(I’ve been writing a lot about delight lately. Today, Casey Lewis steps in to add to the conversation with a great guest post!)
Golf is one of the few activities you can do consistently for 20 years and never get any better.
I’ve recently decided to introduce my 6 year old son, Aiden, to this form of self inflicted torture. There’s just something about the peaceful solitude of burying the head of a 9 iron into the ground after a missed shot that every father should teach his son.
So I booked a tee-time at a course I’ve never played before for my son and I to enjoy a round of golf.
He was excited. He woke up early, put on his shorts and polo shirt, and helped me load his clubs in the car. As we drove to the course he asked questions about the sand traps and water hazards. I realized that this was all brand new to him and the inquisitive nature of a 6 year old had kicked into overdrive.
We walked up to the clubhouse and as we dropped off our clubs, the Starter approached us. He asked my son, “Are you a good guesser?” Holding out both hands he asked us to pick one.
Aiden picked the left hand and received a shiny new golfball. The Starter said to him, “You’re in charge today buddy! Use this ball for good luck.”
Nothing at that moment could have made his smile bigger.
We tee’d off and I was my usual kind of terrible. After I missed a 3 foot putt I let Aiden throw the ball into the pond for me. He had a blast talking to the girls that brought by drinks in the carts and reminding them that he was in charge.
Somewhere in the middle of the round he asked if he could drive the golf cart and I let him know that on the 18th hole I’d let him drive.
I was impressed that he was able to stay excited for the entire round. At the green of every hole he’d grab his putter and run up to putt the ball in the hole and shout out how many strokes I should put on his scorecard.
Then we got to the 18th hole. Of course he reminded me that I told him he could drive so I picked him up and put him in my lap as we drove from the tee box for me to take my 2nd shot. I took the shot and came back to sit in the passenger seat of the cart.
Something you should know about a 6 year old: If their feet hit the pedals they can’t reach the steering wheel and if they reach the steering wheel their feet can’t reach the pedals. So I stepped on the gas and steered with my left hand from the passenger seat while Aiden pretended he was a race car driver.
We pulled up to the green and sitting there in his fancy golf cart was the course marshall.
He parked beside us and in his authoritarian voice said, “You know he’s not supposed to be driving.”
I respectfully let him know that I was driving while Aiden just pretended to steer and the marshall who wasn’t very thrilled with my answer told us to, “cut it out.”
We finished the round, hopped in the car, and drove home.
Guess what my son told his mom and grandma about our experience at the golf course. He ran in screaming “Mommy, me and daddy got in trouble because daddy let me drive the golf cart!”
It’s amazing how a few simple words and 10 extra seconds can completely change the outcome of an experience.
The course Starter gave us a “wow” experience from the beginning. He clearly had a plan and was strategic with what he was going to do if he saw a 6 year old out on his first golf outing.
The Marshall… not so much.
Was I in the wrong here? Probably. Somewhere is a rule that says a 6 year old shouldn’t sit in the drivers seat of a moving golf cart.
But could he have kept that “wow” experience going for my son? Could he have still been the authoritarian that keeps everyone safe without squashing the excitement of a child?
That might have looked something like this as we pulled up beside the marshall at the green to the 18th hole.
Marshall to Aiden: “Hey buddy, do you get to be in charge today?”
Aiden to Marshall: “Yes sir!”
Then the marshall could have pulled me aside and said something like, “I know you were steering and in control, but just to make sure everyone is safe can you sit in the drivers seat please?”
That’s it. About 10 extra seconds to go from killing an experience to sending a “wow” experience over the top.
When is the last time a business delighted you?