There are many benefits that come along with playing golf, even more so for kids. Playing golf and golfing with adults at an early age teaches them important life lessons as golf closely parallels real life.
The range of experience, from birdies to bogeys, from good shots to bad, rewards a young person’s ability to keep each shot and each round in perspective, manage one’s emotions, maintain a positive outlook and focus on the shot at hand.
A child will learn integrity, discipline and respect. As they learn to conduct themselves on the golf course, these lessons will translate directly into everyday life.
In today’s world of video games and smart phones, child obesity is a concern nationwide and getting your child to go outside can be a daunting task. Golf is the perfect excuse to spend an entire day enjoying nature and presents the opportunity to develop healthy, lifelong exercise habits!
That’s not all! There are many reasons why golf is good for kids including:
- Anyone Can Play: One doesn’t have to be lean, strong, or fast to play golf. Golf champions come in all shapes and sizes. Unlike most other sports, you can enjoy golf your entire life and it’s never too early to start!
- Minimal Risk: Golf is a noncontact sport. The chances of injury, especially serious ones, are very minimal.
- Safe and Positive Environment: The golf course is a safe place and facilitates relationship development. Golf helps teach right from wrong in a supportive environment.
- Lifelong Friendships: You never know who you will meet on a golf course. It’s one of the easiest places in the world to make friends as everyone has that common thread. Golf helps foster a unique bond so those friendships can be developed all over the world and last a lifetime!
- Prepare for Business: It’s hard to think about it now, but kids grow up and the people they meet as children can play a huge part in their success later in life. Golf is a sport that helps prepare kids and teens for careers in business and other professional arenas.
- Spend Time Outdoors: 8. Scholarships: Golf can open doors academically as they persevere and improve their game. Scholarships are out there to help advance their education.
- Family Time: Golf is a game that encourages family participation. Golf is an opportunity for quality bonding time, and it’s one that can last a lifetime.
- FUN: One of the best reasons to get your child, son or daughter, involved with golf is that they’ll have an absolute blast. It’s a chance to learn new skills, both physical and mental, make new friends and discover new opportunities.
Want to know more? If you want to get your child started in golf, here’s what every parent should know…
GETTING YOUR CHILD STARTED IN GOLF
1. First Step Equipment
Cut-off adult clubs have been the standard for children’s use for many years. But most adult golfers wrestle with poor swing habits resulting from their start with cut-off clubs that were too heavy and stiff.
Club Weight is one of the most important aspects of selecting clubs for your child. Lighter clubheads will allow more clubhead speed and distance, improve balance, and help kids develop a smooth, natural swing.
Club Length is also critical in developing a good swing and learning the fundamentals. As the picture above indicates, a driver should never be above or below the yellow lines.
When selecting a first club, a putter is the best choice to first put in a kids hand. Then a 9-iron training club because it is fun and easy for kids to hit the ball in the air off of a tee. Add a lofted fairway wood or hybrid club for the ideal starter set.
Fitting through the years is key to the development and improvement of the young golfer. Kids grow an average of 2.5 inches per year after age two, and as your child grows, you will need to re-fit them according to their height. Check their height often to be sure their clubs are properly fit.
2. Having Fun Putting
Putting is 40% of the game, and, for most, it is the starting point in golf. The miniature golf course is a great place to begin learning a putting stroke. Be patient, and keep your instruction limited to how to properly hold the putter.
Miniature Golf is a great way for a child to have fun putting. Play often, but always bring your child’s own putter. Miniature golf could be your child’s first experience with golf and the one that keeps them hooked on the game in the early years.
Games on the green will make practice fun and help your child to understand the importance of keeping score. Play three holes with your child on the practice putting green.
3. Having Fun Chipping
Chipping is a simple stroke that should be a natural progression from putting.
4. Having Fun Full Swing
Making contact with the ball is the first goal to give your child. Encourage good shots, but avoid correcting the bad shots. Every shot that makes contact is a good shot at this stage.
Tee up all of your child’s shots at this early stage of learning, woods and irons. Give your child a target and a distance goal.
Safety is especially important on the driving range. Don’t use this time to practice your own game. Instead, give your attention to your child so you can encourage them as well as keep them out of the path of other golfers.
5. Having Fun at the Range
Your day at the driving range should be short and action packed—no more than one hour.
Your main goal is to make the time fun. Make a game out of your practice, which should include these three stations: putting green, chipping green, and the driving range.
Instruction – Provide only the minimum instruction. Let your child do what comes naturally at first. If at all possible, DON’T give instruction—rather encourage and affirm the fun your child is having.
Keep it Fun – Look for signs that your child is not having fun. If your child seems bored or distracted, take a break or move on to another area of fun.
Encouragement – Encouraging words are far more important than swing instruction. Try to use ten words of encouragement for every word of correction.
Review Your Time – Always end your day with something special like a drink or a snack. This will give you and your child a moment to review your time together.
6. Having Fun Playing the Course
Very soon, if not already, your child will want to join you on the golf course.
For the first time on the course, have your child ride in the cart with you while you play three holes, letting him or her hit an occasional shot or putt on the green.
Play forward tees – When playing a full golf hole for the first time, let your child tee off from very close to the green—no farther away than the 100 yard marker.
Keep it short – There’s no harm in walking off the course before 9 – in fact, it can be the best thing you can do. Depending on the age of your golfers, 5 or 6 holes may be plenty.
Also, keep the yardage short. Create your own course and tees as needed in the fairway. This gives them the thrill of being on a course, while keeping it manageable.
Play a scramble or shamble. Introducing kids to the course doesn’t mean they have to play their own ball. Playing a scramble will keep everyone moving and make the experience more team oriented.
7. Structured Learning Program
Kids learn differently than adults. In addition to the right equipment, kids need a balanced program to keep them excited and challenged in the game.
Too much instruction can turn them away from golf. Too little, and they can become frustrated, develop poor swing habits, and even lose interest.
A fundamental instruction program bya PGA or LPGA professional provides positive incentives to encourage young golfers to reach their full potental.
There are a million things you can buy your kids, but only a few make a real impact. Let golf be one of those impacts.