Junior golf has become an integral part of the sport in recent years. Golf clubs have stepped up, organizing junior leagues in order to help young people get into the game. Diverse local and national organizations have signed on, organizing formal instruction and active leagues in order to encourage junior golfers.
While the basic premise is clear—teach young people to play—there still are many misconceptions about the purpose and function of junior golf. Here are three myths and facts to consider.
1. Myth: It’s just about golf.
Probably the most common misconception surrounding junior golf is that it is solely about choosing the right club, swinging and hitting, and all the rudiments of the sport. But in fact, junior golf is about much more than this.
Junior golf is largely about personal attributes. In learning the game, young people also learn about themselves and about fundamental life skills. Golf is a game of patience and perseverance. It is a game that requires rigorous honesty as there are no referees in golf. It requires courtesy and cooperation. In short, junior golf builds character.
2. Myth: It’s just big golf for little people.
Many people believe that junior golf simply introduces young people to the game in a scaled-down environment, teaching them the fundamentals without the distraction of having more senior players around. Again, that’s not quite right.
Learning golf in a junior program is a fundamentally different experience. Young people have different learning styles; they assimilate information differently from the way that more senior players do. In junior golf, it’s not a matter of “the same but smaller.” Rather, experienced instructors will find new and more creative approaches to help drive interest and participation. They’ll actually teach differently, in order to support this very different population of learners. Concepts are reduced to their fundamentals; complexity is pared away, leaving room for less sophisticated learners to find their way
3. Myth: Junior golf eyes the big game.
Golf is a worldwide endeavor, driven by governance at the highest levels and played by many with an eye toward a golf community that transcends geography. One might suppose that junior golf takes this same big-picture view.
In fact, junior golf is a much more localized phenomenon, and that can be a good thing for young people just getting into the game. Often a junior program will be sponsored by a local organization or club. Young players will stand shoulder to shoulder with kids from within their own communities, as their skills grow and they move up the ranks. Over time, this cadre will help fill out the ranks of their local golfing community, as more senior members retire from the game. Bonds formed in junior golf can become the glue that binds a local golfing society, ensuring continuity over time among an increasingly coherent band of peers. Golf is a community game, and the local nature of junior golf helps build that community.