Anytime I was at the clubhouse with my daughter, Gregg Russell and I began to talk about his dream of getting a helpful book for junior golfer’s into the world. He and his wife have run many of the US Kids Golf tournaments in the Philadelphia PGA section, and have years of experience working with youth development. Gregg had seen so many kids have their journey into the game ruined by overzealous parents who think their child is the next Tiger Woods. This invisible pressure then strangled all of the fun in pursuit of an elusive goal which is meaningless to the young player.
I saw this first hand too. I caddy for my daughter in her summer travel league. The joy of playing seems lost to so many adults, who then impose their non-fun on their children and then joylessness prevails.
So I started to break down the book “I’m Only 8” which was going to be essays and reflections on junior golf. It was called “I’m Only 8” because an 8-year-old junior golfer can navigate a golf course like a mature adult — but on the car ride home is likely to return to fascination with boogers and fart sounds. A book needed to be written to help parents understand this dynamic and not expect their little future pro to always be “on”.
But every single time I would talk to Gregg about “I’m Only 8”, digging for bits to write about, chapters, etc., he would always talk about the puddle metaphor that communicated what he was truly hoping to get across.
The metaphor is this: when you were young and found a puddle you would jump right in because puddles are fun. When you grew up, you no longer jumped right in. Why? The puddle never changed – you did.
I now call this “Puddle Theory” and the idea stuck in my brain like a hot poker for weeks. I didn’t know where it fit or how to incorporate it until one day I had a eureka moment that meant the death of “I’m Only 8”.
I walk my dogs through the woodland trails that encircle our country club on a regular basis. One morning after a night of rain I decided to head out. When I approached an area where the trail was flooded and I could see my own reflection — it hit me like a ton of bricks — this book would not be essays and musings on junior golf but instead a fantasy story about a mystical golf club you can only enter through a puddle! I decided right then and there to pursue this idea.
And that is how The Puddle Club was born.
(In my next post I will tell you about how Ralphie the golf ball came to be a major character in the book.)