While being a caddy for my 10 year old child golfer in kids tournaments, as I struggle at times with the effects of a bad shot, or I should say when “we” struggle with the effects of a bad shot, the hardest thing is to manage my inability to control the situation. Most times, no matter what I do or say, the tension, when it happens (and it doesn’t always happen), the tension escalates. And again no matter what I say I cannot steer him back to his golfing head. If I offer what caused the bad result, he takes it as criticism and gets mad at me. If I say good try, he get mad and says, “right Dad.” If I try to compliment something good about the shot, like tempo, or set up, or contact, even though it didn’t work, he still goes drama on me.
Now I know he is just being 10, you know what I’m talking about, and I love him and it’s okay, as a parent, and that’s why parent is the number one hat to wear out there. However, in the moment, we are in a golf tournament and I do need to wear the coach hat for that ten year old golfer too.
This inability to control his senseless diversion to dramatize the moment, is personally very frustrating. And I also, at the moment, must deal with that frustration of my own too, and not get mad at him for acting foolishly to the detriment of his game. Not all kids are the same, but I dare say a lot of kids at this age exhibit this behavior. It is hard and seems no matter what I say at the time, it only gets worse.
I observed over time in these situations that I seem to be a convenient scapegoat. No matter what I did or said, I was the target or a at least a partner in the drama. I think you know what I mean if you’ve been there. It’s just a ten year old drama/exaggeration thing.
So as a child golfer’s caddy, coach, parent, cheerleader, agent … I have to, at that moment, handle what he’s doing and thinking and what I’m feeling too. Yes, I get “mad” at him for go down that road with his thoughts.
The only thing I found that works is to tell him I need a break, nicely and without color, just, “hey, grab your cart for the next hole, I need a break.” Then let him do it all for a hole, or two. This is a good reason you should teach your kid golfer how to determine distance, golf club, and golf shot as soon as possible. Even at seven or eight you can do this, though this behavior didn’t really kick in until nine’ish.
Leaving your child golfer to manage a hole by themselves is the best way to “get them present” again. First, they are worried about you and why you need a break. That occupies their mind and flushes the drama. If that doesn’t do it, dealing with golf club selection and golf shot alignment, etc. will flush their mind of the dramatic diversion.
This makes them present again. Daddy Caddy can become a cruch and cause a sort of disconnect or buffer between your child golfer and their game. This took a while for me to notice, but it’s true, at least for my young golfer’s personality. I have mentioned this to other daddy caddies and they have tried it and confirmed both the observation and remedy.
Try it, even without a drama moment. Just pick a hole, take a break, and let them fully connect. When they “own” all of what they must do for a shot, you’ll see them have no choice but to focus in on it all and do a good job at it. Then compliment them. You may find it shouldn’t be a triangle with your child golfer, you, and the game … take one corner away and make it just your golfer and their game. This will help keep them present.