got his first plastic golf club. The young father had the occupational hazard of observing the typical poor form of a one year old golfer, joking about the tough time he had watching him storm around swinging the club one-handed. He said that Dash began using two hands around the age of 18 months, gripping the club like a hockey stick with two hands apart, which Day thought was “correct enough and just let him have at it.”
Many parents can probably relate to that. Few can probably relate to having their sponsors show up with custom made professional grade toddler size golf clubs as an early second birthday present as was the case with Day and TaylorMade. It wasn’t long before Dash was running around saying “hit balls, hit balls!” Day described being concerned that he’d be too technical in attempting to give instructions.
“For now, I just do my best to make it fun,” said Day. “If that ever stops being enough and Dash wants to play golf to win, that desire will have to come from within. Not from me.”
Patience, Fundamentals, and Kid Drills
During the interview, Jason Day goes on to give some incredible tips for parents on being patient and providing the right kind of instruction through fundamental insights and drills. He also addresses perhaps the most universally relatable part of golf… tantrums.