Golf can be an engaging, challenging activity for all experience levels – so why limit it to adults?
In fact, it’s a game that can be fun for all the family, as long as it’s introduced the right way.
A friend of mine, Keith Morgan, was recently appointed Hawick Golf Club’s first qualified PGA Golf professional, but he’s also experienced at coaching kids. I’m pretty confident he’s got the right idea – at least, the kids seem to think so!
With that in mind, I’m going to highlight some of the best tips for first teaching your kids how to golf.
1. Get only what you need
Let’s face it, kids go through phases. One week they might be interested in basketball, the next, snowboarding. If your child is interested in playing golf for the first time, I’d recommend investing in a partial set of clubs first, and see where that interest takes them. To get started, you’re probably only going to need:
- A 5-iron, 7-iron and 9-iron
- A 3- or 4-wood
- A putter
If your child’s interest only continues to grow, and they start playing a lot or attending classes, you can splash out on a full junior set that you know they’re going to use.
2. Let them try it their way first
Of course you’re going to want them to learn golf the correct way, but particularly for young children, learning the right grip and stance may make golf seem like the dullest thing in the world. A good piece of advice is to let them get to grips with the game on their own terms first. Be on-hand to explain the very basics and answer any questions they might have, but don’t get bogged down in the little details that might take all the fun out of it for them. Once they’ve learned a little more about what the game entails, you can start focusing on the complexities of the game.
3. Get in plenty of practice time
The best time to take your kids to the course is when it’s not going to be too busy. Try evenings to start with – so if your child wants to take his or her time practicing their putting technique or just hitting the ball wherever they like, you won’t have to worry about holding up whoever’s behind you. Check to see if any of the courses near you reserve times or specific areas for children.
4. Keep it fun
One of the best rules of junior golf is not to let your game drag on too long. You never want to make it seem like a chore, so if they start to get bored, know when to move on. This way, they’ll keep wanting to come back and improve their game. Each time you go, give them fun little challenges – not too difficult – that will not only be engaging but also help them get better. For instance, you can start with short putting challenges, before moving onto longer ones the better they get.
5. Don’t be overly critical
By criticising them at every turn, they’re going to feel like giving up and never playing again. It also saps all the fun out of the game for them. Instead, try to encourage them as much as possible, and acknowledge those little breakthroughs that mean they’re improving their game.
6. Give them rewards
Give them opportunities to earn rewards if they do well – such as a milkshake or sweet treat – and make sure you always follow through on it. It’s never fun when you earn something and then have to wait a week or two for it – plus, you’ll eventually lose interest. Sometimes it can be fun to make bets to see if they can beat you, but don’t forget to be a good sport if they do!
7. Enrol them in a junior golf programme
If your child decides they are really serious about learning golf, a junior golf programme or coaching classes can be a fantastic way for them to get on top of their game. Look for classes near you that are run by experienced golfing professionals – it’ll be worth it.
If you love golf and think your kids could love it, too, why not give them a chance to try it out? Teaching your kids how to golf can be a fun and rewarding game for all the family, as long as you remember that fun should come first. Only invest in the clubs your child needs to get started, and let them find their own way around the course. They’ll probably be curious, so answer their questions and play along while they get to grips with the game. Try to play in the evenings when it’s less busy, or look for courses that have areas especially for kids. Don’t be overly critical, and be sure to reward them when they get it right. Finally, if you think it could be beneficial for your child to learn from an expert, enrol them in a junior golf programme or coaching.