Advice To Keep Junior Golfers Engaged
Golf can be enjoyed at any age, from youth to adult, novice to professional, it’s a lifelong game. Teach a child to play and they’ll have a foundation in place for decades of enjoyment on the course alongside friends and family.
Here are nine tips from ERG’s golf professionals Ernie Rose and Tim Jochim to keep golf fun and exciting for junior golfers.
Junior Golf Advice
Do Your Research
Research your area and locate an instructor who specializes in junior golf programs, is PGA certified, or at the least has significant experience teaching kids. Then, offer support and encouragement but allow the pro to give the golf advice. Too much information from too many sources can strip the joy from the process of learning how to play golf.
Group instruction works best. Encouraging practicing for a couple of hours a day because it means a chance to hang out with friends. With the time available between shots, golf is the most social game. Instruction should follow this lead. Kids who learn, laugh, improve and struggle together are more likely to return for more.
Younger kids need variety. You’re never too young to learn, but the smallest swingers need a mixture of activities to keep clinics and golf lessons fresh and exciting. Any activity that emphasizes hand-eye coordination, balance or athletic movement benefits a golfer’s early development. Even if it doesn’t include touching a golf club or ball.
Don’t sweat the details. Solid fundamentals are important, but it’s fine for a beginner to have flaws in their grip or stance as long as they are hitting the ball, having fun and wanting to return to the course. Encourage junior golfers to ask questions about why such a change might be necessary. That keeps the students invested in the decision.
Get on course - as soon as possible. Juniors golfers who spend too much time banging balls on the driving range can easily lose interest. Besides, the golf course is where the game really comes alive, remains fun and fresh, and poses a unique set of circumstances each day. A golfer understands the reason to spend quality time practicing chipping or bunker play once they’re faced with those challenges on the golf course.
Not all junior golfers will want to play in tournaments. Some might like to compete, but only in a group setting. And others may enjoy the game just because they can be outside and spend hours sharing good shots and laughter with friends. Let your child decide, it’s their journey. Parents who push their child down the wrong path may drive their child away from the game. The decision to pursue a tournament title, college scholarship or professional career should always come from the golfer.
Hit A Wall
Every golfer reaches a point where scores aren’t improving because putts don’t drop or drives miss their target. All athletes, even professionals have stretches where they simply don’t perform their best, sometimes for reasons that defy explanation. Dwelling on the negative can bring any golfer down. To maintain perspective, set reachable intermediate goals and keep the focus on the process of having fun.
Parents, don’t rush to spend on fancy equipment and clothes. Expose your child to the game first. Many instructors have clubs available for kids to use during lessons or clinics. If your child decides they like the game and want to continue playing, then find equipment that fits them. The wrong equipment can introduce bad swing habits. Proper club length and weight are imperative for young beginners.
Enjoy The Game
Enjoy this game together. Father or mother and son, father or mother and daughter. Walk nine holes on a warm summer evening. Start a holiday or vacation tradition of playing a round. Watch the major championships, learn the rich history of the game and discuss your favorite players. Attend a PGA or LPGA Tour event and observe those who play the game best.
Most of all, celebrate the good shots, forget the bad ones, laugh a lot and let each memory soak in.