Golf a Family Affair

Golf is often perceived as a single player game–a lone person with a set of clubs taking on the challenges of the links. But it’s far from a solitary sport, particularly for young golfers. Youth can play on school and competitive golf teams or pick up a round of golf with friends. In fact, golf is one of the few sports where people of all ages and levels can play together, making it a great family activity.

That is how junior golfer Zoe Foster fell in love with the game.

“I started playing when I was 4,” Zoe recalls. “My Mimi (Zoe’s grandmother, Carol Lindblad) would take me golfing whenever she would go.” Mimi gave Zoe a few small golf clubs of her own and she was hooked.

Zoe, now 9, is part of The Trails Golf Club Junior Golf program. The program introduces youth between the ages of 6 to 17 to golf and helps them build their game through good practice habits, proper instruction of the rules of golf and etiquette, in addition to golf skills learned right from the beginning.

The program is led by head golf pro Alan Hager, who echos Zoe’s introduction to golf. He began playing when he was 5 to hang out with his parents on the golf course. Hager, a golf professional for more than 30 years, knows the value of Junior Golf and wants to spark that interest in today’s kids.

The Trails Golf Club offers a comprehensive Summer Junior Program and after-school clinic. The Trails also sponsors spring, summer and fall PGA Junior Leagues that participate in team competition with area courses. 

“It’s never too early to introduce the sport,” Hager says. “I encourage parents to bring the kids to the golf course, even if it is to hit balls or play a few holes.”

Playing golf with a parent is a good predictor of a lifetime golfer. According to the National Golf Foundation research, four out of five junior golfers had their first golf experience with a parent. 

The influence can go both ways. Zoe enticed her mother back on the fairway. Julie Foster started playing golf as an adult and left the game when Zoe was little. Zoe’s love for the game brought her back to golf.

“I leave the coaching to Alan and his staff. My job as a parent is to encourage Zoe and help cultivate her love for the game,” Julie explains. “I am impressed by the confidence golf gives her on and off the course,” she adds. 

Julie, Zoe and Mimi play golf together often, both at home at The Trail Golf Club and on trips.

“When the three of us play together, there are always a lot of laughs,” Julie notes. And an edge of competitiveness, according to Zoe.

“There is a tree in The Trails women’s locker room. If you make a birdie on the golf course, you put your name on a paper bird and clip it onto the tree,” Zoe explains. “We like to see who can make a birdie. It is fun to be competitive, even with your family.”

Golf can be a game of life lessons on and off the course, particularly on respect, honesty and patience. It also provides a lifetime of memories and bonding with the family.

“This is a sport that we can share,” Julie notes. “Zoe will have fond memories of playing golf with her mother and grandmother. She can cultivate that same experience with her own children and grandchildren.”