a peek inside the fishbowl

20 Jul, 2010

Chasing those little white balls

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy

We parents are quick to sign our kids for swimming lessons and soccer, hockey and gymnastics. Sure, some kids branch out into pottery and karate, but I wanted to share with you a little something that the eldest has been up to.

Mark’s parents are members of Hylands Golf Club and last summer they signed Emma up for group lessons.

Here is she is, learning about putting.

putting practice

Despite its reputation as being a rich man’s sport, it really doesn’t have to be. Golf has the unfair reputation of being elitist, but as Mark points out (he’s the golfer here) it’s the golf clubs that are elitist, what with their pricey memberships n’all.

Most golf courses have very inexpensive junior memberships, and there are a number of golf camps in the city. Even though I’m not a golfer, I certainly appreciate it as a sport. I think it’s a great game to learn how to play, this is especially true for kids.

Kid’s clubs are relatively inexpensive. This year Emma has been wearing running shoes instead of golf shoes. Nana bought her some clothing (collared shirts only, and no denim), and the rest of the stuff somehow filters in. i.e. golf balls, golf club etc.

Speaking of clothes, golf clothes are the one thing tempting me to take the sport up myself. There is some really swanky gear out there! (But I’m sticking to my slogging for now…)

At a recent board meeting I got the true sense of how important golf is in corporate culture. There’s an upcoming charity tournament, and conversation rolls around to things like who’s going to join our foursome? etc etc. I, of course, couldn’t join anyone anywhere. My golf skills are limited to mini-putt.

There are lot of benefits to learning how to play golf. Networking aside, it gets people outdoors and active. It’s not just a young person’s sport either (how many elderly people do you see playing soccer or basketball?) but it’s about lifelong skills development.

Golf is a window into people’s hearts. It’s a litmus test. Does the person you’re golfing with exaggerate their handicap? Do they shave strokes, or play it straight? Are they a good sport? Are they able to laugh at themselves or are they competitive to the point of throwing their club into the trees out of sheer frustration?

Nowhere do you go so naked as you do when you’re playing golf.

You learn a lot about people on a golf course, after all, you are spending five or so hours together. Mark can speak to this more than I can, but he’s told me about dealings he’s had with people on the golf course that have permanently changed my opinion about them.

As for Emma, she seems to enjoy her lessons. I’m happy she’s taken an interest. There is a certain cache to being a girl who can really drive a ball down the fairway. (Although she’s not quite at that stage yet.)


Her lessons take place once a week. Last time she was out we made it a family event.

We saw her off and then hung out at the clubhouse.

Look at the fancy way they serve up a bag of chips!


The drink in the photo above is a lemon-up; lemon cordial syrup with Sprite poured over it. Oh, and three maraschino cherries. It is heaven in a glass.

We waited patiently for Emma’s lesson to be over:

Sarah's dress

And even played a couple rounds of hangman to pass the time:

the handy dandy notebook

On the way back to Emma, someone got to check out a golf cart:

illegal driver!

Anyway, yes, golf! Do you golf? Do your kids?

I hope Mark chimes in here. Hylands was one of his first places of employment, so there’s a special connection there I’m sure. :)

13 Responses to "Chasing those little white balls"

1 | BeachMama

July 20th, 2010 at 7:03 am


We are a true golfing family. Both Hubby and I spend many a summer golfing every moment of our free time before the children came along. Now we go when the opportunity presents itself. And although it is not an elitist sport, it can be quite an expensive one if you go for a membership. If you don’t mind driving around the gorgeous contryside there are many less expensive courses not far from home.

2 | Judy

July 20th, 2010 at 7:44 am


I am the only in my famiy who doesn’t golf but would love to. In the city I grew up in there are many muncicipal courses right in the city that are inexpensive. There are also non-club courses within a 10 minute drive of most of the city’s neighbourhoods.

Hopefully once we are past toddlerhood and early childhood we can pick it up. I took lessons when I was your daughter’s age and loved it.

3 | bushidoka

July 20th, 2010 at 8:24 am


Well, I almost believed you about golf being “active” – until I saw the picture of your daughter in the golf cart :-P

4 | Mark

July 20th, 2010 at 10:39 am


Yes, Hylands was my first job when I was 13 years old. I worked in club storage cleaning members clubs and working the range. It was a great job and paid the awesome wage of $2.15 an hour. It’s fun to relive those days through Emma as I was also a junior golfer. It was a great experience as you learn discipline, patience, etiquette, and sportsmanship. All good skills to carry through for a lifetime….although I am still having trouble with the patience part of golf. It can be such a humbling sport.

I hope Emma sticks with it (and I hope Sarah takes an interest). I would love to have them join me for golf. We took Emma out for her first 9 holes last year and she managed to chip in on the last hole from about 30 yards off the green. We all got excited and jumped up and down. I don’t think Emma understood though, she assumed that was the point of the game. I had to tell her that it was relatively rare for that to happen.

As for the “active” part. I almost always walk and carry my clubs. A round of 18 holes easily burns more than 1000 calories and is great for your flexibility. Anyone who doesn’t think golf is a sport has never really played it. I don’t enjoy taking a drive cart really and it annoys me when I see young healthy people driving. It seems to defeat the whole point of golf. I love walking up the fairway carrying my bag and thinking about the next shot.

It’s all about challenging yourself.

5 | Finola

July 20th, 2010 at 7:43 pm


Whenever I see a golf course, all I can see are the images of the pesticides that they must use to keep all that grass looking so green. I’m wondering if golfers are concerned about the environmental impacts of golf courses. Are there “green” golf courses out there??

6 | Shan @ The Fairy Blogmother

July 20th, 2010 at 9:59 pm


Neither my husband or I play, but his Uncle is the golf reporter for our local paper and is on a radio show about golf. Various members of our family are pretty serious golfers. My husband has played in the past and spent a few years cutting fairways at one of the local courses. It’s just not a big interest for us.

On another note, I love your daughter’s dress. My 8 year old has the same one!

7 | Mrsgryphon

July 21st, 2010 at 1:03 am


I’ve taken lessons and was doing pretty well for a while… Until the girls arrived and now it’s been two years since I hit a ball and my poor clubs only get used by my brother-in-law. Our oldest daughter (4.5) wants to learn, though, and is really disappointed that none of the local schools will take kids younger than 7. Until then, I guess it’s mini putt!!

8 | Mark

July 21st, 2010 at 7:45 am


Finola: You make a good point about the pesticides and herbicides and fungicides used to make a golf course green and as a golfer I do have some concern over these things to a point. All I can say to that is that golf is not going away anytime soon so what needs to happen is change within the industry. I know that with the recent pesticide ban brought in, golf courses were exempt but that doesn’t tell the whole story. My understanding is that as part of the ban, golf courses have to have certified experts on staff to handle the use of chemicals and also must submit to regular inspections. Only the playing area can be treated (not the gardens and grounds). I have noticed a move at golf course towards naturalized areas, in fact there are areas in golf courses now where you are not allowed to go look for your ball as it will disturb the regeneration areas. It’s not perfect but it’s a step in the right direction. Personally speaking, I think many golf courses are over-manicured. I think the original intent of golf was to be one with the land, not bend the land to fit our image.

My two cents.

9 | bushidoka

July 21st, 2010 at 10:04 am


There is also a serious water use issue with golf courses. Wish I could recall details, but I heard something on CBC a year or two ago about a movement to green courses. Currently they are pretty bad on a number of fronts, as I recall the piece talking about.

10 | andrea

July 21st, 2010 at 11:54 am


I imagine that there is a growing concern about conservation of water as there is about use of herbicides.

11 | kgirl

July 21st, 2010 at 12:08 pm


I golf once a year at my company’s tournament, and it is not pretty. But it’s fun. Mostly because of the beer cart. Which obviously doesn’t come into play when it is children golfing.

12 | Amanda DeGrace

July 21st, 2010 at 12:09 pm


I spent many summers golfing as a kid, and then scored a great job baby sitting for the golf pro’s kids (meant getting to golf everyday while making money!) and loved every moment of it! Such a great activity that most don’t think of for kids. I am so glad that as an adult I know how to go out and hit a few balls should I want to.

13 | Redheadedmama

July 21st, 2010 at 8:42 pm


Just wanted to comment on the greening of golfing – I was giving my dad a hard time about golf courses using pesticide, so much water, etc., when he surprised me with a very knowledgeable response. He explained to me that his club takes sustainability very seriously and told me he sits on their eco-green-can’t quite remember what it is called-board (which surprised me as I didn’t think my dad gave much thought to the environment).
He explained that his club in Ottawa (the Hunt Club) has employed all sorts of new high tech software and equipment that helps reduce water consumption and that they are actually trying to get the city of ottawa to use their technology (at no cost!) as it monitors weather patterns and waters so as to minimize water use. They also go beyond provincial environmental and wildlife regulations and are striving to be leaders when it comes to respecting existing natural habitat, watershed and pesticide regulations. Of course, it isn’t perfect, because it is still a golf course that requires land, water, and a certain amount of upkeep, but given that golf is here to stay, on balance I was pleased to learn golfers are trying to do their best and in many cases are going above and beyond when it comes to environmental stewardship.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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