Father and son share time on the links

SLO County golf courses offer endless opportunities for bonding

For me, golf is about life – it has ups and downs, twists and turns, the “almost” and the “amazing.” Golf is a lifelong sport that oftentimes masks life’s realities. It’s a great teacher of how to remain calm in distress, and how to be humble in times of triumph. My cousin, eight years my senior, brought me into the game at a young age. Now, 22 years later, I still play and enjoy sharing my love of golf with my son on the San Luis Obispo County Golf Courses – Diary Creek, Morro Bay, and Chalk Mountain.   

Time slows down on the course

Personally, as a young dad who is also a golfer, I have found there are endless benefits to being out on the links. First off, I just like doing things with my son, period. One of my favorite things about golfing with him is that time seems to slow down. 

We’re away from the ever-present 2014 electronic device world – iPhones, iPads, i-This and iThat are left behind at home or in the car. Out on the golf course, whether we’re playing nine holes or just out on the driving range and putting area, we’ll spend 2-3 hours in a relaxing setting, solely focused on each other and our beautiful surroundings.  

Beautiful courses

It’s a toss-up which course is our favorite. It’s hard to beat Morro Bay because of the ocean view; however, Dairy Creek is equally magical. In the evenings, there are often deer on the course, hawks swooping across the drooping sun, and the soft “hoot” from an owl. Besides the golf, it’s like my five year old son and I are on a San Luis Obispo nature walk.  

Chalk Mountain is very much the same, especially in the late spring and summer. On those long hot nights, it’s a treat to head out of SLO Town to meet up with our North County friends and spend late evenings swinging golf clubs and catching with another young family.  

Mixing it up with the locals

It’s funny being on the course with my young son. The “locals” spot us early and often seem to enjoy seeing us out together on the course. Golf is such a great sport in general. To this point, the more mature players and golf course employees have been supportive of a young child being out there with me. “Hey,” they chuckle, “here comes the next Phil Mickelson, huh?” Meanwhile, as we laugh and start up a conversation, my little lefty will tee up another ball to smash.  

In all reality though, I don’t take my son golfing to develop a pro golfer; I really don’t care about that at all. The only thing I care about is hanging with my boy! Yet that doesn’t mean it’s not intense fun. 

Focusing on each other

On the putting green, we bend down on one knee as we look for all of the juts and turns the ball may take on a long putt. We talk like PGA Pros, assessing inconsequential putts as if we’re about to win the Master’s, and we go for the hole-in-one. On the driving range, we swing our drivers hard, and each try to impress the other, hitting the ball as far as possible...slapping a high-five for a successful shot and erupting in laughter at a terrible whiff!  

On the course, we stare each other down in fierce competition, attempt to win the prize, cringe at a missed putt, and jump-hug on a great shot. All in all, we look each other in the eye, present and in the “moment.” Golfing together, we are truly happy because we are not only together, but we are focusing on each other. 

Family fun adventure

To all the moms, dads, uncles, and cousins out there looking for more bonding moments with your young kids, if you haven’t hit the links yet, give it a try! Take it from me – I am NOT a great golfer, I just love my son and spending time with him. It just keeps getting better each time we head out to Dairy Creek, Morro Bay, or Chalk Mountain – and we hope more families will join us in this fun adventure we call golf.

For more information on golf programs at San Luis Obispo County Golf Courses – Dairy Creek, Morro Bay, and Chalk Mountain, visit www.slocountyparks.com/facilities/golfcourses or call (805) 782-8060. 

Shawn Tracht - is a local school teacher and freelance writer/ photographer living in SLO County.