Your seven-year-old son lines up at the practice tee for a drive. You stand behind him for coaching purposes. He begins to raise his club for the swing.
“Make sure the club is lined up properly with the ball,” you say softly.
“I know dad,” the boy retorts, his voice a harsh whisper. Having had his swing interrupted, he resets his position.
“Don’t forget your follow-through,” you add.
“Dad. I know! Be quiet!” he whispers so loudly it’s more like a scream from a boy with his vocal chords removed than a whisper anymore. He turns and gives you a furious stare, his nostrils wide enough to fit golf balls into.
That’s not the right attitude to have, you decide. “Okay, okay,” you say, a feigned apology. Time to take the kid down a notch.
The boy turns back and begins to set up, but before he can draw back, you suck in a loud gasp and point to the rear of the practice tee.
“Look out!” you shout to your son.
He looks at you then, a look of genuine fear covering his face, follows the direction of your pointing index finger. He sees nothing because, of course, there is nothing there. While he is distracted, you make your move, snagging his Titleist match ball from the tee and replacing it with a hollow plastic toy ball from your pocket. When he turns back to you, you shrug and mutter something about thinking a sliced ball was heading straight for him, and apologize for your mistake.
The boy again takes his swing stance, not noticing you’ve pulled the ol’ switcheroo. Perfect.
He takes a swing, and the ball flies a pitiful handful of feet before catching in the wind and settling in the taller grass just beyond the practice tee.
Your son watches his whiff and his mouth falls agape. “How-?”
“Maybe if you spent more time listening to your coach,” you scold, driving your right thumb into your chest, “and less time telling him to be quiet, you wouldn’t have embarrassed yourself in front of the entire driving range!”
The boy frowns in shame and picks a spot in the grass just in front of his feet to stare at.
“Good, you should feel ashamed. That drive was beyond pathetic. Do it again.”
He does it again. He does it so many times, so often and with such intensity that he becomes a member of the PGA at age 17. He wins his first major before he can order a drink at a bar. In his victory press conference, he thanks his mother for always supporting him. Upon viewing this, you have a heart attack. Before dying, you manage to scrawl out “I have never been proud of you” on a nearby napkin, and you pass with a smile on your face.