We spent Easter weekend at the dache (country house) outside of Kyiv. It was a great time with family – BBQ, egg decorating, the good stuff. But this year, there was an added twist. We brought a sand wedge and some soft practice golf balls. This changed everything, and may even be the beginning of a family tradition.
Golf is thought by many to be a rich man’s game, and that’s fine, a lot of successful people play, and it can be pricey to get out on the course, fair enough. But golf doesn’t have to be expensive. Old Tom Morris, the caretaker of St Andrews and father of modern golf, was very against the idea of golf being only for those who fly first class. Like me, he found the very idea vulgar and bourgeois.
One of the goals of the Kyiv Golf Academy is to grow the game of golf in Ukraine, and to do that, the game must be available to working people, middle class families, students and ordinary people in general. That’s why this idea is so important to us. Golf is for everyone!
So, how do you do it? How do you play without a lot of cash? Well, this weekend, we put a flag in the ground on a piece of grass, took our one golf club and held a closest to the flag tournament. Young Dania, my nine year old nephew, was the star of the event. He had never hit a golf ball before, but after watching me hit some high arching shots, he wanted to try.
It’s very important when introducing kids to golf that you don’t over coach them. I just showed him a basic grip and let him work it out for himself. It was fascinating to watch. He started hitting them high in the air, but without accuracy. Didn’t matter, he loved watching his shots sail. After he had hit a few, we started hitting alternating shots. He watched me like a hawk, and was soon imitating my pre shot routine.
Once we turned it into a contest, he was hooked. We played played for hours, and it wasn’t long before he was putting shots less than five feet from the flag. I watched has he began to develop the touch necessary to control the distance of his shots. Then he announced it was time for a tournament.
Anna and I were first to play. I had three orange practice balls and she had three pink ones. After six alternating shots, we measured our best. Anna beat me by a full foot. Then it was time for her and Dania. It was close, but Anna was the tournament champion.
Dania and I renewed our alternate shot contest until the sun went down. In all about five hours of golf. He made a lot of progress, and never once picked up his mobile phone. For Anna and I, it was a great opportunity to practice our wedge games, to introduce the game to a newbie, and to enjoy some real family time. After that, the BBQ tasted better, the whiskey smoother and we slept like bears.
Here’s a little video for you golfers out there on a rainy day in Kyiv. It’s Ben Hogan’s impact drill. You can use a golf club, a broom or any kind of stick, and you can do it anywhere. Anna breaks down the move in Ukrainian language for the locals.