Golf is not as widely of a played sport as football or basketball, especially among African Americans. But when it came to putting Drew into a sport that we knew he could thrive in, golf honestly never once crossed our minds. It was randomly suggested by someone I barely knew, while my son was playing baseball. Although he was good at baseball, it was hard for him. Coupled with autism, baseball seemed to not be the right fit for him. Nor was soccer, basketball or even football. (At least we tried right?)
Using Golf to Treat ADHD
Like most ADHD children, Andrew has a hard time focusing, his organization skills are terrible and sometimes these issues would send him into an emotional tailspin. He was a good student before golf, but since starting the game, he is practically a straight A student (with his only B’s being in Art, Music, & P.E.-go figure).
He started medication for his ADHD when he was 5 years old. Needless to say, I didn’t like the side effects that came with it. After hearing about how golf may help him control his ADHD naturally, I started looking for programs. I can honestly say, I was hopeful, but I didn’t put all of my eggs in one basket. When he was 7 I discovered our area has a program called The First Tee. The First Tee incorporates nine core values to help children learn the game of golf. The coaches are amazing at our local program, and they do a great job with keeping all of the children interested in the game of golf.(So much so, he begs to go to the driving range near our home every day afterschool-but I happily oblige).
Since starting the program Andrew has remained active and engaged, and excited every week to go to lessons. The coaches make learning golf fun, so it helps Andrew stay attentive through the hour and a half lesson. Playing this sport has some major perks for him as well. Such as keeping him challenged and allowing him to better himself as a golfer.
Since he is always trying beat his score, playing several days a week gives him goals to work towards, and since the objective is to try and have the lowest score possible, he is able to set those parameters for himself each time we go to a course. A major plus is that during golf he becomes hyper-focused, something that has managed to carry over to his school work as well. We have had fewer complaints about him playing in class and not paying attention. There has been a dramatic shift over the last 8 months since he has started.
What All Children Can Learn From Golf
Golf isn’t just an excellent sport for children struggling with ADHD or Autism. There are everyday life skills that children as young as 3 years of age can benefit from.
Golf is by no means an easy sport. It requires dedication and perseverance. Wanting to learn golf isn’t for the faint of heart, as there is a certain level of patience that is required. It’s not like basketball where if you consistently make your shots in one game, you can be seen as the “star” of the team. For a child to be successful they have to be willing to learn all aspects of the game. The hardest part for my son (and even many adults), is being able to accept constructive criticism. Golfers understand that there are many parts of their game they may need to adjust (whether it is their stance, the type of clubs used, grip, etc;), and they have to be willing to change it whether they want to or not.
Golf has a lot of rules, most importantly “no running on the green” and remaining quiet. There is also a dress code that requires for them to look neat, and wear proper clothing and shoes while on the course. While playing the game, it’s important that kids learn, to be honest, while taking their scores (having integrity) and understand that they have to take turns. Also, respect is a major component as well. Golf can be a very emotional sport and it’s inevitable that they may have a bad game (or several bad games). Players have to learn to keep their emotions under control.
Golf is such a great sport and in my opinion an underrated one. Since playing Andrew spends his weekends watching the Golf Channel and has become obsessed with learning Dustin Johnson’s game (who is from our area), Jordan Speith and Tiger & Cheyenne Woods. He is constantly watching YouTube videos so he can learn how to improve his stance and swing, and has taken more initiative to practice outside of his lessons.
He has already set a major goal of playing in a local youth tournament next summer. People say that some sports aren’t for everyone. I’d like to think that golf is different. While it’s not easy by a long shot, it’s definitely something that with a little practice anyone can learn to play.