So you’re child has decided to try golf. What’s your next course of action?
The first part of the golf parenting journey is selecting the correct facility/instructor combination for your child. Just because you are a member at a club, doesn’t mean that club is where your child needs to start playing. I have several kids whose parents belong to area private clubs, but they know we (at StonyCreek Golf Club) do a ton of work with kids.
Every facility is different. Simply because you love the club you’re at, doesn’t always mean it is the best place for your child. A good place to start would be here– it is always best to ask other people where they have had good experiences. If you don’t know anyone that can help, start calling facilities and talking with the person that would be working with your child.
I know I spend almost as much time on the phone talking with parents to schedule the first lesson as I do on the range for the first lesson. Here are some questions I have been asked that I think are good:
- “How long have you been teaching?”
- “What percentage of your lessons are junior golfers?
- “Who is your favorite type of student?”
- “What are the opportunities for juniors to play at your facility?”
You can use the answers to these questions to decide if a particular golf professional is the right fit for your junior.
The pro at the most difficult course in town may tell you his favorite student is a low handicap tournament player. He may not have given a junior lesson yet this season. This teacher probably isn’t the right guy at the right course for your 6-year old.
Someone once told me not to judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree…we all have our strengths. Golf professionals are no different and you need to find someone whose strength is working with kids.
Now you have found the perfect facility and a wonderful instructor, what next?
Your next step is to trust your instructor. Everyone has their own programs that work best for their students, but as a golf parent you are going to have responsibility too.
Just like anything that you are learning for the first time, a half hour a week isn’t going to get you very far very fast, it is going to take more time than that. I am not suggesting that you buy a range pass and hit 500 balls per day with your 8-year old, but this will work best if you spend time on golf outside of your lessons.
My kids are 5 and 3 and we spend a ton of time in the front yard hitting balls, not golf balls, but 6 inch inflatable Elmo balls we got at Walmart.
They can’t hurt anything or anybody and they never miss. The younger and less experienced the kid, the bigger the ball. If they are not working to make sure they make contact, they have the freedom to swing. This way, when we put a real golf ball in front of them, they will be more likely to swing freely instead of trying to “hit” the ball. Kids can learn so much during this phase of free swinging.
There’s one last thing– have fun!
If you are already a golfer, you are grooming your next playing partner and if you aren’t a golfer (yet) now is the perfect time to pick it up. Golf is a lifelong game and something you can do with your children for years to come.