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Raising A Champion
By Anne Marie Goslak

It is funny how history repeats itself.  When I was a little girl, I had a teaching pro who taught me everything I needed to play my best. Now I am the one teaching a little female Tiger Woods to play.  Over the years of teaching, I have realized, however, that the real back bone of any young player is not the coach.  It is the parents. 

If your child is dreaming of making it big, here are a few suggestions. Encourage with blind faith that your child COULD be the next super star.  It does not matter that one in thousands kids really end up on tour.  How do you know that your child is not the one?  Every famous singer, actor, and professional athlete started their dream by simply believing they could do it.  Are you worried that you are giving your child false hope?  Tell them it takes a lot of work, and few make it. But tell them that you believe that they can succeed. The lowest point in a player’s life is when they think their parents no longer believe in them.

Get them the right coaching.  It’s not a game any more.  There are 10 year olds shooting even par.  They have coaches, biofeedback specialist, and personal trainers.  I am not saying every child needs that, but don’t let your second cousin’s brother who once won the Forsyth Amateur teach your child.  They need professional help.

Finally, make the commitment with them.  Tell them that you will be there to take them to practice, to get them to tournaments on time, to celebrate the good times and the bad.  Most importantly, tell them you love them regardless of what they shoot. The best advice my dad ever gave me was after I missed qualifying for the US Open.   He said, “I know you are hurting right now and you are disappointed, but there are half a million people in China right now who don’t give a #@$%  what you shot.”   In his own way, he was saying, “It’s just a game.”  My mother routinely reminds me that she loves me “to infinity”.  To this day, I mark my golf balls with the infinity sign as a reminder.

Don’t expect your child to be older than their actual age.  Although the ten year old I teach hits the ball like a teenager, she is still a child. She likes to play games, and loses her focus from time to time.  That’s OK.  Don’t force your child into practicing by using guilt. “We spent all this money on lessons and tournaments.  You better get out there and practice!” 

Finally, if your child wants to quit, let them do it.  I have been there when the final curtain came down on a young woman’s career.  She had been playing in national junior tournaments since she was six.  At the age of 26, having never had a boyfriend, never been to a prom, never gotten the chance to do anything but play, she had had enough.  At a tour event, she announced that she was done.  Her dad responded with all that the family had given up for the dream.  It was an ugly situation.  Remember whose dream it was and let it go if your child is ready.

There is a thin line between helping a child to stardom and pushing someone too far.  Walk it well.

-Anne Marie Goslak