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How to Get Your Kids Into Golf
I have a four-year-old boy who is just now getting into “activities.” He’s started tee ball, loves riding bikes and has recently begun running around the backyard with his Fisher-Price golf clubs hitting the ball as far as he can. Watching him run around on the tee ball field and in the backyard certainly brings back memories of my own experiences. It also makes me think of other kids I’ve seen getting involved in sports, specifically golf, and how to get your child involved in the great sport that many of us will play for our entire lives.
Having worked with kids of all ages, and having a father who’s taught junior golfers for the better part of the last 25 years, we were talking the other day about kids being exposed to the game and the best ways to do so. Since we’re approaching that time of the year when school is out and summer programs are going to be starting nationwide, we put together some do’s and don’ts for junior golf.
Getting Your Child Hooked on Golf
First off, when should you start exposing your child to golf? What does that look like? How much is too much? Here’s what I mean by exposing: take them to the range and let them have fun, have them watch golf with you. On the range just let them hit balls with little to no instruction – a pointer here or there isn’t going to hurt, but whatever you do, don’t try to teach them the swing or make corrections. If they’re young and just getting exposed, let them hit away and, if they want to, mimic swings that they see.
So how do you know if they’re taking to the game, and if they like it? A few signals to be aware of is, first and foremost, don’t force anything on them. Let them tell you if they want to play, if they want to go to the range. If they start asking to go play golf then by all means take them. The last thing you want to do is force it, because while they might go along with it for a while, even for a few years, they will undoubtedly rebel and quite possibly walk away from the game for good. I’ve seen it happen multiple times with kids and their overbearing parents who pushed and pushed. Don’t be that parent. There’s no set age to get them started in the game, but it’s dependent on the child and their maturity level.
Finding a Junior Golf Instructor
What, then, is the next step if they are showing interest and starting to get a little bit older? I wouldn’t recommend this until they’re 6 or 7 at the earliest, but once they showing interest, that is the time to look into getting them some formal instruction from a professional. How do you find an instructor who’s good with kids? Do some legwork to investigate some programs, and ask around. Most facilities will be proudly promoting their programs and will be happy to answer questions for you.
It’s at this stage that you’ll want to get them into camps so they can interact with other kids, learn new skills like sportsmanship, respect and honesty. It will also increase their exposure and love for the game. Learning the game with other kids will foster a sense of belonging, and independence.
Lastly, a mistake I see a lot of parents make is that if they’re child shows an interest and ability in the game is to think that they’re going to be the next Tiger Woods and that they should drop everything else and focus solely on golf. Bad idea: chances are your child is not the next Tiger and by isolating them into golf you’re denying them some very valuable experiences. Let them play other sports and experience other activities, because this aids in the development of their coordination and athletic ability. This will only serve to help them in the long run, in their future golf game, and their life paths.