Father coaches daughter on Green Wave golf team
NATCHEZ — A golf outing for the father-daughter duo of Kurt and Chandler Russ began as a laid-back exercise when Chandler was younger.
“We would go out to Beau Pré (Country Club) probably when she was around 8,” Kurt recalled. “We’d hit three or four balls, ride in the golf cart and mess around.”
Chandler also said she remembers the shenanigans of riding around with her dad — or sometimes, him riding around with her.
“I just grew up around the sport,” Chandler said. “I used to beg him to let me drive the golf cart. He would say, ‘Wait until we get around the bend where they can’t see us.’”
What began as an easygoing activity has now become an intense one. Chandler, a sophomore at Cathedral High School, decided two years ago to take up golf as a sport. She plays golf for the Cathedral girls golf squad — coached by Kurt. And the coach-pupil relationship between the two can get testy at times, Chandler said.
“Sometimes I want to turn around and hit him with the club,” she joked. “Other times, it’s a special connection, because he knows exactly what shot I’m about to hit. We get really aggravated with each other, but most of the time, he just makes that connection that only a father and daughter have.”
Kurt said he’s more than happy to help Chandler develop her game, even if that ball ends up in the rough from time to time.
“As a father, I’d be here anyway,” Kurt said. “It’s extra special that I get to coach her.”
Though he can be hard on her at times, Kurt said he’s beginning to learn that giving positive re-enforcement is better than demanding to know “why in the world she did that.”
“In our last match, I helped her with her club selection and acted more as a cheerleader than anything else, and it worked out,” Kurt said. “I probably need to do better with that.”
Kurt said he realized right away the potential Chandler had as a player the moment she got serious about the sport.
“Any kid that can pick up a club and actually hit a golf ball, you know you can work with them,” Kurt said. “She has excellent hand-eye coordination, and I didn’t teach her to swing, she just swung.”
Chandler doesn’t only get golf instructions from her father. Local veteran golfer Pete Powell regularly works with Chandler, and Chandler said she enjoys worked with Powell.
“He’s helped me tremendously,” Chandler said. “He teaches me and puts me through drills, and he knows exactly what I’m doing wrong and can put it in words that register with me.
“He encourages me to keep trying. He’s positive all the time — it’s hard to make him mad. He has lots of patience.”
That kind of positive thinking is something Kurt said he’s beginning to pick up from Powell.
“He’ll say that I can be too hard on her,” Kurt said. “He says that it will come one at a time (with Chandler). He told me by the time she’s a senior in high school, she’ll be shooting in the 70s. I told him he was crazy, but he said it will happen.”
So far, Kurt said Powell has been right about his daughter’s progress.
“She’s getting better and better,” Kurt said. “From last year to this year, she improved by 11 strokes, so we’re on track.”
Chandler said in addition to continuing to lower her score and helping her team beat St. Aloysius — “The rivalry is there for everything, not just football,” Chandler said — she also wants to get to a place where she’s pleased with her game.
“I want to be able to walk up on a tee, hit a shot and be satisfied with it,” Chandler said. “Obviously, that’s not going to happen with every shot, but I would love for it to be that way the majority of my shots.”