A Champion Golf Family
Most people come to Pinehurst to play championship courses having already learned the game.
The thousand or so families who have come from around the world to play in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship this week are no exception — except for the Kane family.
A local family, Sean and Julia Kane moved to Pinehurst from Tennessee four years ago on a military transfer. I met with them at Mid Pines over lunch to learn about their two protégé sons, Conlan, 8 years old, and Garrett, 6 years old, after their first round in the U.S. Kids.
Julia was quick to tell me how instrumental Pinehurst was in inspiring Conlan to take up the game.
“As we drove through town, Conlan would point at each golf course we passed along the way and say, ‘I want to play there!’” she says. “He always wanted us to drive down Midland Road, ‘the golf course road,’ to get home. He bugged us so much that we decided to get him golf lessons from Dale Briggs at Knollwood when he was 4 years old. The rest is history. It was his fascination with the Pinehurst courses, not us, that inspired him to play golf.”
Garrett, his younger brother, saw Conlan’s passion for the game which also included his watching The Golf Channel, reading golf books and watching videos like “The History of Pinehurst.”
“He’s watched that video so many times that he could give tours of Pinehurst himself,” Julia notes.
Seeing Conlan’s all-out-love for the game sparked Garrett to say to his parents, “I want to do that!”
While golf is a lifestyle for Conlan, Garrett likes it in part because of his older brother’s interest and because he likes anything he can win at. Sean and Julia’s involvement in golf is “because of them.”
This week, both brothers had the chance to tee it up on the golf course road.
Garrett shot an opening round 39 at Midland Country Club. The 1,300-yard course for the 6-year-olds played about 800 yards shorter than Conlan’s track at Mid Pines, where Conlan shot 47, two shots behind fellow local, Colin Dutton.
I asked each brother about his best first-round shot.
Garrett remarked, “My best shot was hitting a sand wedge on the eighth hole to about two or three feet. It was a great rescue shot. I did birdie the sixth hole, a par-5.”
Conlan was next: “My best shot was hitting a hybrid over a tree. I was 91 yards from the pin and in the pine straw. I thought it was going to go in the bunker, but it cleared the tree and the bunker, landing on the green.”
Both Player of the Year winners on the local Myrtle Beach tour, they were upbeat in their attitude for the next day’s round, largely due to their parents’ philosophy.
“Golf is a game and it needs to remain fun for the kids,” Sean says. “While there is a lot of pressure in this world championship because it is played at the next level with officials, scorekeepers, and other professional elements, it is still a game and they are still kids.”
It appears the Kanes have discovered a formula for success in the early stages of their sons’ competitive trajectory: play golf within a fun family atmosphere, give their kids space to develop their own interests and passions, and keep nurturing their kids’ love for the game.
Rapping up the interview, I asked Garrett a few remaining questions:
“How do you get over a bad shot?” His response: “I recover!”
“Who is the better player?” He replied, “We’re still trying to decide.”
I thought, “Diplomatic at 6. That’s great.”
I continued, “What’s your game plan for tomorrow?” “Play well and have fun!” Garrett said with a big smile on his face.
While I was impressed with these boys’ attitudes and obvious giftings, my attention turned toward the healthy perspective on competition instilled in them by their parents.
As they headed off to go swimming for the afternoon, all I could think was, “Your kids may have found golf going down the golf course road. You, however, are raising them in such a way as to find the path to life through their sport and focus on the family in it.”
As a performance coach I always say, “All true championship begins and ends in the home.”
Well done, Sean and Julia. Well done.
Veronica Karaman lives in Pinehurst and is the founder of True Champion Coaching. Email her at email@example.com.
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