Well played that man

I hope that Almanac community can allow a little indulgence on my behalf as I share with you a story that I’m sure many of you have similarly experienced as parents. It might also go some way to explaining to the uninitiated why golf is the most addictive sport ever invented.

I’ve got two kids, Caitlin 13 and Dylan who is 15. As a person who comes from a good football pedigree I suppose you always hoped that your kids will do well at footie or on whatever sporting field they chose to run around. Cait had an initial dip into the world of ballet as a 6 year old following in the pointed footsteps of my wife. She was as graceful as a duck. After the end of year concert she swapped the leotard for footie boots and started having a run with the local junior under 7s. As they had plenty of kids we were able to field two teams and I ended up taking on a coaching role, which continued for a further six years. On the footie field the duck blossomed into tenacious bigger duck but she never gave up a fight and perfected the quick give. Caitlin also had worked out a brilliant strategy that provided her with a bit of extra time. She had “girl germs” and the boys weren’t coming near her. I utilised this to good affect by placing the two other girls in the teams with her in the same zone establishing an impenetrable wall of female bacteria. Probably my most enjoyable moments were not actually on the football filed but travelling to and from the games. We would yap and listen to the Coodabeen Champions. Great stuff and very special time for a dad.

Dylan was playing in the age group above and, being very slight and vertically challenged, was type cast in the role of the small forward. He had a real dip and chimed in for some handy goals on many occasions. His lot would have been easier had we realised earlier that he couldn’t see the footie until it basically hit him on the head. Eye sight rectified with contacts he soon found the game was much easier when you can see past the goal square. However, as he moved into the under 14s he also played teams with lots of bigger kids, not that he ever shirked it. His team had a large bench which he was spending a fair bit of time sitting on. When the time came to go the under 16, he decided that footie was off the agenda. Caitlin had also had enough of silly boys and she has since moved on to soccer where the local girl’s side provides significant more opportunity for social interaction and talking. Something she excels at.

Dylan decided he would mind trying golf. My coaching and work commitments had limited my own golfing expeditions to a few minor outing a year. However, some former playing partners called and suggested that it was time to get the band back together ala the Blues Brothers. This fuelled what was becoming an obsessive flame within my son. Any chance to practice was relished and soon his game started to come together. My old sticks were replaced with set of Calloways and now he was set.

The thing about golf is that players are handicapped. This in theory allows you to compete on level terms with every golfer in the world. It is also a game that provides participants with the opportunity to achieve many “firsts”. In footie, your first goal or mark or flag is just that. Any repetition of these feats is just going over the same ground but in different ways. In golf, you can have you first par on a hole, your first chip in, you first birdie and so on and so on. Personal benchmarks constantly change. You aim to break a hundred, then ninety, then eighty with the elusive par round always the ultimate goal. Dylan for the past 10 months has been having a “first” every time he goes to play or practice.

School holidays provide senior golfers with their worst nightmare. Junior golfers with unlimited time for golf and inevitable progress that comes from hours upon hours of practicing. Dylan had only played to his handicap once previously. That all changed last Wednesday when he saluted with 40 stableford point or four under his handicap. It was his first win, other than a frozen chock in the summer Chicken Run, so there was plenty of smiles not to mention a little puff of the dad’s chest. Determined to improve, he continued his relentless practice, riding to the Club each days before appearing on the 18th around dusk. He would tell me every detail of his practice round and, of course, what new “firsts” he had achieved that day. My wife, fearing that she had lost her son to clutches of the Ancient game, had suggested some alternate activities, none of which were contemplated. Even an offer to go to the coast was declined.

No, Dylan was on a mission and the target was the yesterday’s comp. Canberra awoke to bitter winter morning following some 3 inches of rain the previous evening. The forecast was for showers and snow in the ranges with strong winds. Perfect conditions for an obsessed golfer. After consulting the Bureau of Meteorology we were assured that a window of opportunity might avail itself after lunch. The band assembled and off we went into abyss which is winter golf. Three and half hours later we emerged relatively unscathed other than the dented egos of our golfing partners who were soundly beaten by the Robb boys. In reality they had been soundly beaten by a 15 year old who had returned to the clubhouse with 44 points or eight under handicap winning the comp by 6 shots.

There is no greater joy than seeing your children achieve success no matter what endeavour than may be in. The smile on Dylan’s face was only bettered by mine as I’d had the privileged of watching a young boy make another small step towards adulthood. His discipline and focus, not a constant in a teenage boys, was tremendous. His personal “firsts” list had grown some more, but not as much as my pride. Well played mate.

About Tony Robb

A life long Blues supporter of 49 years who has seen some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't Mick Malthouse driving a train.


  1. Nice one Tony.

    My daughter Charlotte used to play (only girl)in the Upper Burnie Primary School soccer team when she was in Grade 5.

    She was (still is) as blind as a bat and used to wear the coke bottle glasses.

    All the boys in her team were rough and tumble but they always accepted and encouraged her, even if she rarely got a kick.

    Once they managed to beat the top side. Her delight immediately post game and heading home in the car, was infectious.

    Now she is 20 and quite stunning (of course dad, everyone’s daughter is) and the boys are happy they used to be nice to her.

  2. Tony Robb says

    I concur with the infectious nature of your kids success. Unfortunately his improvement on the golf course is not contagious as his old man struggles with the short shots. Dylan kicked a goal to win a game a few years back against the local rivals and I went off like a frog in a sock. More high fives than the Harlem Globe Trotters

  3. May I offer a potential solution.

    Try to hit them longer. Dylan may be able to help you with the tweeking.

  4. Tony Robb says

    Cheers, I’ll take that on board thank phantom. The boys at the Club are getting some milage out him regularly flogging his father. We team up tomorrow in a 4BBB championship quarter final. Lets hope I can contribute a bit on the score card rather than just writng down the scores

  5. When the going gets tough………..

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