Posted May 26th, 2014 @ 09:17am by Erik J. Barzeski
Yesterday Nat played in her first U.S. Kids Golf local "tour" event.
Stupidly, we arrived at the course at 12:30, because tee times started at about 1:20. Unfortunately, her tee time was 4:47… so we went to Boston Market and to a driving range to kill some time, then came back to the course at about 3:50.
The course for 10-11 year-olds is 1900 yards or so over nine holes. That's an average hole length of about 225 yards. There were two par fives (280, 330), and two par threes (95, 75), but the rest of the holes were about 225. The rough was THICK and the fairways were quite narrow.
Nat was paired with a girl from Michigan and another from Youngstown. For a 10- or 11-year-old, the Michigan girl could hit the ball far. About twice as far as Nat.
The girl from Youngstown, well, she's played in several U.S. Kids Golf events, but if she had the same caddie (her father) in all of them, I don't know how. She was mentally abused for two and a half hours. She was told that she sucks, that golf "wasn't for her," that she should quit, etc.
Nat started off really well. She over-drew her ball into the left rough on the first hole, chopped a 7-iron out to 50 yards or so, and chipped onto the green and two-putted easily. Ditto on the second hole except her drive was slightly right. On the third hole she piped her driver down the fairway, and was last to hit. I asked if she wanted to hit a SW or a 9I and she said "Well, I could rip a sand wedge, but I'm just gonna hit a 3/4 9-iron to give myself a putt." She did, and two-putted for par.
The next hole was the 95-harder, and she hit a 7-iron just short, putted on through 10 feet of fairway grass, and two-putted. She was three over through four holes. I didn't have a clue what would win, but I thought if she kept this pace up she'd place in the top five (of nine) pretty easily. She was beating both of the girls in her group.
On the fifth tee she learned a lesson about staying focused. We waited while some golfers ahead of us looked for a lost ball. Nat was goofing around being cocky and asking Carey to take pictures of her shadow when she made cute poses in her golf swing and so on. Then she rushed when it was her turn to hit, pushed it a bit into a tree, and things went downhill from there. Though the shot wasn't bad (it was a 330-yard par five with water on the left side), she started pouting pretty quickly. She hit a hybrid a bit thin but into more light rough up the right side, then repeated it getting it into the fairway 90 yards short in three. She could easily have made six from there, but proceeded to continue to pout and talk about how badly she was now doing, taking six more strokes (a 9-iron, two sand wedge chips, and three putts) from there. Her first putt was only from 10 feet, too, but downhill, and so her second was from six feet back up the slope.
On the next tee she was teed in front of the markers, and I had to move her back. She disagreed (she was wrong), but the pouting continued. She finished the last five holes +15 despite playing the first four in +3, learning a valuable lesson about sticking to your routine.
She finished 7th out of the nine girls that played in the 10-11 age group. I told her that, since she's small, many of these girls are going to stop growing soon, and if she can hang with them now, she'll catch up to them and pass them at some point as she keeps growing. One of the girls, for example, was easily 18 inches taller than Nat!
Overall I'm very proud of Nat's play, and despite being pouty a few times, she held it together and didn't ever get out of line or disturb any of her fellow competitors. She kept going, and finished her round, even though she knew she'd lost. Last year these events had two or three girls, so the fact that there were nine this year is surprising. Several girls came from hours away, so Nat did well just to play, and she's just getting experience at this point. Many of the girls have been playing in these events for years.
I'm proud of my kiddo. She did well, and looks forward to the next tournament, where again we'll be focusing on having fun and doing our best, and learning what we can.