7 essentials for getting your child hooked on golf
Giving your child the gift of golf can be a life-changer for them. The values, relationships and skills learned through this great game will serve them for a lifetime. You may be asking yourself how you can get your child involved in golf and, more importantly, keep them interested in it. Here are the best things you can do to help your child fall in love with the game.
1. Group instruction
It is so important for kids to be with other kids when learning golf. The younger they are, the better group instruction is for them. Kids have more fun and are more engaged when they are in a group, versus one-on-one with an instructor. Find an instructor near you who teaches group classes for children, or gather a small group of your child’s friends and sign them up with a coach as a group for weekly lessons.
2. Make it fun
One issue I see is that parents feel their children need to do everything properly when they are learning. If they are under eight years old, it’s okay if their grip is funky, they don’t stand perfectly or they lose their balance. Those things will come with time. When I teach my peewee golf classes (3-6 years old), I let them hold the club cross-handed if they want, have space between their hands, and more! Younger kids, especially girls, don’t yet have the strength to hold the club at the top of their backswing. Allowing them to have their grip however they’d like is going to allow them to make a bigger swing, hit better shots, and enjoy the game more.
3. Have proper equipment
Cardinal sins are the hand-me-down clubs or the gifted set that is way too long or heavy for that particular child. This makes it incredibly difficult for a child to swing and get a ball up in the air with any success. I would prefer if parents simply purchased the US Kids yard club and a putter for their beginner golfers instead of a full set. These clubs are lightweight and have a grip guide and larger clubface, which allows kids to swing faster and hit the ball up in the air more easily. This sense of success is essential to them sticking with the game. As your child gets older, the US Kids full sets are still the best option for your junior golfer. They are based on height and have different weighted clubs based on your child’s ability.
4. Let it be their idea/Don’t push
As your child becomes interested in golf, let it be their idea to go to the range and hit balls. Don’t push them to do it or force them to come with you to the range. If they do want to come with you, make it fun. Have a putting game on the green, try to hit balls into a bin or hit one of the targets on the range. If they come with you and end up not wanting to hit and just sort through golf balls, that’s okay, too! Let it be whatever it is they want it to be as they are introduced to the sport.
5. PGA Junior League
For any kid interested in golf, PGA Junior League is an amazing opportunity to get hooked. It is similar to Little League but for golf, with the team atmosphere and matches. Your child will be paired with a more experienced player and be able to get out on the golf course quickly. Some programs even provide weekly practices. Your child will learn etiquette, the rules of golf, golf skills and more in a fun and friendly environment.
6. Allow for athletic development
Many children aren’t able to throw or kick a ball. If this is the case, they are going to have a difficult time hitting a golf ball. If your child is taking lessons (group or private), make sure that the coach is aware of developing them as an athlete. Being able to run, jump, kick and hit are things that will aid them in playing good golf and being a well-rounded athlete. A good junior golf coach should be incorporating some kind of physical activity into each training session. It can be as simple as an obstacle course or kicking a soccer ball, but it is an essential aspect of your child’s development.
7. For girls, make it social
One thing I have learned is that girls are incredibly social. As they get closer to teenage years, they need to have friends who play or be good at the sport in order to stick with it. Find a local LPGA Girls Golf program or a female instructor who does girls group instruction if you have a daughter you would like to get into golf. If she sees a female teacher and/or other girls participating and having fun, she likely will too.
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