“Why wouldn’t you want to use a sand wedge to chip onto this green?” Colin Montgomerie asks a large group of junior golfers and their parents during a clinic the morning before the U.S. Senior Open tees off at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“It would go too high,” chirps an 8-year-old in the front row.
“What happens when I use the 6-iron?” Montgomerie responds.
“The ball stays lower,” answers the same precocious child.
“Well, you must be top of your class,” says the 2014 U.S. Senior Open champion.
This back-and-forth continues for several minutes until Montgomerie invites Samuel Yount onto the green to attempt to hit some cones with a putt. On his third try, the boy drills the targets and receives a warm round of applause from the crowd.
Samuel says he started playing golf when he was 3, but his mom, Sarah, contends that hitting a sibling with a plastic club hardly counts as playing golf and instead places the origin of his familiarity with the game at age 5.
“My grandma got me my first set of clubs,” he said.
Samuel is a member of Pikes Peak Junior Golf and Sarah said the program is critical to children’s development.
“It’s important that kids are introduced to all sports,” she said. “They just need to have more fun and be kids. I think it’s important that they learn the skills and don’t take it too seriously.”
The mom from Monument, Colo., added that the game has already taught her son life lessons.
“Patience and that you have to do your best,” she said. “Not every day is going to go fabulous. You have to work hard and practice.”
Sarah, who was introduced to the game by her “golfaholic” mom, is happy the obsession is being passed on to the next generation.
“I like it because it’s something we can do together as a family,” she said.
Jordan Schwartz is the creative and content lead for the USGA Foundation. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.