Navigating the Golf World
Sports & Athletics | March 26, 2018
By Carolyn Barnett-Howe, PGA, Swing Solutions
In this world of ‘helicopter mom’s’ and ‘the over-programmed child’ it is difficult for parents to find the right path as they navigate the athletic world for their children. “How much is too much?” “What is age appropriate?” “What will feed their curiosity and keep their interest without overwhelming them?” Lastly, “does my investment really need to be that high?”
As a PGA Professional who has developed more than 80 golfers for college golf (and many more who played
successfully in high school), here are my thoughts on developing a happy, healthy golf relationship with your child.
- Children may start when they are mature enough to understand the safety principles associated with swinging a club and the concept of personal space. Regardless, they need to be supervised until the age of seven (or older depending on their maturity).
- Starting early does not necessarily mean that they will be a ‘star.’ If you start early, use it as quality bonding time or a shared activity during the younger years. They may like golf, but they really love being with mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. It’s also never too late; children who start at ages 10-14 tend to catch up quickly because they are bigger and stronger, and have other athletic experiences to lean on.
- Cart vs no cart is interesting. Neither is bad, but do not make the cart the best part of the day. We used to let our kids ride when their shot was long enough to warrant a ride. Otherwise, we had them sprint to their ball.
- It is a challenging and big game with many facets. Some days we would play three holes and call it a day. There are plenty of twilight programs that make this financially reasonable. Other days, we would complete 9-holes, playing alternate shot. They may only hit it 50 yards, but my shot brought them right back on track and kept us moving. Children like this format. As they grew older and could hit it fairly well, but struggled with chipping, trees and other obstacles, we gave them ‘one throw per hole.’ They figured out quite quickly that a well-placed throw near the green had the most impact on their score! Remember, young children do not play football on a 100- yard field or basketball on a full court right away. Typically, they wear out your yard or driveway as they learn skills. Think similarly for golf and you will be on the right track!
- Lastly, do not be afraid of counting all shots. They do not know what a good score is unless you tell them. Promote honesty early!