Introducing kids to golf
You love golf, but do your kids? Tips to get them playing
Regardless of whether you’ve even played the game of golf, when deciding that you want to successfully introduce the game to your child, keep in mind that certain parental attitudes and strategies work better than others to accomplish your goal.
And if you have remained steadfast in your desire, despite the seemingly endless barrage of other activities a child may find worthy of her time, kudos to you! Truth be told, many parents with similar ambitions at the outset, don’t even get past go. On account of pragmatic parenting, these parents usually end up filing the child-playing-golf idea away into the drawer of wishful thinking and simply move on (there’s nothing wrong with that).
But for those of you who remain, let’s get to the bottom of this. How in the world, you may ask, can you introduce your kid to the game of golf, as frustrating as it can be, and ensure it also is fun? Although you may see all the benefits that golf can bring into an individual’s life (e.g., life lessons, social interaction and plain old fun), a kid most likely can’t.
“What’s key,” said Dale Moore, head pro and director of the Shot Shapers Golf Academy at Windermere Valley Golf Course, “is that they have the interest to begin with. I’ve seen it before where parents try and force a kid into the game, and it never turns out well for either party.” Moore, who for the past 25 years has taught golf to both young and old, should know.
Casey Johnson, head teaching pro at Copper Point Golf Club, concurs. “Letting a kid somehow find the game, as opposed to being forced into it, will create a much better chance for the child to enjoy golf and want to keep playing.”
If the key to the kingdom lies in a child’s own authentic desire to play the game, logically the next question becomes “How can you, the parent, induce in your child an interest to go out and whack around the little white ball?”
The answer to that question is not as straightforward. This is because there are many different reasons and scenarios that result in a kid wanting to play golf for the first time and having fun. To accomplish your goal, the focus should be on increasing the likelihood of your child finding that oh-so-important initial interest. To increase this likelihood, all you need to do is expose your child to a variety of experiences that may lead to genuine desire. Fortunately, these experiences can come in all shapes and sizes and are in no short supply.
The most common way that kids develop a curiosity about golf is by being exposed to the game by parents who love playing. “Frequently, I see a real interest bud when kids see their parents play the game or are in some way around golf so that they can see it first-hand,” said Moore.
“And if the parents aren’t golfers,” sid Johnson, “another way that kids typically find the game is through their peers or a junior golf program. If a kid’s best friend is inviting him out to play a round with his dad or go to a golf camp, most likely he’ll want to at least tag along and try it out.”
Once a child’s interest has been piqued, golf usually takes care of itself in terms of being fun. It is important to remember though, that golf is simply a game. With that in mind, both pros were keen to point out that parents should not pressure their kids to perform perfectly.
“Junior golfers should never feel overly pressured to perform and be the next Tiger,” Moore said. “Far more important is whether there are smiles on their faces.”
Lastly, remember that patience on the parent’s part is key. Be patient in letting your child find the game after exposing her to experiences. Be patient if they don’t take to the game as much as you’d like. Most of all, relax and encourage to the best of your ability the No. 1 priority—having fun!