What is my role as a parent?
This is one of the most frequently discussed and most delicate aspects of a young golfer’s development. The parent’s role is super important as an integral part of the overall performance team. I have to emphasize that last part: as an integral part of the overall performance team.
All too often, we see incidents where the parent’s perspective or involvement, often inadvertently, becomes unhealthy and actually counter-productive to the young player’s development. We, as a sport, may be somewhat to blame for this, simply because of the unique nature of golf. In other sports, the child is taken to a practice or a game or a tournament where the coach is always present. In golf, the child is taken for a lesson or practice session, but seldom is their coach present when they are in a competition, particularly in the early stages of their development. This is not an invitation for parents to step in as pseudo-coaches; rather, it is an opportunity for the young golfer to develop decision-making skills and a sense of independence.
My best advice for parents who may be on the verge of becoming overly involved is to take a step back and ask themselves what is best for their child. That is the best indicator, in my opinion.
A couple of years ago, we produced a publication called The Role of Parents and Coaches.
In it, we summarized the following vital contributions of a parent/guardian to the healthy development of young golfers. To provide each child with unconditional love regardless of their golf performance; to provide appropriate food, clothing, and shelter to the best of your ability; to communicate with coaches and golf officials as necessary; to have a discussion with the child to find out exactly how they want you to act as a golf parent; to interact with each child as a human being, not a golfer; to support and encourage coaches, local PGA of Canada professionals, personal coaches and golf officials.
In general, your role as a parent is to love, support and reward your child. Don’t judge, don’t coach, don’t live vicariously through your child. Golf is tough enough already!