As the youngest son of a golf-mad dad, I know a thing or two about the lengths to which a father will go to get his kids out on the course. And while you can accomplish quite a bit with browbeating and brute force, the preferred approach these days — assuming you want your children to actually talk to you once you get them to the first tee, and maybe even enjoy themselves — recalls that old expression about getting more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Any self-respecting golf parent knows that bribery is a tried-and-true strategy. Whether it’s milkshakes or Mars bars, getting a kid to play golf is often akin to catching a fish; choosing the correct bait is half the battle — the half that involves getting them into the boat.
Ensuring they’re willing to stay there is another matter entirely.
Even the most patient, determined, challenge-oriented youngster is facing an uphill battle when it comes to golf. Counter-intuitive in every sense, golf is a game in which up is down, left is right, power is a paradox and effort is inversely proportional to success. Toss in pace-of-play frustrations and the attitudes of those members of the uppity country-club set who look down their noses at children, and you can hardly blame kids for wishing they were elsewhere.
But there’s a few strategies and products you can use to your advantage.
The first time I came home with one of Quagmire Golf’s new ColorFusion shirts (Yes, they’re based in Toronto, but we’ll forgive them for choosing to spell “colour” the American way), it was only the second time in their young golf careers that they’d ever actually grinned ear-to-ear and jumped up and down with excitement at the prospect of something to do with golf.
The first time was when I presented them each with a set of bright yellow Spongebob golf balls, and the second probably the time last April that I relinquished the remote control after six hours of Masters coverage, but I digress.
ColorFusion shirts, for the uninitiated, are simple, soft cotton golf shirts made primarily for kids in a growing variety of interesting, kid-friendly colours. The cool part is that the fabric changes shade entirely when it reaches a temperature of 20 C (68 F), resulting in a mind-blowing, ever-changing kaleidoscope of colour when body heat and the air temperature conspire to make it happen (which, by the way, is pretty much all the time). The 2011 line includes tie-dye patterns and T-shirts for $25-$39 Cdn.
To demonstrate the kid-seducing magic, I blew a white patch through the blue ColorFusion shirt that had just arrived for my youngest son, Lucas. His elder sister Claire got a girl’s version in purple, her all-time favourite colour, that turns pink in the heat.
“That is so cool,” the shaggy-haired Lucas exclaimed as he traded the shirt for the Nintendo 3DS he’d been staring at for more than an hour. I did a mental fist-pump.
I’ll post pictures when I can make them. You’d think photographing my kids on the golf course or practice range would be easy, but I’d probably have more success convincing a Yeti to sit for a portrait.
The deal is, the kids get to wear their shirts only when we go to the range or to the course. It’s not like they’re badgering me to take them every day, or that a cool shirt will suddenly turn them into the most enthusiastic golfers on the block. But the message gets through loud and clear: golf isn’t just for grownups, and there’s a growing variety of equipment and apparel out there to help them feel more like true golfers.
“It’s been crazy, man,” Quagmire co-founder Geoff Tait said of the line’s success during a break at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show earlier this year in Orlando. “We just had a tiny little (ColorFusion) section in the back of the golf catalogue, and we’ve blown it out because it actually sold better than our golf collection, our men’s and women’s stuff.”
Tait and co-founder Bobby Pasternak quickly realized they had discovered, almost by accident, an underserved segment of the market that was desperate for something designed expressly for them — a garment that retained existing golf conventions (it is still a polo shirt, after all) and splashed it with a generous helping of fun.
“You see the reaction when kids put these on. It’s like a toy. They’ve never gotten so much excitement out of wearing a shirt, which is crazy,” Tait said. “That’s what’s taking it to the next level. The target with this is just fun, instead of being so stodgy.”
Earlier this year, Quagmire sold its ColorFusion line with great success through the merchandise tent at the Puerto Rico Open. After maiden Tour player Chez Reavie helped the brand make a splash by winning the 2008 Canadian Open, Quagmire has turned to up-and-comers Aron Price, Joe Affrunti and Tag Ridings to sport the brand this year. Karen Stupples and Stephanie Louden are among the Quagmire crew currently playing on the LPGA Tour.