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Getting Child into Golf


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I had the opposite experience with my dad when it came to playing golf. In sixth grade, I became the second serious golfer in my extended family. My aunt, an Air Force officer who won military tournaments on occasion, was the first.

Dad thought caddying was OK because of the money, but did not think much of golf as a sport. He begrudgingly let me play - I told him I had know the game to caddy - but he was never very supportive. Part of this ties to the fact that he was my Little League coach for five years. After the sixth-grade summer season (1962), I told him I didn't want to play baseball any more. I wasn't much good at baseball, and got limited playing time because my dad wanted to be fair to other players. I think me dropping baseball really soured him on golf.

He thought golf was a sissy sport, and said a person got more exercise doing 10 pushups than playing a round of golf. In part, I think he may have been like Francis Ouimet's father in the movie, "The Greatest Game Every Played." He was afraid the rich guys would never accept me as a golfer (although public golf courses were on the upswing at the time).

When I was in my early 20s, he went out and watched me play one time; he caddied for me for 15 holes, until he got tired and gave me the bag. I broke 90 quite readily from the back tees, and he admitted it was nice to walk around the course. I asked him along the way if he wanted to try some shots, but he kept declining.

So, it's nice to know of parents who support their kids playing golf. But, as iacas says, "keep it fun."

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Here's a couple of motivational topics you can bring up: tell your kid that golf is the only sport where one can come pretty close to replicating or even very occasionally doing better than a pro. Also, tell your kid that if he/she works especially hard on putting and chipping, they might be able to beat dad. In no other sport can an elementary school-aged kid take on an adult and genuinely have any chance of beating them head-to-head, as one could with a chipping or putting competition. Most kids get wide-eyed at the thought that they could compete with and even have a chance to beat their parents at anything, let alone a sport. I've had my daughter in First Tee programs on Thursday evenings or Saturday mornings the past two years, as pretty much every other juniors golf program in our area assumed that only one of the kid's two parents worked and had lessons typically schedued for 10 a.m. on weekday mornings. As someone else mentioned, the program is for all kids, not just disadvantaged ones. A good thing about the program is that they have a number of kids sets of clubs available to use at no extra charge, although almost every kid in my daughter's sessions has had his or her own clubs. Last year's lessons were pretty uneven because the instructor loved the game of golf quite a bit more than he loved teaching the game to kids, but this year the lessons with two other instructors have been excellent. Things to look for in a good kids golf program: are the kids paying attention or always looking around? Do they have a bored look on their faces or are they smiling a lot? Does the instructor seem to be having a good time and is he/she enjoying being around the kids, or is the lesson a chore? Are the kids getting good encouragement and positive feedback? Are they playing games and contests to make things more fun? Hi-fives are one of the best kids teaching tools ever invented, but beware an instructor who wants to have contact with a kid that's more than just a quick hand slap, shoulder pat or adjustment of hands on the grip - at a golf expo this winter to which I took my daughter, an assistant at one course's booth started trying to hug my daughter and pet her hair, so we got out of there fast and I e-mailed the head pro about it, as it was inappropriate. Be patient and careful you don't try too much coaching, as most kids seem resistant to taking much, if any, advice from mom or dad. Be super supportive and enthusiastic about as much as you can - if the swing was smooth, compliment that even if the ball didn't go very far. Emphasize that it's a hard sport even for adults and it requires a lot of patience, but eventually good shots will happen. Watching your kid make progress is terrific. I took my daughter out a number of times last year and she had a number of 40 yard shots, a few 50 yard shots and one that went 80 yards. Two weeks ago I took her out again on a quiet afternoon on a 9-hole muni course and she had at least 5 shots over 70 yards, she hit one green from 80 yards out and ended up putting from 10" off the back fringe (legitimately beating me on that hole by 2 strokes after I hit my tee shot off the toe so badly it ricocheted off two trees and ended up going backwards) and on a 93 yard par-3, she had a tee shot that was pin-high and just left of the green.
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On my sons 5th birday, he got a tee-ball whiffle-ball set..... all he wanted to do was drop the ball on the ground and pretend to hit golf shots with the bat!! LOL

I bought him a set of kids clubs that very day.....he'd whack at the balls in the backyard until his hands bled.  I'd tape him up...and he'd go back out and hit some more.    I started taking him to the big course with me at the same time on weekday evenings.  he'd mostly ride along in he cart.  I'd let him drop near my tee ball and let him take a whack or 2.  We'd pick it up, and I'd let him putt into the cup on the greens.  I play fast and his company didn't slow me down hardly at all.  he had a blast!!!!!  We did this for 3 years until my wife had to travel extensively........when she was traveling, my weekday evening play ended for 1 year.  During that span, I lost him as a golfer, but I will get him back eventually.....

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I started playing Golf when I was 4 years old (27 years old now.) For me, it was fun riding around in the golf cart watching my grandfather play and spending time with him, family, etc. He started teaching me how to put, chip, etc. For whatever reason, I just clicked with Golf and loved it. I think that's the big key to playing. You have to enjoy it. It takes years and years of practice and playing, and you must enjoy the challenge of constantly improving. I was away from the game for a long time due to school, work, girls, booze, etc, and now I'm getting back into it for the same reason I played when I was a Junior Golfer.

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First off, Iacas is right, the more fun he has the more he'll naturally WANT to progress.  Regarding the first tee, I have no experience with it but my uncle sent his daughter (they aren't a disadvantaged home) and it wasn't the best experience.  He said they spent more time teaching values than giving any real, valuable golf instruction.  What I advise is finding a kids summer camp type deal and sending him with a buddy.  This is what I did when I was just starting at 13 and I had a blast,  mom dropped me off in the morning every day for a week and we did a variety of different things until sometime in the afternoon.  That's when I made the decision that I wanted to take it somewhat seriously and we ended up getting lessons from the guy running the camp.

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A couple of concrete suggestions (I have 3 kids, 1 is fully addicted, 1 really enjoys it, 1 is relatively indifferent - 8th grader, 4th and 3rd). (1) Do not go out expecting to have your normal round. You have to let go of your score and play and focus on them. If that means stopping after 7 holes, not putting out your ball to keep the pace of play, playing with them from the forward tees, doing a scramble or whatever, do it. (2) Playing scrambles (easy for me with multiple kids, but can do it with you and 1 kid) is great because it gives everyone in the group a chance to contribute and get excited. My daughter might only hit the ball 50-70 yards all day but if she sinks a birdie put for the team she goes home pumped up. (3) Try to remember when you first started and how long an 18 hole round felt. I realize that money is a significant issue and we're lucky enough to be members of a club, but if you can swing it - playing 4 holes or 2 holes or whatever is a great way to keep them into it without crossing over into boring them or exhausting them. (4) This is kind of a repeat of point 1, but be ok with it if they do something you would never do - like sit out two holes or deciding not to finish a hole or whatever. (5) Obviously this is hugely dependent on your individual game but TRY to have perspective on your own ability and how it might extend (or not) to teaching. As a beginning golfer, I wouldn't dream of giving any swing tips or coaching. I do teach the things I know - etiquette, club choice, pace of play but I shut my trap on even things like alignment. I let the pro do the teaching. Many people on this site I'm sure are great at teaching/coaching but be honest with yourself. (6) Try to play twilight or take a mid afternoon break from work or something that allows you to get on the course when it's not crowded. Really hard to relax and let them explore the game when you're hyper aware of pace of play and the tee is stacked up behind you. (7) I would hold off going to a full, championship style 6000+ yard course. A 565 yard par five is just so overwhelming for a little kid or anyone who is hitting the ball 75 yards or whatever. I started them all on the local 9 hole executive course. (7) Love golf and be a good sport! If you come home every time you play with your buddies cursing your shitty game and complaining about how slow the course was and so on and so forth, your kids are going to pick up on that and not be super excited about playing.
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