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Dude … Back to Back

12 Sep

The Lakers did it with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic and then Shaq. The Boston Celtics did it with Bill Russell. The 49ers did it with Joe Montana. The Yankees did it with Derek Jeter. The Duke Blue Devils did it with Laettner and Hill. The Detroit Redwings did it with Steve Yzerman.

Back to Back.

Normally I don’t enjoy these back to back championship people. I’m all about spreading the wealth. However today … today I was celebrating a huge victory in The Guat Household — a back to back champion, and no I’m not referring to my high school days where my yearbook claims my baller skills lead my team to victory. Yeah I was a baller back then, but I was also skinnier and more sprightly.

No. This back to back champion stands at 42 inches tall and weighing in at 34 pounds.

He is my Abdul-Jabbar, my Russell, my Montana, my Jeter, my Laettner, my Yzerman. He is my son … The Little Guat. Reigning Tiny Tots Back to Back Golf Champion. Winner of the elusive green I-Got-Skills shirt.

My Little Champion Season 2

My Little Champion Season 1

The summer season was a little different. A different coach, a different group, a different feel. Not too many words of the week, but plenty of lessons in character and funny moments.

This season the class was a little crowded with plenty of energetic future US Open Winners.

The Young Golf Posse

However I’ll have to admit that there were two crazy parents that would fit right in with the beauty pageant parent circuit. Needless to say that when the coach decided to divide the class into two groups so that the championship challenge rounds and classes would go faster and be more one-on-one, we volunteered immediately for the earlier session, as did a few others. Smart people think alike.

Group A waiting to play hole #1

We began the golf challenges by playing the first hole, where my son whacked the crap out of the grass and the ball to land on the green. This would have been pretty impressive by itself, but considering the obstacle it was amazing. For a little extra challenge, the sprinklers began popping up and watering various parts of the grass. My son’s golf ball decided to rip passed the water in front of him and find itself on the green. He did a victory run through the sprinklers as did the other kids, because apparently that’s how four-year old golfers roll. I did my little woo-hoo, skipped the sprinklers, and smiled as we headed to the second hole for the chipping challenge.

My son focused as any four-year old could be with  championship M&Ms awaiting all golfers at the end.

My son running after his golf balls, one of which landed in the inner circle.

This time around the chipping challenge wasn’t his WOW moment as it had been during the spring season.  But he managed to swing away, slinging mud and grass everywhere, and land within putting distance.

Then came the dreaded putting challenge. The most mental part of the game, where you really need your kid to focus, however he remained completely interested in the rollie-pollies hanging around the course. But despite his rollie-pollie enthusiasm, this happened to be the WOW moment the earned him the green shirt.

The Putting Challenge

My son jumping with excitement as he birdied the hole.

He had two opportunities to rack up points here . Usually it takes three to four strokes for my little man to put the ball in the hole. The average for the class is four. My son happened to do it in two. Two! And not once, but twice. Twice! So I knew it wasn’t a fluke. Each kid had three balls and they needed to play two out of three. One landed in the circle, about a foot away from the hole, the other two landed on the outer rim of the circle. He was asked to play the outer rim balls and he scored. Two strokes, two birdies, two woo-hoos from mom, and two smiles in The Guat family. High-fives all around, no sprinklers.

The Driving Range Challenge

Last but not least was the driving range challenge, where all he had to do was get it over the little gorge. He was up last and despite the other kids spinning around in circles, pretending to be superheroes, he managed to swing away and reach the other side.

After tallying the points my little Guat ended up in first.

In truth I was a little surprised that he won again. That’s a pretty crappy thing to say as a mom. But kids are unpredictable and I wasn’t sure he would do the back to back thing. Golf is not easy, especially when rollie-pollies and superheroes are involved. But my little dude earned the coveted green shirt — The green I Got Skills Shirt for the second time in a row, and I hugged him proudly.

Although once again he was pretty excited about the championship candy, this time being M&Ms. After being handed his shirt, a sleeve of Titleist golf balls, and a bag of M&Ms, he held the packet up high and said:

“YES! Mom. YES! I got my M&Ms.”

But seeing how he was a back-to-back champion, I thought he needed more than just M&Ms.

His championship reward at Baskin-Robbins a.k.a 31 Flavors.

Turns Out I Didn’t Need That KitKat

14 Jun

Thousands of fans crowded the streets of Los Angeles smiling, cheering, clapping, and raising their fists in the air in conjunction with their WOO-HOOS. They were celebrating the Kings finally winning the Stanley Cup.

I’m a Kings fan. Did I make the trek? Was I there?

No.

I was busy cheering on the only athlete that mattered today. My son.

It was the big Golf Challenge today. Kids and parents ready for this mini Master’s Tournament to begin.  I knew my son could do well. He had a chance to win that awesome green shirt — our version of the elusive green blazer awarded at The Master’s. If everything went right, he had a chance. But three-year olds are unpredictable. One minute they’re focused on chipping and putting on the green, the next minute they see a Rollie-pollie and it’s on. Insects rule!

So it could be anyone’s game. In light of this fact, I came prepared. I brought an extra KitKat. I mean I would be proud of my son’s efforts no matter what. First, second, or third. My son was still awesome to me. However, sometimes a three-year old doesn’t see it that way, so I brought his chocolate of choice.

I put it in the bag and we were off.

Coach Jeff created a great set of challenges throughout the golf academy. Each kid got an opportunity to hit three golf balls at every challenge. This would test the skills we learned throughout the Spring. They teed off, chipped onto the green, did some putting, and hit the driving range.

Everyone seemed to do great teeing off. Every kid got points and it remained pretty even until the chipping challenge. For those non golfers out there, chipping happens when the ball is just a few yards away from the putting green and the golfer hits the ball in a way that it pops up in the air and rolls onto the green. It’s supposed to be a smooth move, but sometimes balls land in the sand trap and that’s where golfers lose it. But that did not happen today.

Coach Jeff had three rings around the hole and each ring earned points. I was little nervous, but my son got up there with confidence. We tried to set him up and then he paused.

“Where’s my golf glove. I need it.”

I laughed. I took out the miniature black-and-white FootJoy golf glove, which was still a little too big in the thumb area and gave it to Coach Jeff. After a couple of minutes, he finally put it on my son and placed the ball on the grass.

“You can do it.”

This was my last piece of advice.

I couldn’t believe that my son almost got a hole-in-one. He was inches away from the hole and all the parents cheered. It was sweet. Two out of the three shots landed in the inner circle and he racked up the points. I was so proud of him.

He did well. There was no speed golf or hockey play on the putting green, either. At times, my son prefers playing at 80 MPH when he needs to be going  1 MPH. But that wasn’t the case today. Must’ve been the glove.

He was focused when he needed to be and showed good sportsmanship as well. And that was thing … sportsmanship and courtesy. It was in abundance that day, from parents and kids. It was great to be in a friendly sports challenge, where it was actually friendly. No crazy moms or dads were there. No reality-tv-drama attitude. Everyone was very encouraging, even when it took kids a while to get to the hole, everyone cheered. The self-esteem was rockin’.

The I-Got-Skills Shirt

So when the challenge was finished, we made our way back to the clubhouse. We saw the prized green shirt — just like the green jacket from the Master’s. Well … probably not like that, but it was still the first prize. The points were tallied. Coach called up sixth, fifth, and fourth place finishers.

Then there were only three. Then two. Then one. Turns out, I didn’t need the KitKat after all. I knew he had done well. The chipping. It was the chipping. He had totaled 465 points. And that had earned him the green shirt and a Tootsie Roll pop.

Apparently it was the best Tootsie Roll pop he had ever tasted.

The Lesson Was on Me This Time

7 Jun

When something goes wrong, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?Judgement — as in what were you thinking?

Making a decision and thinking before you do something. You take many things into consideration before making a decision. Think before you swing. Think. Listen, and make a good decision. This was what we talked about at golfing school today. And although this was the word of the week for my son and his three and four-year old golf school classmates, I think it was more of a heads-up for the parents.

The Spring Competition is next week. All the golf skills he practiced and learned at school will get tested before the spring session ends. It’s the end of the semester fun skills test. Key word here is fun. The kids are supposed to have fun. They’ll do everything from putting, chipping, and swinging away on the range.

Judgement on the putting green

I informed my son of the championship and just told him it would be a contest and all he had to do was his best. Listen, focus, and do your best, and we’ll be fine next week. We’ll practice, but not too much.

Sometimes parents get all crazy when it comes to their kids and sports. They might not get pageant crazy, like those moms on the TLC show with Little Miss Sunshine weird-looking toddlers with makeup and crowns, but sometimes the parent wants to win more than the kid. And that’s when the craziness begins.

In truth I’m competitive myself, but I’ve seen those parents press their kids and then the entire experience just sucks for everybody. So I try not to do that. I’m hoping I don’t get crazy, and knowing me I won’t. I’ll check myself. But I can see some parents on that trip, without a self-checker.

I’m hoping my son will do all right. In truth he has a pretty good chance of winning but anything can happen. While some kids take two strokes to sink the ball on the green, which is pretty awesome, my son in his best hockey stance takes about ten swings, or at least he did so today. He averaged seven today. He gives me the thumbs up when the ball finally rolls into the hole. He’s pretty pleased with himself.

I shake my head and smile. “Good try. Good try.”

“Yes. It was a good try. I was great.”

Judgement. Judgement tells me not to act like that crazy parent that yells in frustration and tells his kid to do it right or else they’re not leaving.

Judgement tells me to smile, give him a thumbs up in return, and say: “Yeah, you are great, all we need is a little more practice before the championship contest next week. But for now, how about some Goldfish Crackers?”

“Yeah. Goldfishes for me being great.”

 

 

My Three-Year Old Son, Golfing School, and the Courtesy Incident

31 May

Last week the word for the day was perseverance.

“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM!”

“What!”

“Watch this swing.”

“Dude. I’m totally looking at you.”

Ball does not go in the hole.

“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM!”

He knew perseverance. It really didn’t have to be explained to him when we were on the course. He had the concept. It’s the competitive side in him. 

This week however the word of the day was courtesy. Something that all three-year olds and hostile moms who drive Exagerators that steal your parking spaces should know. This is the key to a peaceful existence everywhere not just on the golf course. It’s too bad not too many people go to golf school with their kids. We’d have better parking lot situations if they did.

Courtesy. Coach Jeff tried to explain the basics on that one. You are polite. You are nice to other golfers on the course while you play. You wait your turn and you don’t talk when someone is swinging.

Pretty simple. We thought everyone got the concept. So we went right to it.

He hit a bucket of balls on the driving range and played the first hole on the course. It was his first time playing any course. The coach’s original plan was to play the first two holes, but three and four-year olds do not necessarily put the ball in the hole after three tries. More like ten.

It took about an hour for six kids to play one hole. Let me tell you, sunscreen rocks at that point.

The First Tee.

Most of the parents were courteous and encouraging. We all knew our kids, so it was fine. There was no rolling of the eyes or sighs of exasperation. But we did have a one or two kids and dads just putting away and swinging while other kids were trying to tee off. Coach Jeff continued his “courtesy” reminders. But getting hit with a golf ball … that’ll work. No reminders needed. Hey, live and learn. Live and learn the hard way on the golf course.

Anyhow after the hour was done and we got a nice tan, we headed back to the clubhouse. Coach Jeff was pleased that all the kids tried their best and busted out the rewards. The Tootsie Roll Lollipop. The chewy chocolate candy that usually comes out of pinatas was right there within reach.

My son was excited of course and decided to rush Coach Jeff.

“You have to be courteous, remember. That little boy was in front of you. Wait your turn. Courtesy.”

“Right!” He repeated as he lined up behind the little boy. “Courtesy. Mom. I’m being courtesy.” 

My son waited and it was finally his turn. As he reached for the orange lollipop, another kid walked in from outside approached Coach Jeff and tried to take the same one. My son looked up at me then at Coach Jeff with this hey-hey-hey-what’s-the-hell-is-going-on-here look.

Coach Jeff removed the Tootsie Pops away from reach and reminded the other little boy about the word of the day. The kid didn’t take it well. His mom was the lady in that drove the Exagerator. It didn’t surprise me. The kid went to the back of the line, upset.

Coach Jeff took out the Tootsie Roll Pops again and my son smiled. He grabbed the orange one and walked toward me.

“Look mom. Here is my reward. Coach Jeff said I was great golfing today. I am courtesy too.” 

Then he turns to look at the boys still waiting for their Tootsie Roll pops and then looks back at me, points, and whispers.

“He was not courtesy, mom.  He tried to take my lollipop. No lollipop for him, only a timeout.”

My Three-Year Old’s Definition of Confidence and Golf School

14 May

Some people have too much of it. Some people have too little. Either way that’s a problem. There has to be some kind of balance otherwise you can be an insecure basket case or just an ass.

As a writer confidence is a concept that comes and goes. One day you think you’ve written one of the best pieces of your life, only to have it rejected with a generic it’s-not-you-it’s-me letter from the publisher. Other days someone sees your writing and a small compliment can set you straight. All you ever need is a boost.

I learned this a long time ago, but was reminded of it by my son.

Confidence was the word of the week at my son’s golf school. “Believe in yourself. You can do it.” This is how I helped define it for him. Confidence combined with the putting green was something I found hilarious.

The Putting Green

All the ball has to do is go in the hole, whether you’re two feet away or ten feet away the mind games begin. So this is when the you-can-do-it-believe-in-yourself phase commences.

There they were … my son’s classmates lining up and knocking down the two-footers in one or two strokes. Then they’d move on to the next hole and repeat.

Then comes my son. One stroke. Two strokes. Ball still outside the hole. He looks at the ball confused. He steps back, pauses and examines the situation with all of his three-year old golf experience. He lines up again. Three. Four. Ball in the hole.

“I did it! I did it! Coach Jeff. I did it mom. The ball went in the hole.”

I smile. He comes over to high-five me and then goes on to hole No.2.

Throughout all the practice holes on the putting green I noticed the other kids making hole-in-ones. I noticed my son observing. I thought he would feel bad, and I was ready to cheer him up and tell him not to worry, that every golfer was different. But that didn’t happen. He got a little frustrated from time to time, but kept going. The best putt was hole No. 7, where he made it in two attempts.

He came back to the beginning and smiled.

As he drank his Gatorade, I asked him how he did.

“I did good. I have confidence, but my ball was not working.”

“Are you sure? I think they were all working.”

“No. No it wasn’t. The ball didn’t have confidence. But I made it anyways. We were winners. We believe in myself.”

Confidence.

My Three-Year Old’s Definition of Respect and Golf School

3 May

You’re talking and you wonder do they get it? They hear me, but are they listening? That happens often in my family.

But then I think about my son and smile. Sometimes he gets it, he hears me and listens …

My son continues his preschool sabbatical and is currently enjoying the teachings of Coach Jeff at golf school. Last week’s word of the day was sportsmanship. He seemed to learn that one quickly as he gave Coach Jeff a high-five and said: “Good game, Coach Jeff.”

This week’s word of the day was respect. He got the ten minute speech at the beginning of class. Coach Jeff  defined the word and explained that you should treat others as you would like to be treated.

Then my son whispers to me: “Mom, what’s treated?”

“It’s your behavior with other people. How you act. Your attitude. Remember good attitude. Good behavior to other people and people will have good behavior to you. Be nice to other people and they will be nice to you. Listen to other people and they will listen to you. Good attitude to Coach Jeff and your teammates, and they will show you good attitude.”

“Oh. Yes. Good attitude. Good behavior. Listen. I treat people, and they will treat me. I behave good, they behave good to me too. Respect.”

“Yes. Always show respect.” 

He smiled and we were off to the driving range. Each kid went to their stall and began swinging away.  They were reminded how to properly hold the club and how to follow through on their swing. My son improved his grip  … well at least for a second, and then he went back to a hockey-style swing, and then back to his golf grip again. It’s a learning process and he enjoys class. He’s smacking them pretty good and I was pretty proud of him.

Then after he finished half the bucket of balls he took a quick two-minute-Goldfish-crackers-and-Gatorade break. As he stood there checking out his classmates swing away. He noticed a couple of boys weren’t really into the driving range thing. They are off jumping like frogs, checking out the grass, or rolling around in their stalls. 

Then one of the kids who was hanging out in the grassy knoll, pretending he was a butterfly picked up a ball and threw it at one of the kids attempting to put Coach Jeff’s teachings in effect. Poor Jay. He had the right grip and the right posture, just as he turned his little three-year old body to begin his swing, in came a flying golf ball and hit him on the cheek.

Coach Jeff was on the other side helping out other kids so he didn’t witness the incident. But butterfly boy’s dad was there, and so was Jay’s.  The dad’s had a little pow-wow about the incident and Jay sat out a little bit until the pain subsided.

“That was not nice, mom. He did not treat Jay. That was not respect. I think he will be in timeout.”

I don’t have to wonder whether my son”gets it”. He hears me and listens. Perhaps when he’s in middle school I’ll begin to worry, but for now he continues to learn lessons.

My Three-Year Old’s Definition of Integrity and Golf School

19 Apr

Considering that I was a golf widow, I wasn’t going to do it. I thought, why lose another one. But this one would be different. This is my son. He’s awesome.

If you don’t know what a golf widow is, you should check out my post The Golf Widow’s Revenge. If your dude, husband, or partner plays golf, or is even thinking of playing golf, you should definitely read it. An enlightening nice perspective.

Anyhow, since my son’s been on hiatus from preschool, I decided to find some sort of program where he could engage in conversation with other three-year olds. Hang out with his peeps. One friend suggested some Mommy & Me group and I sort of hesitated.

I told her I didn’t have anything against this Mommy & Me group, or her, seeing how she’s the guru of all things Mommy & Me, but when we tried to hang with these chicks when my son was younger we didn’t quite fit in. I think I had the wrong diaper bag, the wrong set of snacks  and the wrong set of shoes.

Heels to a park? C’mon now. 

As for the diaper bag, apparently you can own designer diaper bags. The three-hundred dollar kind. They exist. Id’ rather take that three-hundred and go to Legoland four times. As for the snacks, well, pretzels, cheese sticks, Cutie Oranges, and Gatorade were frowned upon. I don’t know why, seemed pretty good to me. I never understood. 

Whatever. I wasn’t going to go through that situation again, so I decided to stick with my kind of people … sports.

A golf ball directly before the hole

A golf ball directly before the hole (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After searching community bulletins and the parks department services, I found a golf academy that catered to kids his age. I was pretty excited because he didn’t meet the age requirement for The First Tee program, but this program started with three-year olds. Sweet. 

As I geared him up to go to golfing school, he was hesitant at first. Didn’t want to go because he thought I would just drop him off. But after explaining how it worked, he was very excited.

When we got there, he grabbed his clubs, raced out of the car, and ran up the ramp.

He was introduced to Coach Jeff and learned some golf etiquette, well at least tried to learn it.

Integrity. That was the word of the day. He was told what it meant and how he always needed to do the right thing and be honest, especially on the course.

Apparently if you lose a ball into the bushes and can’t find it, you can hit another ball, but you have to call out provisional. Sort of a second chance, but you’re penalized and given another stroke.

I didn’t think he would understand the concept, but he kept repeating the word integrity, the phrase ‘do the right thing’, and the word provisional.

In their little stalls each kid got six golf balls. Six. They were supposed to hit them onto the green, aiming for the circles drawn out near the hole. Once they finished chipping the ball over to the green, they were supposed to run and collect their six golf balls and repeat the exercise.

Scrambling for golf balls.

During one of their scrambles to get their six balls, one kid had seven and my son says:

“Mommy I tell the boy only six balls and he didn’t listen. He did not do the right thing. I tell him. I tell him. He lose his yellow ball and take two white balls … he did not say provisional. He did not do integrity. He did not.”

I smiled. He was awesome and I couldn’t have been prouder. 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through

28 Mar

I'm through with you ...

 

I’m through with this love-hate relationship.

I’m through with the mind games on the putting green when I’m two feet away from the hole.

I’m through with the missed putt, bogeys, double bogeys, and snowballs.

I’m through envisioning my Titleist going straight and then it psyching me out as it slices to the right.

I’m through with the cart girl not having my preferred hops beverage.

I’m through watching the Hank Haney Project in hopes that I’ll improve.

I’m through with messing up the next shot after a great drive.

I’m through with the sand trap and it adding strokes to my game.

I’m through with blading a chip/pitch into the lake.

I’m through with golf swing analysis.

I’m through having patience.

I’m through with Caddy Shack …  nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah

 … maybe not.

 

The Golf Widow’s Revenge

9 Jan

‘Till death do you part…that or golf.

We had an understanding in our marriage. Sports were awesome, a unifying factor, if you will, and then he discovered the TaylorMades, Pings, Titleists, Callaways, and the pinche Golf Channel. Most women on the East Coast got it lucky, their dudes only golf in the Spring or Summer when the sun is shining, but here in the Golden State it’s golfing weather year-round. God-damn 15th Century Scots.

English: Fairway wood positioned near golf ball

Image via Wikipedia

Here in California we got the scenic coastal courses and the desert courses designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer, Pete Dye, Greg Norman, and all the other golf legends in polyester plaid attire. But the course doesn’t even have to be good-looking. It can be next to a garbage dump and this dude will pick up his golf bag at 6 a.m. to hit the links.

Our original arrangement was that he got one day during the week to do what ever he wanted and that usually included a golf outing. I knew he liked golf. I knew he played golf. I was aware. It wasn’t like a slow process of discovery. It was part of the deal and I accepted it. I mean I played golf. Granted I suck, but I play and figured it was something we could do every once in a while. We were family now, right? No matching visors. No his and hers sweaters. Just golf.

Dude. I realized…nobody wants their chick with them on the golf course, unless she drives the beverage cart. Well maybe just one percent of guys enjoy their partner’s presence on the green, but the 99 percent that remains…well…

Little by little it became more than a day or afternoon. It was 10-to-12 hour adventure. From dawn to dusk. Then, during the week he began with the driving range and the putting green and then God help me the Haney Project. It infested the house like a rodent. I had become a Golf Widow, which is weird seeing as most Latino women are futbooooooooooool widows.  But no…golf became his passion, and the kids, the Huggies Diapers, the dog, the tub needing Ajax, the bills, college football, tailgating, triathlon training, bike riding, cooking, movies, HBO, and reading bed time stories…this had become my new adventure.

He worked and golfed. I disappeared into finding the humor in single motherhood and situations like poop in underwear, or not being able to shower everyday because I had two kids to entertain. I wondered why I began looking like I lived through the Grapes of Wrath and he had this Coppertone glow about him. I began imagining what would happen if his clubs mysteriously disappeared into the Goodwill Donation box until my son picked up one of his clubs and began swinging away. He was two at the time. I didn’t want to make his future bride a golf widow herself, so I immersed myself in the sport with him and we became golf buddies. I taught him the art of sharing and having golf buddies, like mom, and not just boys. Hope it sticks.

My son showed such an interest that he got his own miniature set of clubs. A driver, a wood, and a putter. I taught him how to hold the club, swing the club, and most importantly keep his eye on the ball. This went on for some time before his dad realized that our son had picked up the sport and became quite good swinging away at the driving range. My husband began putting in his own two cents and watching golf with our son. I thought I had lost my little one and then that’s when it happened…

All of us had gone to the driving range. My son was as excited as always for his bucket of golf balls to come charging out of the machine. We found a spot in line and set up. Old, young, middle-aged…all these men smiled as my son passed by in his little golf bag and set himself up. He began placing the range balls on the tee and swinging away, most of them were great, others trickled off the padding. But for the most part he made good contact.

It was a proud moment I didn’t think it could get any better and then it did.

The golf professional passed by and my son continued swinging. My husband began chit-chatting with golf-pro, hand on my son’s shoulder, beaming and smiling from ear-to-ear as I sat on the bench in the background, like an unplugged soda machine.

Then the pro told my son: “You are a good golfer…”

“Am am I good golfer.”

“And who taught you to play golf this well?” He asked, while looking at my husband. My husband smiled and gave our son a pat on the back.

My son smiled and said….”Mom. My mom.”

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sweet.