I’ve worked with hundreds of junior golfers. But working with those juniors isn’t the only dynamic in teaching. Relationships with their golfing parents remains largely, one of the most important factors in the development of a junior golfer. I have had fantastic relationships with so many parents and after years of observation, I’ve been able to identify a few interesting characteristics of good parents that are quite common in the parents of some of my most successful juniors.
Last week, I highlighted the 5 Characteristics All Great Players Share and dove into what makes golfers successful. Now, let’s talk about some of the parents.
1. They don’t actually play golf themselves
Actually, most of my parents do play the game, they just don’t play it competitively or intensely in tournaments. They are either recreational golfers who love the game or non-golfers. In my years, many competitive golf parents tend to place undue pressure on their students to succeed or do things a certain way in order to hone their craft.
I’m not saying that a great golfer will be a poor golfing parent (look at the PGA Tour, some PGA Tour players have had children make it in golf as well– the Haas’, Stadler’s, etc), but many great golfing parents don’t play golf.
If you are a tournament intense parent, you CAN be a great golfing parent for your child if you have these other traits below!
2. They are supportive, but hands off
Great golfing parents are never over-bearing. As an instructor, I can’t place enough of an emphasis on this. I’ve seen students enter practice sessions when their parents have been over-bearing on their golf games and they are tense. They are closed off and not receptive to new information.
Supportive parents understand the importance of independence and they create an environment where their independence is fostered. They allow their child to make mistakes on their own and create a sense of ownership in their golf games. They have unending support for their children, but they do not interfere with the process set forth by the teacher/student.
3. They understand their role
These parents understand their role as a parent. The key word in that sentence is “parent”. They are not the student and they are not the one hitting the shots on the golf course. They are also not the instructor and don’t interfere with the vision for the students golf career.
Now don’t misconstrue what I am saying here. Parents need to be involved. But the difference is that parents need to be involved more in being observational than technical. Great golfing parents understand they are there to love their child, support their child and give their child the opportunity to achieve.
(Remember parents, you are your child’s first role model and influence. That is an extremely important role in and of itself!)
4. They understand the importance of one central message
This is the most important trait.
One central message is the only way for progress in a student’s golf game. If a student comes to a lesson, we work for hours on particular thoughts, positions or methods. If the parent is offering insights of their own from a distance, the student will be confused. It is difficult for the student to build belief in our process if the student is receiving conflicting information from a parent. I cannot stress this enough.
My door is always open to discuss with parents the path of their child’s golf career. But if they want me to work with their child and entrust that student to my supervision, it is very important that I am the authoritative voice in golf swing discussion.
5. They are stoic
Great golf characteristics parents have an awesome disposition on the golf course. Few things discourage me more than to see a student struggle during a round of golf, only to look over to their parent and seeing visible disgust. That student will have a very difficult time in getting focused on golf again. They will only be thinking about the disappointment they are causing their parent!
Every parent that has positive influences on their children remain stoic. They may clap or give encouragement, but not only on good shots. They are relentlessly supportive, but they do not allow their emotions to get out of control during rounds of golf.
I would sometimes even caution against exuberance from a parent during successes too. If a student is used to seeing their parents become outwardly excited during the good, but notice the parent go quiet during a tough stretch, it has psychological effects. These are juniors we are talking about and their mental games are developing.
Thank you for reading about the great characteristics to have to be a good golfing parent! I know your child will appreciate your love and support when learning how to be great at golf!
Fairways and greens.