Today, we have a Guest Writer: Bobby Hurst from GolferPros! If you have kids and want to know how to raise them to enjoy golf as you do, read Bobby's article. As a dad myself with a boy interested in the game, I hope you appreciate the article as much as I do.
How To Raise Your Kids To Play Golf
Golf has been revered as a game of focus. While most people typically think of an older generation when referring to players of the sport, the junior golf league is a thriving and increasingly competitive industry. This comes as no surprise because golf is a wonderful sport that develops many good qualities in a young athlete.
Raising your child to play golf may even play a large role in helping them grow, learn, and develop into humble, focused, and calm individuals. On almost all levels - social, emotional, and physical - golf can have long-lasting developmental effects on your children.
While it is still up to the child whether they will enjoy the sport or not, it is your goal as a parent to give them the best opportunity to learn and love the game. It might not be the easiest endeavor to partake but it will definitely be a fulfilling challenge to pursue.
Being A Golf Parent
Many parents become anxious as they fill their heads with thoughts and expectations of how their child will learn golf and then grow up to become the next Tiger Woods.
Believing that your child can achieve the greatest things is second nature to most parents. But, setting such high expectations on a toddler just because they were able to hit the ball with a short foam stick isn’t healthy. The first step to being a golf parent is to:
Focus on Fun!
Kids don’t learn rules and technicalities in the same way that the grown-ups do. Instead, your kids will best learn the game by actually playing it.
And no, I don’t mean getting them to complete an 8-hole course straight away; let them play as kids do - just for the fun of it! That means playing without the technicalities, they will learn all the rules as they get more familiar with the game.
If you truly want to keep their attention and interest in the sport, let them learn the game by loving the game to start. Once they feel more comfortable just swinging at the ball, they’ll slowly start to see the pros play and observe other golfers. After a while, they’ll develop a natural interest to know the actual rules. Especially when you get them to start playing with other kids their age.
When playing golf with your kids, it is definitely important to have...
The Right Teacher
This might be a shock, but the best teacher for your child is your child! Or, as the popular and very true saying goes, “Experience is the best teacher.”
Let them explore. Let them take the lead. And even better would be when you let them teach you. Follow them and you will be amazed at how much children are actually able to learn on their own.
When they’ve officially accepted you as their playmate, you might even be able to add a few suggestions (leading to actual gameplay) every now and then. Every parent knows that a bit of creativity can go a long way when getting your kids to learn and do new things.
The goal is to let them learn and explore at their own pace, and when they do, you’ll need to get...
Junior Golf Equipment
Your kids may have been playing with your old golf clubs or smaller plastic toy versions that you got them, but when they start to show some real interest in the game, it is best to get them proper junior golfing equipment.
There are actually a lot of golf sets that are custom-made for kids of different ages. If you’re looking for a set for your kid, there are a lot of recommendations and reviews available at GolferPros.
Regular old golf clubs won’t cut it if you want your child to really learn and become a junior golfer. They need to have the right sized clubs so they can swing properly. If their clubs are too long or too heavy, they’ll have a hard time hitting the golf ball. This could end in 2 possible scenarios: The first is that they’ll lose interest in the game; the second is that they will have to overcompensate and will not be able to learn to swing properly. Getting the right form involves having the right golf set.
A complete junior golfer’s kit won’t really need a complete 14-club golf set. Having as few as 5 clubs should be alright as long as you have a driver, a putter, an iron, a wood, and a wedge. For older kids, you’ll have to add in even more variety since they’ll need to work on different skill sets over time.
Final Piece of Advice
Most adults play golf under their own conditions. They play for the enjoyment of the game, or for that feeling of winning a tournament. But, for most mature adults, they are backed with years of life experience that shields them for the pressures of expectations.
Kids, however, are different. Pressure has a much greater impact on a child’s gameplay. When your child is old enough to join junior golf tournaments and play by the rules of the game, it can become difficult to keep it a fun and enjoyable event.
This is even more so when your child starts improving and competing in larger events. Your challenge, as a golf parent, is to keep your eye on the prize. In this case, the prize is not that trophy or perfect swing - it’s your child’s happiness.
Remember that golf, while still being a competitive sport, is still just a game. There are many times when a junior golfer breaks down in tears from the pressures of having to do well in a golf game. Sometimes, the expectations are set by the parents, coaches, or other people who have been supportive of them. At other times, the expectations can also come from the child themselves and their wanting to make their parents and the adults around them happy.
Kids, in whatever they do, often seek attention and approval from their guardians. It’s important that you remind your child that your support is not measured by their success in the game nor will a bogey cause you to love them less.
Pushing your child to work better and to improve on the sport may seem like the right thing, especially when you see your child’s potential early on. But, some kids are unable to carry the burdens of such expectations. And with their nerves getting to them, will only end up performing worse. Not to mention that it isn’t just their love of the game that will be reduced, their psyche will be negatively impacted. There is the danger of a child growing resentment for the sport and for their parents as well.
While we don’t want to scare you, we urge you to tread carefully. The true golf parent does not count the number of swings their child does in practice; nor is it the one who measures each shot, grades each swing, or obsesses over all the little things of the game.
The true golf parent gives their child the space they need to grow and the support they deserve - and also brings after course snacks.
Bobby Hurst Is the founder of golferpros.com. He has been an avid golfer and instructor for over 20 years. He has always been passionate about the sport for as long as he can remember and considers the GolferPros site as a passion project where he gets to share his love of golf with other avid golfers. He considers golf to be a sport that exercises both the mind and body; which is why you will constantly find him out on the course at least once a week. He enjoys trying out new techniques, and equipment.
You can find his golfing tips, and reviews on golfing equipment on his site: https://golferpros.com/