Spring is right around the corner. Hoops will be coming to a close and soccer and baseball will be starting soon. Let’s make some time for golf as well! I have taught kids from ages 5 -18 for over a decade, coached PGA Jr League, and lead clinics with as many as 50 students. It requires a lot of patience but can be a lot of fun if done the right way. I’d like to offer some tips to parents and coaches alike, who will be teeing it up with their little ones this year. Encourage and teach, but keep it enjoyable. If kids today aren’t playing the game in 10 – 15 years, golf will struggle and I may be out of a job.
Things not to say Don’t say keep your head down, swing slower, or straighten your left arm. All garbage advice and will do nothing but harm them in the long run. Instead offer positive advice like keep your knees bent or bend at your hips. Let them swing fast and try to hit it hard, unless it’s a 6 foot putt of course.
Tee it high, let it fly Let them use a tee, anywhere. They’ll have more fun seeing the ball in the air than topping and rolling it all afternoon.
Short is fun They don’t have to play from the red tees and some courses even offer junior tees. But I have a rule I go by depending on their age; tee off from the 150 yard marker on par 5’s, 100 yard marker on par 4’s, and anywhere you see fit on par 3’s. If they insist on hitting somewhere else, let them. They’ll learn for themselves. And let them try to make it over the water. Kids get a kick out of that. If they make it over, it will be a huge reward and you’ll never forget the look on their face. If they make a splash, well they enjoy that too.
They make the call Let them choose when they want to play or practice. Don’t force it or drag them out there. If they’re not in the mood, they’ll ruin your day very quickly. If they feel like soccer or baseball that day instead, so be it. They’ll eventually say “hey mom, can we go putt” or “dad, let’s go play golf” and you will be stoked.
Prepare Call the course and see if there is a better time to come with your junior. You don’t want to be stuck between foursome after foursome spending most of the time letting groups play through. A good time is usually in the evening during the summer, and you’ll find a pretty cheap junior rate and twilight rate for you. At my course in Kentucky, every day after 3:00pm we offered a free junior green fee with each adult.
Keep it casual They may not want to play all 9 holes, and that’s ok. Or they may just want to putt on some holes, or hit out of the sand. The golf course needs to be a friendly, enjoyable place for them. If they associate it with you yelling at them all day they won’t want to go back anytime soon. Kids are also going to be more obsessed with wildlife than their 12 foot putt as well. Let them take it all in and go watch the ducks on the pond. All part of the experience.
Play a scramble Don’t worry about your own game. I get it, you’re there to practice too. But if you grind over a 5 footer, miss, swear and toss your putter…..you’ve set an awesome example. There’s nothing wrong with using this time to practice on your own game, but remember why you’re out there.
Players Championship Picks After two brutal weeks in Florida, we move to another difficult venue in the TPC at Sawgrass for the “5th” major. The wind blew hard at Honda, delivering a winning score of -6, and the same conditions brought the field to its knees at Arnold Palmer, with a winning score of -4. If the wind lies down I can see the winning score nearing double digits at the Players, but they boys are not getting a break on the tricky Pete Dye track. Winner Justin Thomas I just have a feeling this is his year. And if it is, he’s going to have to win a major and a couple huge tournaments. Here’s one. Will contend Marc Leishman Dude is flat out solid and consistent. He always seems to find his way to the front page of the leaderboard during the biggest events on the best courses. Top 3 last week has him feeling good. Sleeper Jordan Speith Speith may not fall under the category of a sleeper by name, but if he won it would be a huge surprise. So that’s a sleeper to me. He has slowly been trending in the right direction and I just think he’ll play well this week.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Written by Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional
Designed and Published by Craig Walton