“Golf is boring. It’s something only grownups like.”
Spoken with the true wisdom that only a 14-year-old boy possesses. And with the true wisdom that only the mom of a 14-year-old boy possesses, I suggested to my husband Matt that perhaps he was, shall we say, less than likely to persuade our son Tommy otherwise. Generally speaking, one’s father is not the arbiter of cool when one is fourteen.
But that’s where Roger comes in. Roger, who once caddied for Jack Nicklaus. Roger, who is able to use baseball analogies when he’s teaching a 14-year-old to hit off the tee. Roger, who quite clearly is cool. (Sorry Matt.)
Roger King is the golf pro at Sugarbush Resort and it’s obvious about five minutes after meeting him that he not only knows golf, but he also knows kids and how to talk to them and generate real enthusiasm even for hitting balls at the driving range. Tommy and Matt and my 11-year-old son Teddy spent an hour doing just that under his tutelage on a glorious August day.
I’m not a golfer, and so was just along to observe as Roger helped Tommy and Teddy, who were absolute novices, and Matt, who has been working on his game for a few years. He moved seamlessly among the three of them, offering just the right tips and encouragement (though no false praise – he kept telling Matt that he was “moving in the right direction” after he watched some adequate tee shots) and offering golfing pearls of wisdom such as, “Have your tee as high as possible – it gives you a visual and feel for the club rotation and momentum.” and, to Tommy, “Use your baseball skills to get you feeling the momentum of the club.”
He showed Tommy how to keep from rotating his shoulders and helped Teddy move from an axe chop to a swing with his club. And perhaps most impressively of all, he eliminated Matt’s slice and helped him consistently hit long, straight tee shots by telling him (as Matt can recite verbatim now) “to move his shoulders into his backswing a bit and remember to follow through his swing by rotating the club head slightly.” Apparently this was the perfect prescription – although I may not know too much golf, even I could see that Matt was hitting about twice as well after his lesson.
So Tommy isn’t the only one who thinks Roger is cool.
And we now have three enthusiastic golfers in our family.
A bonus about learning to golf at Sugarbush is of course that you are doing so in the heart of the Green Mountains. There are nothing but views on the course and just walking it is a pure pleasure, the mountains framing every shot. Three foxes ran across the driving range while the boys had their lesson and the sky was a brilliant blue. We headed out onto the course so the boys could play a few holes after their lesson and even though I wasn’t playing, it was a delight just to be outside in the mountains.
We won’t be back in Vermont as a family this fall, but if we were, I’d definitely plan another family golfing event for my boys – it’s the perfect afternoon activity. An hourlong family golf lesson like the one we had costs about $90 and you can follow it up (as we did) with a yummy lunch at the course restaurant Hogan’s Pub, which serves up sandwiches with a side of mountain views, which in the fall are sure to be a particularly spectacular riot of color.
Now that the boys have gotten out on the links, they are as enthusiastic to continue their education at Sugarbush Resort as they always are about the things they do there, whether that’s taking ski lessons or going to summer camp. Lucky for us, during the summer months Sugarbush offers camps and clinics for kids and teens. I think I know family golfing will be on our agenda for summer 2017….Roger that.
The Golf Club at Sugarbush Resort is open through the end of October.
Mara Gorman may live at sea level now, but she’s a native New Englander and mountain aficionado who grew up skiing in Vermont. She spends as many days each winter as she can chasing her two teen boys through glades and across mogul fields and regularly journeys far and wide to get on the slopes. Mara blogs about her family’s many travel adventures at The Mother of all Trips. She is also the author of The Family Traveler’s Handbook and an award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared in various USA Today print publications as well as on websites such as BBC Travel. When there’s no snow, Mara and her family can be found hiking, biking and eating around the United States and Europe.