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RANGE TOKENS Dorks NoMore By Mark Willard M y son is not a dork. But I was. I tried not to be, but itwas in-evitable. What can I say? I love golf. And if you loved golf as a young person back in the 1980s thatmeant you were kind of strange. I bring my son to the range a few times a month. It’s one of those easy sells for a six-year-old kid. If he’s bored, or justwanting to play video games, I say “let’s go hit golf balls.” The kid is out of his seat so fast his booster seat in the car is buckled before I can get a hat. It’s a blast taking him to the range. If my dad had takenme to a driving range when I was six I’m pretty sure the other players would have looked atme like I had seven legs. No one did that back in 1981. In fact, my dad didn’t even play then. Hewaited until hewas close to 60 to pick up the game. But when I take young Abe Willard, people are friendly, sometimes even envious. Hitting golf balls with your boy has become the new “playing catch.” Usually when we go, we aren’t alone. Other little kids are there working on their games. Sometimes there are golf camps with groups of kids learning how to use touch around the greens. No one is pointing and laughing at these kids. The idea that only nerds play golf is something that wouldn’t even occur to them. I didn’t pick up the game until high school. Without a mentor to showme the way, there was no reason to be ridiculed and be the one kid who had traded his baseball bat for a golf club. That changed because I had a few high school buddieswho were really good. I mean really good. So it started as a social gathering forme, and it grewto a love of the game. One of the best parts about being a parent is showing your kids all your fa-vorite things. My kid happens to LOVE sports (WOO HOO!). So I get to introduce him to these games and teach him the right way to play them. It’s better than chocolate. And we’re blessed to be do-ing this now in 2013. We get to go to the range.We carry our clubs through the parking lot. We buy a range token. We go to the cage and he pushes the button tomake the balls come out (he loves this part!). We carry the balls to the tee boxes and split the bucket. I hit a few, then I pull out my phone and take videos of his always-improving swing. Itwarmsmy heart, and I get to do all of this without turning my son into a dork. You can catch MarkWillard on ESPNLA (710AM) weekday mornings from10 a.m. – 12 p.m. where he gives instant reac-tions on the hottest topics in Los Ange-les-based sports. In addition, listen to the Range Tokens podcast each Mondaymorning at 9 a.m. onscga.org. "No one is point-ingand laughing at these kids. The ideathat onlynerds playgolf is some-thingthat wouldn’t evenoccur tothem." 62 | FORE August/September 2013
Dorks No More
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