I shot my career best with my 13-year-old nephew. Here are the 3 tips he gave me.


The author's 13-year-old nephew — and coach — at Moor Downs Golf Course in Waukesha, Wis.

Nick Piastowski

I shot my career best. 

I’m writing this not to brag. Please believe me. I know I’m leading this essay with it, and doing so may appear to be counterintuitive to being humble. But it’s to lend weight to my new swing coach:

My 13-year-old nephew, Mason. 

Actually, maybe I should boast then. About him, and only about him, because it’s part of lesson two, which we’ll get to shortly. So let’s rewrite. Here goes: 

On the second of August, in the two-thousandth and twenty-first year, in the mid-afternoon, over the course of four hours, under partly cloudy skies, the author, who typically shoots in the mid-80s, but is known to balloon to triple figures occasionally, shot a four-over seventy-four at Moor Downs Golf Course, a municipal golf course in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that was established in the one-thousandth nine-hundredth and fifteenth year. All credit, comments and questions should go to Mason, 13 years of age, son of the writer’s sister, Robyn.     


How did I — I mean he — do it?

His tips were just three. 

See a course with the excitement of a kid

About a month before I came to town, my coach and I shared the following text exchange: 

Me: Bro 

(Much older uncle here overly trying to fit in with the kids.) 

Me: Where should we play golf when I’m back in town? 

Him: Amazing course called moordowns in Waukesha

Him: I’ve been really on my golfing game recently even thinking about playing in high school 

No, Moor Downs is not on this website’s top 100 list. (Which you can find here!) But it was Mason’s No. 1. I get up for every round of golf. I mean, I work for a site that bathes in all the glory that’s golf. But to hear the excitement to play an “amazing course” had me thinking I was playing Augusta or Pebble. Seeing a course through the eyes of a 13-year-old again was inspiring.

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Don’t pout — like a kid 

While we’re separated by decades, there’s one very obvious way to tell we’re kin: 

We pout on the golf course. 

My wife and I agree that our greatest spats have come while playing golf together. (One day I’ll pen this up, too.) I’ll top, slice or hook, I’ll fall into a deep malaise, and I’ll go silent — or, in short, act like an ass. Jump ahead to Moor Downs, and my coach misses the green by a yard on the 179-yard, par-3 1st. 

“I wanted to get it on the green in one,” he says, before slouching into the cart. 

“But you’re a yard away!” I say. “And like a yard away from me, kid.”

I don’t know if I got through to him, but he got through to me. I would par the first seven holes. Then I three-putted No. 8 for a bogey. And drove near a tree on 9 for another bogey. The even-par round was now two over, which, while still amazing, was — actually, we’re not even going to go there. It was amazing, two bogeys at the end be damned. I had to be the good uncle here. No crying. 

And then I went and shot another 37. 

And I said nothing of the 74. While no one likes a sore loser, the same can be said for a poor winner. I had to be the good uncle here, too.  

This I know did not sink in. On the 445-yard, par-5 16th, I parred. And the young blood birdied, with a drive, iron, blast out of the sand, and a 50-foot bomb. The scorecard is below. The writing is Mason’s. 

There are bigger things in life than a career round — like subs

After the first nine (Moor Downs is just nine, but you can replay it for a cheaper rate), we sat around for a second — then left. 

“Can we go to Subway?” Mason asked. 

In the middle of what turned out to be my career-best round, we drove a half-mile and ate sub sandwiches and chips. I guess I don’t know if there’s really a lesson there. Maybe there’s some deep meaning. Maybe there isn’t. But the thoughts of how I could follow up a 37 were replaced with whether I wanted the sandwich toasted or not.

And I snuck my soda onto the back nine, even though the Moor Downs sign said no carry-ons. 

My coach and I laughed at that. 

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