Golf can be a frustrating game, and when it comes to our children, we want to be very careful. Learning the game takes a lot of time and effort, and the last thing you want to do is put your child in a position where he or she loses interest in the game. It's important to set them up for success, which in this game is easier said than done.
In order to nurture your child's love of the game, it's important to make the game fun for your child. Knowing how to use a golf course's practice facility, how a golf course sets up, which golf courses your child should play, and how to use that information to your child's advantage will make the experience much more pleasurable for your child and give them the foundation to become a lifelong beneficiary of the game.
So what is it about a golf course that leads to the a child’s growth, development and enjoyment of the game?
Of course, you want your child to learn to play well, but isn't it more important that they have fun and develop an affinity for the game? Keep in mind, "you are there to do what they want to do, not what you want them to do."
Many parents make the mistake of getting into the finer aspects of the game too soon. Let your child make the rules and don't drag them down with the intricacies of the proper grip or how to hit a flop shot. Just let them have fun … and a great place to have them do that is at the practice facility.
The number of adults you see on the practice range typically far outnumbers those on the practice green. Don't make this mistake with your child. As a parent, you should never just walk past a practice green with your child. You'll want to take every opportunity to heighten your child's awareness about the importance of good chipping and putting. Again, make it fun by allowing them to compete against you in chipping or putting contests. Of course, sooner or later your child will want to go to the driving range, but don't underestimate the importance of the short game, especially with junior golfers.
Getting Out on the Course
Eventually, once they've had lots of practice, your child is going to want to get out on the golf course. The first few times out, it might be best to set up a time when it isn't busy so that a slow pace of play doesn't affect other golfers. Once on the course, put your child in a position for success by teeing it forward to match their skill set. And, don't forget to take into account the difficulty of the course. You want to provide many opportunities for your child to experience successt.
The short course is a concept that is gaining momentum. Essentially, it bridges the gap between programs such as First Tee and what would eventually become competitive-level golf. These courses are designed to allow junior golfers to score better. They are shorter, the greens are inviting and level, and there are fewer obstacles, so aspiring young golfers can begin to post scores that are closer to par.You can do this on any course by simply playing at a distance that is appropriate for the child’s skill set.
Think of it this way: placing your child half way down a double-diamond ski slope will give them the confidence they need to begin feeling comfortable in that environment. It builds confidence! When teeing it forward on a championship golf course, younger golfers will begin to learn how to effectively navigate those features of a championship course, whether it be protective water hazards, bunkers lining the fairways or championship-quality undulating greens. Putting your child in this environment can lead build their confidence and enhance the overall development as a player.
Whether it's a par 3 or an executive course, a short course, or a championship course, get your child out there. They will be outdoors getting exercise and interacting with other children, parents and golfers. This is a game that can get your child off the couch, away from video games and TV, and place them in an outdoor environment interacting with others, learning valuable skills and exercising and improving their health. .
What other aspects of a golf course are conducive to your child's education of the game and what other skills and values are they developing overall?