BY: ABBY WILKERSON
When I was first married, tennis was the family sport of choice. Everyone played, from my husband and his mom to his siblings, aunts and cousins. Family vacation mornings included round robin matches until the South Carolina heat threatened to send us to the emergency room instead of the beach. Many of us played ALTA or USTA or League Tennis, or a combination of all three.
But somewhere along the way, I found myself without tennis partners. Knee injuries and subsequent surgeries sent most looking for a gentler sport to release their competitive spirits on, and so they all ditched me for golf. Granted, most of the family already played golf. But now they played golf instead of tennis.
The greatest loss was my mother-in-law, who was the biggest tennis player of all of us. A hamstring injury claimed her tennis career, and she traded in her racquet for a set of clubs, putting clinics and afternoons playing nine holes with my father-in-law.
At the same time, I began recognizing certain tendencies in my oldest daughter regarding sports. She’s pretty good at her first love–soccer–but she’s a thinker, and sometimes she slows down just enough to consider her options and winds up without the ball. I began pondering what kind of sport would best suit her, allowing her to take her time, analytically consider the situation and choose the best option.
And so that’s how I wound up taking beginner golf lessons with a seven-year-old this summer at Sugar Hill Golf Club with club pro Scott Murphy.
With a goal of simply being good enough to join someone for a round and not embarrass myself, we began a series of five lessons that mostly took place on the driving range. As a lifelong athlete, I was excited about the opportunity to begin with professional training, and hopefully nip any bad habits in the bud. Bubba Watson’s wonky self-taught swing may work for him, but I suspect he’s the exception and not the rule.
Scott began by handing us clubs and literally turning us loose on the driving range. Despite knowing that the majority of our experience involved plastic clubs in the backyard, he wanted to see what he was working with for himself. After questioning himself for not doubling the price on these two yahoos, he began adjusting posture, discussing grips and explaining how the finish should look and feel (you pause and hold the pose, as if Sports Illustrated is photographing you for the cover).
I spent way too much of my first lesson worried that I looked like an idiot, especially when I whiffed. My head was filled with the 75 little things I had to remember to do each and every swing, and so the second lesson felt like one step forward, two steps back. Things started to smooth out a bit by the third lesson, and at the end of the fourth, Scott deemed us good enough to spend lesson five on the golf course.
All in all, I can’t recommend lessons with Coach Scott at Sugar Hill Golf Club highly enough, especially for beginners. Scott is especially adept at working with kids, and has a way of encouraging that made my mom-heart swell. He also coaches multiple clinics just for children.