Golf is a challenging, frustrating, and humbling game. More difficult mentally than physically, it can flummox even the most experienced player. Of course, I am talking about putt-putt with small children. Compared to a round of mini golf with a five, three, and one-year old, the Masters is a walk in the exceptionally landscaped park. Bryson DeChambeau can hit the ball a mile, but can he putt with only his left hand as he holds a crying toddler in his right? Jordan Spieth might have laser focus in the final round of major, but has he ever putted around a waterfall while making sure a tiny child doesn’t fall into said waterfall? Could Louis Oosthuizen play it as it lies if it lies in the clenched fist of a tear and snot-soaked one year-old? Methinks not.
Since the start of school, we have decided to have a Family Fun Friday to reward the kids if they have a good week at school and do their chores all week at home. This week we though taking them for their first time playing mini golf would be a fun thing to do. Fools. Right before we are about to play the first hole, my two daughters both suddenly had to go to the bathroom, despite the fact the both said they didn’t have to go right before we left the house. Funny how that happens. On the way back from the bathroom my 3 year-old tripped, fell, and cried. The round of golf would not get any better.
I knew my kids would not be good, but I completely under-estimated the amount of crying that would be involved. To my five year-old’s credit, after showing her the right way to hold the club, she did maintain a mostly proper grip the whole time. However, the concept that you make your way through the course in one consistent direction was lost on her. My three-year old mostly pushed the ball around as if she was playing some sort of golf-curling hybrid for the first half of the course, and then decided she was done playing for the second half. When they weren’t racking up the strokes, they were making their way from tripping hazard to tripping hazard. The thing I never noticed about mini golf courses until I went with kids, is that the whole thing is designed to entice a little person to fall and crack their head open. If the decorative rocks and uneven brick walkways weren’t enough, the holes themselves are designed to be uneven. My kids have literally fallen down standing still, they had no shot walking around a golf course with a club in their hands. I’d like to see Brooks Koepka shoot under par while reminding his caddy not to stand on that every 30 seconds.
I don’t know what the right age is to take a kid for their first game of mini golf, but it sure isn’t one. Between his rapidly approaching bed time and his rapidly approaching teeth, he was mess. Every hole went something like this: carry him to the tee, put him down to hit, he cries, hit, pick him up, repeat. His only source of enjoyment came when we would sit him next to the hole and he would pick up everybody’s ball out of it and hand it back to them. It was a little encouraging to see that he may have a bright future as my caddy some day, but he would have so much fun at each hole that he’d cry every time we’d have to take him to the next. Even after 17 holes, he never caught on there there would be another hole just a few feet away.
Hole by hole we trudged on. At first my wife and I kidded ourselves that we’d at least be able to keep score between ourselves. After the first hole the score card went in my pocket and it didn’t come out until it was put in the recycling bin at home. While it slowed down our start while we waited at the first tee, I think it was a blessing that the course was very crowded. It look us roughly 45 minutes to finish each hole (or maybe it just felt like?), but we were always right behind the group of people in front of us, who was right behind the group in front of them. Each of us with children no older than seven or eight. Behind us was a mother and her teenage son. Even if we let them play through, they’d be sandwiched between two groups without any hope of maintaining pace of play. Poor bastards.
The highlight for the kids was the abnormally blue water. Even though kids four and under were free, I felt I overpaid. When we finally finished the round my 5 year-old looked at me and asked “Is this all we’re doing?”
Yes. Yes it is. Happy Family Fun Friday. Now, let’s go home so Mommy and Daddy can have a drink.