It has been said many times, but it is worth repeating – golf is a game you can play for a lifetime, from age 5 to age 105. It is much easier to learn as a child, but how can you get your kid hooked on the game? What is the best way to get them started?
The short answer – keep it fun and don’t apply pressure. Simple, but not terribly helpful. We would suggest these 4-phases to introduce them to golf. There are no timetables for these steps – some kids may fly through them, and others may take a couple of years to progress. Each junior golfer is different, and you never know when they might catch the golf bug.
Phase 1: Show Them the Game
You can introduce them to golf in several different ways. First, have the PGA or LPGA tour on TV on Sunday afternoons while you are relaxing around the house. They might notice it and start asking questions about the game. Second, take them to the golf course. Have lunch on the patio and let them watch other players while enjoying some chicken tenders. Again, see if they start to ask about the game.
Finally, take them to a driving range. Don’t worry about giving them any instructions. Just let them hit the ball. You might be surprised that they start asking to “go hit some balls.”
Phase 2: Try the Golf Course
Take them out on the course. They don’t need to play or finish every hole; just let them ride around in the golf cart and hit a few shots. Allow them to play from short yardages (maybe the 100-yard marker or 150-yard marker). Celebrate anytime they hit a good shot or finish a hole. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to bring snacks. Be creative – make it a fun experience for them.
Phase 3: Keep Score and Set Goals
After your child is comfortable playing on the course, they will want to start keeping score. This is a natural progression and will help them grow in the game. Operation 36 is a great program to help them with this important step. You can find one in your area. The kids play from short yardage and only move back to shoot 36 for 9 holes.
Phase 4: Give Competitive Golf a Try
The final step for your child is learning to play tournament golf. This can be a tricky step, so make sure your child enters events appropriate for their skill level. We recommend they start by joining a PGA Jr. League team (age 13 or under). This is perfect because they have a team and always play with a partner. It reduces the stress, and they can meet other junior golfers that enjoy playing.
If your child wants to play in individual events, check to see if there is a US Kids Local Tour in your area. They offer great tournaments for kids 14 & under.
Get Your Kids Hooked
Remember the golf parent mantra – make it fun and not apply pressure. Let them decide how often they play and if they enjoy tournament golf. Regardless if they make the PGA/LPGA tour or enjoy the game with friends, you have opened the door to a sport they can play for the rest of their life!