Unleash Your Child’s Passion Through Golf
We list a few reasons of why golf is good for your child ... and the whole family.
Years ago when I first put on my golf skirt, I pictured myself swinging like a pro as the breeze rushed through my hair and the guys stared in admiration. Well, the sad reality staring at me from the mirror was two fat thighs (call them logs) sticking out in an embarrassing squat position shouting back at me: this isn’t your thing. So I put that imaginary club back aside, ditched the skirt and moved on. But now I’m a mother of two boys and a wife to a golf buff, and that quote by Jack Lemmon “If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball” instantly rang a bell when my oldest came by with an idea to start golf to “be like his dada.”
Luckily, we live in Japan, a country home to some of the most pristine courses and best golf players in the world, including Ryo Ishikawa, who apparently started at just two years old and now makes the game look just so easy.
And so the adventure began. It took us some time before we found the perfect youth program for our son in Tokyo, largely due to the fact that many of them are not taught in English. But we were lucky enough to be introduced to the Samadhi Golf School based at Jingu Gaien Practice Range near Shinjuku, an outdoor practice facility, run by Brian Joseph, an American PGA pro.
Brian has been playing since he was four years old, and he turned pro at 19. He has been teaching kids and adults for the last 18 years (12 of which in Japan) and firmly believes in the ethos to
help juniors learn to play better golf and develop a lifetime love for the game in a safe and fun environment.
Brian grabbed our attention when he also shared his ten reasons why juniors should play golf: it will help them enjoy the outdoors, develop lifelong friendships, practice personal responsibility, have a safe place to play, learn to manage your emotions, appreciate diversity, pick up the game quickly, learn etiquette, spend time with family and develop healthy habits for life.
He didn’t mention that it may make them rich if they turn pro, but we secretly hoped for that as well.
When my son had his first lesson with Brian, he was in total awe. Brian was enthusiastic, yet highly patient, a very experienced teacher with a passion for the game. He worked with my son on his grip, gently teaching him where to put his feet, and after that just let him have fun hitting balls, wiping away my fears that the class would turn into endless drills.
The lesson was 50 minutes long, and part of a four-class program running through six weeks. The facility at Jingu Gaien Practice Range is fantastic, the east range has many targets for the younger kids and the west range is a large open-air facility that is also a baseball field. The program teaches not only the basic golf fundamentals and full swing, but also golf etiquette, an essential part of the game.
“In the very beginning it’s not necessary to go out and buy a full set of clubs, one is fine to just have some fun with. If they get more serious about the game, then look at expanding to a few more such as a putter, wedge and driver,” Brian told me and upon his advice I took my son to the Victoria Golf shop close by and bought one club for him. As I walked out of the shop with my son clutching his new 7 iron alongside me, I couldn’t help but notice how proud he looked.
I’m a golfer now, he said with a huge smile.
It has been two years since then and my son still practices with Brian. Both me and my husband can’t be happier with how much he has grown — and not only for the fact that his natural swing is way better than his father’s now. Previously a shy boy, since he started golf he has been demonstrating interest in going out into nature, being outdoors (instead of playing video games all the time), has more friends and is developing a strong sense of integrity and playing by the rules. And most of all — he still has the same smile on his face as he did after his first golf class every time we pick him up from Brian’s.
And for me… golf is no longer a bad memory of my fat thighs. Recently I’ve learned to see the sport from another angle: as a tool to unleash my kids’ hidden passions, teach them discipline and offer them the chance to build lifelong friendships (while I secretly hope that it may also make them superstars one day).
Address: 3-2 Kasumigaoka-machi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Lessons: Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays (choose preference)
Time: Ages 4-6 (4 p.m. – 4:50), Ages 7-10 (5 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.), Ages 11-15 (6 p.m. – 6:50 p.m.)
Fee: ¥14,000 for four 50-minute group lessons. Private lessons are also available. Contact Brian directly through the official website for inquiries.