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I WAS DRAWN to golf as a youngster. My dad, Stan, played. He was a weekend warrior, and the game really frustrated him. We had a great junior program in Oklahoma City, where I grew up, and I was playing in tournaments by the third grade. I've been golfing my whole life now, and it probably influenced my work ethic in becoming a good musician. I knew from golf that if you wanted to be good at something, you had to practice.
The biggest parallel between golf and music is the creativity. You have to have a creative mind to figure out how to play a shot. You must also develop the physical repetition and muscle memory—those are the same in playing a musical instrument as they are in golf. And there is as much reward in hitting a really great shot as there is in hitting the perfect notes while singing or playing a song.
For years I would try to play golf on all of my gig dates. I'd call courses around the country and say, "Hey, you want to swap greens fees for concert tickets?" Nobody gets hurt, everybody has a good time. Most of the time people were very receptive. Instead of sitting around the hotel room watching The View, I'd be out playing golf. My music didn't have to be 24/7. I never think about golf when I'm playing music—and I never think about music when I'm playing golf.
My wife, Amy Grant, played until she had our daughter, Corrina, seven years ago. Amy had the potential to be a great player—great setup, great posture, great swing speed, hit it really hard—but motherhood has slowed her down a bit.
Corrina is just starting to play, and I've been shoving the game down her throat: "Hey, come in here and watch the Masters." She got a signed golf club from Arnold Palmer. I've been taking her to the course with me, always making sure we do something fun. It's never, "Hey, this is how the grip works." We fish a little bit, look for tadpoles, play in the bunkers and build sand castles. I got that advice from Johnny Miller: Whatever you do, always make it fun for the kids. If it turns into work, it can become frustrating really fast.
Corrina came out with me on a recent Saturday with a couple of my buddies. We put her on a cart and she putted on every hole. She's a naturally gifted lag putter. She can't make one from six inches, but from 40 feet she's deadly.
I've done a junior tournament for 16 years now and raised $4.5 million for junior golf across Tennessee. Golf isn't always about trying to teach kids to be the next Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods. It's about giving them an option of something fun and safe to do. There is a great deal of character attached to it. You never know where golf may lead some kid.