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Feedback to Tommy Manotoc's Article

My previous post was taken from Tommy Manotoc's April 24 column in the Inquirer. Later the evening after reading it, I wrote my feedback to Mr. Manotoc.

The week after, Mr. Manotoc's column then read:

Our piece on Jungolf parenting last week elicited a lot of positive reactions from my fellow jungolf parents and golfers. We received emails, text messages, and telephone calls commending us for, in golf parlance, hitting the sweet spot. I thank you all.

Here is a father's interesting response.

"You had a very enlightening column yesterday in the papers. Kudos to you for a well written item on parents and junior golf. It very well reminded me of this article written in the San Diego Tribune last year on the days of the Junior World (text below). I'm sure you'll be amused by it while it does ram into the hearts of jungolf parents.

"For all the external accolade and glamour that comes with Junior Golf, thanks to Tiger Woods and corporate sponsors like Callaway and Nike, parents can easily fall into the trap of creating a son/daughter who is so skilled in the game yet misses the "Spirit of the Game".

"From my end as a jungolf dad, I've seen how parents and kids alike can focus so much on skill and winning so as to miss out on more important aspects such as integrity, playing by the rules, dealing with disappointment, even dealing with judgement calls leading to disqualification.

"As it is, we may be breeding more skilled golfers but fewer gentlemen.

"I hope your piece continues to sound a resonant chord among all of us jungolf parents to remind us that above skill and awards, what we should treasure most would be the instruction and values for life we can impress on these young ones as shown by moral support, the time spent together, and most of all, the examples and virtues we display while on the course.

More power to you Sir!


Here are the excerpts from the article that saw print in the San Diego Tribune last July 18.

Junior World isn't all cute and cuddly

July 18, 2008

I spent a good part of the past two days watching the 6-and-under boys and girls divisions in the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships. There were some priceless, wonderful moments to be shared at the Colina Park Golf Course.

Little girl golfers, dressed in pink, walking hand-in-hand down the fairway with their daddy caddie; players running with exuberance from hole to hole, or climbing, just for the heck of it, on the rock hole markers.

There was a classic scene of some preschoolers attending a birthday party at the nearby park. They stood behind the fence, noses to the wire, watching kids not much older than they tee off. One yelled to the others, “Here come the professionals!”

If you want laughs at Junior World, this is where you find them.

But just know that you might see some pretty disturbing stuff, too. Stuff that will disgust you. Stuff that makes you wonder what motivates parents to act the way they do.

Japan's Yuki Takeuchi won the Boys 6-Under title yesterday with an impressive score of 7-over through 54 holes. Yet five holes into his final round, he was crying and throwing a tantrum.

On the fourth hole, Yuki had received a warning from a tournament official after he slammed his putter down following a bogey. On the fifth, he two-putted for (only!) a par, flung his arms into the air, ripped off his hat and started to cry. While the other kids putted out, he stood facing a tree, picking off the bark.

His mother, working as his caddie, tried to console him, but he ignored her.

The trouble was that everything Mom had done up to that point had contributed to her son's building frustration. From the first tee, she had teed up his ball, dictated his club selection, lined him up. A couple of times, she still had her hands on his shoulders, making adjustments, when he decided to swing. She should be wearing a helmet!

Rick Johnson watched this and other scenes and shook his head. He is the affable assistant pro at the Pro Kids Golf Academy at Colina Park and has worked with hundreds of kids over the past four years.

“As a whole, there's just a lot of overcoaching, a lot of negative reinforcement,” Johnson said.

This week, Johnson said he watched parents spend so much time trying to get their child's alignment perfect that the kids didn't know when to swing the club. They would freeze. Other parents, he said, showed a lot of love when their child made a big putt, and one hole later coldly turned their back after a miss.

“That's horrible!” Johnson said. “Those kids, when they get to be 12 or 13, they're going to tell their dad to go to you-know-where.”

This is not to paint all of the parents with a broad brush. Ninety percent of those I observed were supportive and good-natured. It's the 10 percent who worry me, and I fear for their kids.

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