YOU may have seen or heard about my two-and-a-half-year-old son, Sam. He’s a little obsessed with the game of golf. How did it all come about? Well, I absolutely love the game and always keep a pitching wedge in my living room near the television so I can groove my swing during ads. Like any other sport, I think it’s important to keep yourself ticking over when you’re not playing. One day while I was having practice swings, I noticed Sam was absolutely fixated on what I was doing from his highchair. He saw me swinging the club and it was pretty obvious he wanted a piece of the action, too. A cricket bat wasn’t going to cut it.
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Sam always had toy balls in his playpen, but as soon as he started to walk I put a plastic golf club in his hands. He started making crisp contact instantly … his timing was quite incredible. It showed me he had good hand-eye co-ordination, but the moment I really knew he was hooked on golf came while I was watching a golf tournament on TV, back before Sam could talk. One day while flicking between the golf and the football, I noticed Sam would complain and express his frustration whenever the golf went off the screen. Sure enough, when I switched back to the golf it would be greeted with a big grin and giggle. From that day on, every time we take our dog on its daily walk, Sam has to bring his golf clubs – he throws a tantrum if we don’t let him. He got the bug early.
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Sam’s social media stardom started with his mother. She was always on her phone, taking thousands of photos. Before Sam came along, it was our dog that was the star. I think she had something like 10,000 photos on her phone. She loves taking footage of the kids and I guess Sam’s rise to fame started with the video of him going to the fridge with his golf club and hitting the ice-cube dispenser, then hitting ice all around the house. That went viral and it really ballooned from there. He has nearly 60,000 fans on Facebook and is regularly trending on Twitter with his golf videos. I’ve been amazed at just how popular they are. We’ve done interviews for all the major newspapers and TV networks.
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With my sporting background (Blewett played 46 Tests for Australia), I was never going to be a parent where I pushed my kids to play a particular sport. I just want them to be happy and healthy and have a passion for whatever it is they choose in life. As parents we will be there to help them along the way but ultimately it will be up to them. At the moment, Sam just can’t go a day without swinging a golf club so I’m OK with that. Even if his interests shift as he gets older, I feel golf will always be there for Sam.
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Touch wood, Sam hasn’t broken anything around the house yet. We installed thick windows to cater for him but apart from giving his Dad a few sore shins, he’s managed to keep things damage free. He’s gone close to hitting people and their dogs at the park but luckily he’s pretty accurate and the ball goes where he aims.
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Sam’s not old enough to watch “Happy Gilmore” yet, but “Caddyshack” is my all-time favourite golf movie so I might introduce him to that soon.
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Sam knows quite a few of today’s players. When they come on TV he spurts out their name. Rickie Fowler seems to be the flavour of the month at the moment. Whenever we ask him who is going to win this week, his standard reply is: “Wickie Fower.”
We haven’t introduced Sam to the golf club environment yet because, as a two-year-old, he still runs amok like any other two-year-old would. On top of that we don’t want to upset other club members. But Golf South Australia has been great with their junior golf programs in our area and I’m sure Sam will get the opportunity to take his game further when he’s ready.
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Is golf doing enough to attract kids? Well, I think there has been a noticeable change since I took up the sport. Golf clubs now realise there’s a lot of competition out there for membership and they’re doing a lot more to attract younger people to the game, which is great. However, when it comes to the elite level I still think golf is a fair way behind the other sports, particularly in South Australia. But there is no doubt everyone is making a real effort now to ensure golf isn’t just seen as an elitist sport. If Sam really wants to pursue golf one day, I’m confident there will be suitable pathways for him to follow.
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One major difference I’ve seen between golf and cricket is the coaching side of things. In cricket, we deal with different techniques in coaching and adapt to what’s best for the player and work around their idiosyncrasies. In golf, they tend to coach in line with a particular method that may not be the most productive method for that individual. I’d like to see golf instructors work more with what the individuals have rather than teach the same thing to everyone. Golfers have so many theories on the swing and at times we over-complicate it, whereas in cricket we try to simplify things as much as possible. The basics work pretty well. Look at Jim Furyk – there’s the perfect example of someone who works with what they have and gets it to work by simplifying what he does at impact.
My advice for getting your kids into golf is: eliminate other recreational options at their disposal, particularly ones that aren’t healthy. We had a fairly unique situation where we had a lot of space outside our house, which has allowed Sam to go out and do his own thing. But we’ve also been extremely reluctant to give our kids iPads or access to computer games. We figure they will get exposed to all that technology stuff later in life anyway so why now? Instead we encourage them to get outside and hit balls and be active. We also haven’t given Sam any instruction with his golf. We’re not forcing it. We just want him to work it out for himself and see where it takes him.
– written with Brad Clifton
• Stay up to date with Sam Blewett’s golf exploits online at www.facebook.com/samblewettgolf or on Twitter