Golf has become extremely popular, and several young players in their teens and low twenties have come to the forefront of professional golf on the men’s and women’s tours. Many golfers lament not starting the game earlier in life. Getting kids into golf can be a challenging prospect if you want to do it correctly.
The success of many of these younger players is not due to luck or talent only. Yes, talent plays a massive role in rising to the top, but these golfers have been involved with golf since an early age.
Tiger Woods was introduced to golf before he turned two years old. His career was guided by his dad to become the greatest golfer and beat all professional records set by the greats like Jack Nicklaus. All of that was not in vain as Tiger Woods has gone on to become one of the best golfers ever to play the game and become a billionaire on the way.
With this background, it is no wonder that parents wonder how to get kids into golf. This is not an easy task and could consume all the leisure time available to the parent. Therefore, parents have to be committed to the process and support the child without ever forcing their expectations onto them.
Golf is both a social game and a competitive game. Many company executives or business people get to grow their circles of influence during golf games, whether it be social, corporate days, or any other golfing engagements.
The biggest competition is for a golfer to be as good as possible and then compete against other golfers. The aim is to get kids involved with golf for the love of the game, having fun, and use the game to build a circle of friends.
How To Get Kids Into Golf
Getting kids to play golf is not an easy task with all of the digital distractions available such as television, games, and internet chat rooms. The digital distractions, combined with security concerns, have severely impacted the time that kids spend in the outdoors.
Introducing a child to golf at an early age and nurturing their interest in the game is vital to ensure that they don’t feel forced into something that they don’t like or want to do.
When going to the practice range, take the children with you and develop their interest in the game. Take them to a golf tournament where they can see professional golfers applying their trade and try to introduce them to a golfer.
Make It Fun For Them
Once introduced to golf, it is essential that the kids enjoy the game. To achieve this playing golf must be fun. No extraordinary pressure to practice and play should be placed on them. Introduce the kids to a variety of golf games to stimulate their interest.
Take part in the fun and show the child how it’s done without getting frustrated. Allow the child to play with golf balls at home, putting them into a bucket. Add some color to the range of balls available to tweak some more interest.
Play games by setting targets and both parent and child hitting golf balls at the target. Neither parent nor child must get discouraged when there is no immediate result. Be patient.
Developing a solid golf swing by putting multiple components together takes time and effort. Adding consistency to the mix is difficult as there are so many variables that anything can go wrong from one hole to the next.
The secret is to make it fun for the child even on days where things are not going to plan and for the parent not to lose faith in the process. Not everyone is destined to become a professional golfer or even a low handicap golfer. Less than one percent of golfers make it to a single-digit handicap.
Reward good progress and shots through praise and excitement., but never show disappointment in the lack of progress. Stay patient throughout the process, the child will need the parent by their side and all the support that the parent can muster. Some golfers require a journey of twenty years to get to their best level.
Avoid disappointment and removal of the fun factor by keeping to achievable goals and then praise the child for achieving or exceeding expectations.
Get Them Their Own Equipment
Increasing the child’s interest is much simpler by providing them with their own equipment, thus allowing them to get used to their clubs’ length and feel, even if it is only holding it when at home.
It is clear that adult golf equipment is not suitable for younger children, and this will only put them off the game. Fortunately, there is quality affordable equipment that has been specifically designed for the younger generation.
Building a proper stance and swing is difficult even for an adult golfer. Having the wrong equipment may lead to frustration and the child to turn against the sport.
Starting the child off with a toy set at the age of two or three is ideal since it is light and generally has larger clubheads making it easier to hit the ball.
As the child grows, the equipment must change to accommodate the increase in strength, length, and skill. Avoid handing down an adult set to a junior. This will not aid the child’s progress.
Timing of the introduction of specialized instruction is equally important. A parent can provide some basic instructions on how to hold the club, the stance, and the swing mechanics, but a professional golf coach is equipped with the detailed knowledge to deal with nearly any situation like chipping and more advanced drills.
Building a circle of friends that are interested in golf will promote progress. Joining a group instruction will generate more benefits than individual instruction for a young child. They get to make friends and have fun together while learning. Remember, golf for kids is all about having fun.
For optimal growth, it is crucial that the teaching applies to the age and stage of development. Initially, the child needs to hone the basic skills of holding and swinging the club. Detailed technical instruction of the swing dynamics can follow in the teen years.
As the child develops, a combination of group and individual instruction will ensure that the group interest is maintained while the personal coaching will hone the skillset.
Short Games (Don’t play 36 holes with them…)
Introducing a kid to golf requires patience while keeping their limited attention span interested all the time. Starting by playing eighteen holes is not advisable. There are many short (executive or mashie) courses round that consists of par three holes.
This will build confidence in the kid’s golfing abilities and growth.
Once the confidence level exceeds the par-three course, start playing nine holes on a standard course, thus introducing the child to the different holes, par threes, par fours, and par fives. Preferably, select one of the more forgiving courses to start with.
Teach Them Etiquette
Golf is a game that prides itself on its etiquette and self-regulation of golfers in their scoring. Introducing a child to the etiquette at a young age will make it more fun and pleasurable to play golf with them.
Not talking on a competitor swing or stepping on their putting line is probably difficult for a young child to understand but equally important for their development as a golfer.
A good starting point is to teach young golfers the benefits of stretching exercises before starting to play golf. This will help the child to understand the muscles involved in golf and how to prevent injuries. Remember to keep the fun factor high and make it enjoyable for both parent and child.
To develop a good golf swing, the golfer must be able to rotate properly around the spine and retain balance after impact. As kids are still growing and developing, it is difficult for them to be consistent in their posture.
The simplest way to describe a consistent posture to a child is to allow them to rest the golf club’s grip end against their tummy. This will provide a good idea of the distance between the body and the golf ball.
Show the kid how to bend forward at the hips and to flex their knees for a solid, comfortable position. The final act of taking a good posture is letting the hands hang loosely down their side, trying to touch the flexed knees with their fingertips.
Rotate and Finish
Rotation combined with solid weight transfer and finishing the swing are significant factors in the swing mechanics.
The key is to swing the club back to above the shoulders with minimum movement of the hips and swing through until the club is above shoulder height on the target side of the swing.
Keeping a solid tempo without rushing the process will teach the child to control the swing and to finish at the top, not stop before the finish is complete.
At what age should a child start golf?
The earlier a child is introduced and allowed to develop a love for golf, the better. It is not unusual to see kids as young as two years old swinging away using a toy set of golf clubs.
Having practical experience of the game makes it much simpler to introduce more advanced methods to a child.
Keep the athletic development of the child in mind when deciding when to move to the next level. No benefit is to be gained from pushing a child to a higher level while they lack the strength to hold and swing a bigger club.
Getting a child interested and retaining that interest in golf requires a parent to love and enjoy the game as well. Without parent participation and encouragement, the interest will soon wane.
Starting at a young age promotes the development of golfing ability and hand/eye coordination in a child. It may take time for a child to develop an interest to such an extent that they want to participate. A parent must be available to guide the child when they express interest to start playing.
Continuing to show interest in golf as a parent is more likely to get a child interested.
Forming friendships through group instruction will enhance the fun factor and build long-term relationships with co-golfers.
Making a child part of your golfing experience is likely to build a closer relationship bond while enticing the child to give it a try as well.
Any feedback or advice will be highly appreciated in the comments section below.