Saturday, April 18, 2009

Flying By Yourself

It’s one of the hardest moments for a parent – letting go of your children and letting them fly by themselves. Sam went with the Belgian national team to compete at the French Boys International. He hesitated. He doesn’t know many of them and wondered whether he could measure up. I wondered about letting him travel by himself, and face the pressure of an international tournament, and the pressure of being alone.

The results were mixed. After playing with Belgium’s best, Sam felt he could measure up to them and felt more accepted as an equal by them. But he also felt outgunned in this tournament open only the best 120 under 18 players in Europe held at a tough course just outside of Toulouse.

The first day opened bright and sunny. Scores were low. At around 12:30, the win started blowing. By the time Sam teed off, he said the gusts were almost knocking him off his feet. He found it difficult to control his balls. Even so, he said he played well, until the 17th hole, when he hit what he thought was a good shot, only to see it bounce on the top of the green and over a near cliff out of bounds. He ended up taking a triple bogey and a disastrous 83.

The next day, the wind again was blowing and it was raining. He struggled with an 81.

Only two of the seven Belgians made the cut. Many of the others also struggled and shot in the 80s.

“It was a good learning experience,” Sam said afterward. “Certainly not a success, but not a total failure, either.

For a worried Dad, it also represents a mixed result. Sam learned travelling and playing with his peers than with his parents. But he still struggled to believe that he can compete against the best.

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