Tuesday Tips: When You Love Disc Golf, But Your Kids Don’t

How to get your little ones on the course without a meltdown

Parents often have to dig into their bag of tricks to get the family to the course. Photos: Tom Elder

Anyone who’s been around young children for more than a few minutes knows they have minds of their own, and trying to get them to do something they don’t want to do is an uphill battle. Aside from brushing their teeth and eating all of their vegetables, parents often find it hard to convince their kids to follow directions and be cooperative when it’s time for a family outing to the nearest course.

When disc golf is the passion of the grownups in the house, but the kids aren’t on board, what do you do? We run into this issue in our house more often than not; Both of our boys love running and jumping outside, but there’s something about the phrase “we’re going disc golfing” that makes them groan. I talked with a few other parents who play and got some insightful tips and tricks, as well as confirmation that we are not alone in the struggle.

Snacks. Bring Them. Use Them.

By and large, the number one trick that sees success with most everyone I’ve talked to is the usage of snacks as bribes. It sounds bad, I know. But walking the length of an 18-hole course is tiring for smaller children, and sometimes they need a carrot – or cookies — dangled in front of them.

Other than fueling their hunger, using a kid’s favorite snacks can be used to signify little milestones along the way. Fellow golfing mom Tori Carlson has mastered the art of snack bribing.

“I bargain with Goldfish and juice like it’s currency,” Carlson said. “If they’re cool until hole 4, they can have fruit snacks. If they run in front of mom or mom’s disc golf bag, no Pop Tarts.”

Take Play Breaks

Have you ever asked your child to do something, only to have them say they’re tired? The next thing you know, they are treating the house like a jungle gym for the next hour. The same thing happens on the course. My kiddos always say they’re too tired to walk with us, but the second a playground is in sight, suddenly they act like they’ve been dosed with espresso.

As a result, playing a casual round at a course with a playground works well for a lot of parents. It allows your kids something to look forward to if they behave themselves, so setting up the expectation is key.

“They don’t usually complain because they know we’re hitting the playground after a few drives,” said Portland, Oregon, native Ebee Pinca. She and husband Jay often play at Pier Park, a beautiful local course that offers a play structure right near hole 8.

Get Them Involved

I’ve found varying viewpoints when it comes to discussing disc golf with your kids, both in how the trip takes place and how much they get to play. Some parents choose to make a round of golf a planned outing, giving their kids plenty of advanced notice. That doesn’t work so well in our family, so we tend to just grab our bags and get in the car. Usually the kids figure out what we’re up to before we get to the course, but by then it’s too late.

Allowing your kids to actually play with you tends to be a make it or break it difference for a lot of families. If all you want is to play a round with the kids in tow, chances are they aren’t going to have much fun. Instead, Vancouver, Washington, resident Shannon Callahan tries not only to create an outing his kids will enjoy, but also one that plants the seeds for future generations.

“The best way to get kids interested is to be interested in them,” Callahan said. “The first few times you take them out, really focus on their ability and attitude — enthusiasm for a job well done, and encouragement when something could go better. It’s about having fun, but it’s hard to have fun when you’re not practiced at it. It’s important to lay a firm foundation of enjoyment for their early disc golfing experiences. Impressions last and we want them to think of fun when they think of disc golf.”

Expect To Be Interrupted…A Lot

It seems that once kids reach age six or so, they understand the difference between when they can run around and when to be quiet. This translates on the course as well, but one thing that doesn’t seem to stick is where to stand.

“We are constantly reminding them to stay out of the way when we’re putting,” said Washington mom Megan Pierce.

Playing a round of disc golf with your kids and not expecting them to yell during your reach back or run in front of you when you’re lining up a shot will only result in everyone having a frustrating day. Instead, allow for plenty of time to complete your round, and try to lower your expectations — remember, you aren’t golfing with other adults.

Do you have any tips or tricks that help your kids enjoy disc golf? Leave them in the comments and share with the rest of the class.

  1. Courtney Elder
    Courtney Elder

    Courtney Elder is a writer for Ultiworld Disc Golf. She enjoys disc golfing in the Portland area with her husband and two boys and is pretty obsessed with her cats. Her writing portfolio is available to view at Author-Eyes.


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