Teaching Kids the Game of a Lifetime
As my family is growing (daughter born 6/10/11, son born 3/30/08) I’ve started to think about how I’ll introduce them to the game. I’ve taught a lot of other people’s kids in the past, but never my own. Here are some of the best things I’ve learned about introducing kids to the game.
• First and foremost, you have to make golf fun for the kids. If it is seen as a chore, they will hate it and have bad memories and thoughts about golf for the rest of their lives. So having brand new junior golfers hit putts for an hour or hit hundreds of ball in a row will seem like boot camp to them. So let the kids hit balls at the picker cart, or build sand castles in the bunkers, or play with their friends.
• They have to experience success early on, or they’ll get frustrated and shut down. So let them hit tennis balls or even beach balls initially so they can experience getting the ball airborne. Experienced adult golfers may not remember how small the golf ball is, or how hard it is to get it airborne for someone who’s never done it before.
• Get equipment that fits. Most kids don’t need the latest and greatest clubs and accessories. But small children do need clubs that fit them. Do not give kids cut down adult clubs! These are way too heavy, and cutting the shafts makes them so stiff that the child will likely never get the ball airborne. The average 6 year old weights 46 lbs, so if they’re swinging a cut down adult that weighs 2 lbs, it’s the equivalent of a 180 lb man swinging an eight pound sledge hammer. US Kids Golf (http://www.uskidsgolf.com) makes great clubs, and many are available second hand at resale stores, garage sales and on Ebay. (I’m not affiliated with US Kids Golf in any way.)
• Kids have short attention spans. As the father of a three year old boy, I know this first hand. Keep this in mind when teaching them how to play. After a few minutes, they might be chasing butterflies, digging in the dirt, or sword fighting with their clubs but that’s OK as long as they are having fun and are at the golf course. Having kids equate golf course with fun early on is key! See above.
• Have realistic expectations. Please realize how unlikely it is that your kid is the next __________(insert favorite Tour player). It’s possible, but about as likely as winning the lottery. Also, if you expect your kid to be good enough at golf to earn a college scholarship, I suggest you not visit the golf course, but the library instead (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870382430457543534072491762...).
Introducing your kids to golf can bring them a lifetime of enjoyment, provide quality time for you with your kids, and teach them sportsmanship, honesty, teamwork, and work ethics. It’s a great game, and the sooner a person learns, the better!
Brant Kasbohm, PGA
Director of Instruction