When Xavier Faraj was a day old, his granddad gave him a set of plastic, Crayola-colored golf clubs. These days Faraj, now 14, uses high-tech titanium drivers and — like other grandchildren of avid golfers — has inherited a love of the links.
"Golf was in his blood," says Faraj's grandfather Bob Marth. "As soon as [he] was able, around the age of 3 or 4, I let him swing and practice." His grandson eventually graduated to the driving range, where Marth says he instilled in him the game's fundamentals — such as good posture and sportsmanship. Today, Faraj competes on his high-school golf team.
Marth enjoys hitting the greens with his grandson not only because it's low-impact exercise, but because doing so allows him to spend quality time with Faraj.
"When you're out on the golf course with your grandson, you can ask him questions or talk [about] serious issues. It can build a sense of loving trust and enhance the relationship," says Marth.
Joe Felice Jr. says he really looks forward to spending time on the golf course with his grandfather. Felice is a consummate athlete. He plays on his Garden City, Mich. high school's varsity cross country, basketball, baseball — and golf — teams. Five years ago, he began playing golf competitively. Still, he likes to scoot around the course with his grandfather.
"When I go golfing with my grandpa, it means something," says 17-year-old Felice, whose grandfather Jerry Odom, 66 takes him to play a round from time to time. "It brings a smile to my face and I [feel like] I'm taking advantage of every moment," he says.
Felice has even been known to cancel plans with his friends so that he can go golfing with his granddad because "he's just a fun guy to be around."
His granddad feels the same way. "I'd rather play golf with Joe than anyone else," he says.
Grandpa vs. Grandson
Even though they're family, it's no surprise that when these athletes get together, the competition heats up. "I still go out and try to beat my grandson, but it's more or less a fun thing," says Odom.
When Marth and his grandson hit the course, they compete for the longest shot and to see who lands on the green first. What does the winner of each challenge get? A nickel. "He used to beat me all the time," says Faraj. "But now I hit the ball farther."
Through golfing, they have created memories. Marth recalls how much his grandson Faraj wanted to drive the golf cart when he was a child. Though his grandson's feet barely touched the pedals, Marth let the boy try his hand at the wheel, and made sure everything went Ok. "He was such a careful, cautious driver," says Marth. "I think that helped develop and mature him a little bit."
During a recent trip to Pebble Beach, Calif., Marth bought his grandson a set of Pebble Beach ball markers. It's become a tradition for the two of them to purchase golf-related gifts for each other during vacations. Faraj proudly says he uses the markers his grandfather bought for him every time he plays.
At the end of the day, when the cleats are off and the clubs rinsed down, it's about sharing the love of the game. Says Faraj: "It's really relaxing. It's really fun, and I get a kick out of playing with my granddad."
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.