We know a few basic truths about getting kids started in golf:
- They learn most and fastest when they are having fun.
- Positive relationships with their coaches and parents have a huge impact on kids’ continued love of golf.
- Kids learn a lot in social environments and with occasional private lessons.
- Structuring practice around generating fun and less around rigid technique keeps young kids in the game.
Many of my young players (and parents), come to the lesson tee with aspirations to play in the big leagues. Wanting an early-lead on the competition is a natural tendency for many competitive players. The typical PGA Tour professional gets started playing golf when he is about 8 years old (for players in the LPGA, it’s typically a year later). But the number of children who will make a living playing professional golf is astronomically small. There are only 7 players born each year in the U.S. who will play for more than 3 seasons on the PGA Tour. The game has so many other benefits beyond that, so ensuring that golf remains a pleasurable pursuit for our kids is critical. Making sure your child associates the golf course as a fun place is the very first step.
While your child needs to know the etiquette rules they have to follow at the course, try to keep these ideas basic. Focus on enjoying your time together, not behavior restrictions that apply mostly to adults. When it comes to instruction, at least a few private coaching sessions are important. Find a well-known junior development program in your area and get your child involved as soon as you can. Being in a social environment with other kids who are learning golf’s basics in a fun setting will boost your child’s comfort and connection with golf. Lastly, parents should parent and support a child’s passion for golf, and allow coaches to coach.
Practice with your child and play games together. Gently guide and encourage your junior golfer, but also let your child learn and figure things out on his or her own. Exploration and experimentation are hugely important in the golf learning process and kids are very good at both. Your child’s instructor should be giving you simple keys to remind your child of during their practice, but try not to go beyond these basic ideas. Structure and a simple consistent message are keys to success.
Lastly, make sure you are always moving and changing the shots your juniors are hitting. Contrary to how many of us learned to play, rote repetition or “block” practice has very limited value in the learning process. Junior golfers often become bored if they do anything for more than about 5-7 minutes at a time. There will be plenty of time for formal instruction later, but fun and bonding with mom or dad will make the experience more valuable.
By: World Junior Golf