Golf used to have an image of being a stuffy, old man’s sport that was boring and dull.
Today, those stereotypes are massively out of date. Golf is a rapidly growing sport and more and more golf clubs have relaxed their rules to make it more inclusive. Especially for junior golfers. That includes the dress code, this isn’t to say that you can rock up to a local golf course in any old working gear but the fashion in golf could be just as trendy about town.
That’s where ‘everyshotcounts‘ comes in.
WHAT’S AN APPROPRIATE AGE TO START GOLFING FOR YOUR CHILD?
There’s golf clubs for toddlers aged 18 months plus, so from a general point of view, there’s nothing to stop you giving your kids a child golf set made out of plastic.
To go on a golf course for the first time it’s recommended that your children are of school age, so around 5-6 is perfect for getting on the course for the first time as they are more likely to absorb more of the golfing etiquette that’s required on the course.
ONE BIG QUESTION IS, DO I NEED LESSONS?
At first, the simple answer is no, you don’t need golf lessons before you go on a course. Getting lessons straight away can take some of the fun out of things. It may be best to let your child develop a natural golf swing with hand-eye coordination.
Many kids who play other bat and ball style games, like tennis or cricket for example, seem to have a natural ability for junior golf. That’s not to say multi-sports is a must but it can be an advantage to encourage kids to take part in as many sports as possible thereby gaining multiple skills and, importantly, exercise.
There’s no one correct way to swing a golf club, every one has a different swing and for each individual, if they were put under the microscope, every swing would be unique and have different characteristics.
The golf course can be intimidating and for some places you’ll need a handicap before you can play there, but there are many golf courses where you can play without being a member or having a handicap. So don’t be discouraged.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET YOUR KIDS INTO GOLF WITHOUT GETTING ON A GOLF COURSE STRAIGHT AWAY?
1. Get a plastic children’s golf set or a starter club.
Incredibly cheap and great for the very young. A set like this is ideal for them to whack the ball around the garden and get the general idea of how to stand and hit the ball. This is a very early chance to teach motor skills and hand-eye coordination. See if they take to it.
2. Crazy golf
Crazy golf is a great introduction to playing golf. It’s fun, cheap and fast and it gives your child a taste of what it’s actually like to get the ball in the hole. Even if you’re not a golfer yourself you can join in the fun here and introduce some healthy competition. Why not get the whole family involved?
3. Pitch and Putt
The next step could be pitch and putt. Pitch and putt is a fantastic way to get kids into golf and even if an adult is curious about the game this is a great way try it out without having to test yourself on a full size course.
The holes are fairly short in length ranging from 20 to 100 yards for some longer pitch and putt courses but it allows you to develop a swing, without worrying about trying to whack the ball as hard as you can down the fairway.
For young kids new to junior golf, they may benefit from using a 7 iron to get around. For older and stronger kids they could use a pitching wedge or sand wedge depending on the distances required to hit it. The people who work at your local pitch and putt should be able to guide you as to what might be the best club to use.
4. Get down to the driving range
At Trafford Driving range in Manchester, for example, they have two levels, you can hire clubs, they have a cafe and in 2018 they introduced Dino golf which is a fun, dinosaur themed, crazy golf course with 18 holes and moving dinosaurs. This can be played by the whole family.
The driving range is great way to give your kids a taste of golf. This is where you can fully test them out before they get on a course for real. The beauty of the driving range is that you don’t have to walk after or collect all of the balls after you’ve hit them.
Some driving ranges have clubs you can hire but some don’t so it’s always best to call and check ahead before you go.
5. Learn through school
As well as reaching out to your local golf club which may have a junior golf program in place you can check out The Golf Foundation. This is a charitable organisation working to introduce boys and girls from all walks of life to the benefits of golf.
The Golf Foundation is more active than ever with junior golf. They have developed their own version of golf that can be used in both primary and secondary schools.
What is Tri Golf?
Tri-Golf is a mini version of golf for the younger kids. It’s a high energy game that helps with kids fitness and introduces them to the game in a fun and relaxed environment.
For school teachers interested in building their own Tri-Golf course at their school, check out the following handy guide provided by The Golf Foundation
What is Street Golf?
Street-Golf is a game which uses specially designed golf clubs that are extremely child friendly and uses golf balls that are softer and have a reduced ball flight. On their website you can access Regional Development Officers. From here you can find out where your kids can access golf tuition and participation.
They even have a Junior Golf Passport scheme which measures your child’s progress as they develop different skills.
6. Kids group golf lessons with a golf coach
Golf lessons aren’t necessary to get on a golf course but if your child is enjoying golf and wants to take it a bit more seriously then find a local golf club or driving range that conducts group lessons. They’re sometimes called Golf Academies. Kids golf lessons are relatively inexpensive, especially in groups. You can usually find them for as little as £5 per session.
Junior golfers are actively encouraged to participate by Golf Clubs and Academies countrywide. This is because, in order to grow the game, we need to encourage the next generation to play and keep playing.
7. Taking the plunge
If you’ve decided that you want to take the game a little more seriously, well enough to want to get your own clubs. I would strongly recommend that you get the right clubs for you. There are lots of people who will give you advice and some of it will be useful. Don’t be tempted to use a set of adult clubs either at full length or cut down.
This will only make the game too hard and you will lose interest very quickly as you won’t be able to make the ball go where you want it too. I would strongly recommend you get a set of junior golf clubs made specifically for the correct height. This means that the weighting of the club is correct and gives the child the best chance of developing a good swing.
There Are a few options out there from different manufacturers but my favourite are US Kids clubs. They make a selection of clubs from beginners to intermediate to advanced. They measure clubs based on a child’s height and go up to just short of adults clubs. (They also make ladies lightweight clubs if Mum wants to join in!)
If you’re in any doubt then please get in touch for some advice.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GETTING YOUR CHILD IN TO GOLF?
1. Playing golf will make your child healthier
If your child plays golf just twice a month that could be around 4,000 extra calories being burned. Throw in some practice and that can be up to 5000 calories per month.
The average golf course from the red tees will be about 5 km. There aren’t many activities you can do to convince your child to walk 5 km these days.
It’s not just the walking that makes golf so good for your health but you’re also carrying or pulling your golf bag along which helps to burn even more calories.
2. Better decision making.
The strategy required to successfully navigate your way around a golf course requires great decision making. Everyone can make decisions but there are those who learn from those decisions and grow in confidence and there are those who hit and hope then repeat that process.
Good golf requires people to get their thinking caps on. It isn’t just about hitting the ball as hard as you can, it’s about calculating distances, using the right clubs in the bag for the job at hand and to best come up with a way to navigate that hole.
3. Learn new motor skills
Motor skills are movements of precise muscles, in golf the full swing uses gross motor skills, whereas short chips and putts require use of fine motor skills. Mastering the control of muscle groups is a skill that helps throughout all of life’s tasks from handwriting to having correct posture.
4. Golf can be played alone or with friends.
A great thing about golf is that it can be played alone. Perhaps not ideal for the youngsters, but going in to your teens, if you want to play and there’s no one around you can just get yourself out on the course.
Playing alone has several benefits, there are less distractions, there’s less waiting around, and all of your focus is on your game and how you can improve. Or you might just enjoy the peace and quiet. Either way you’ll probably be a better golfer for it. Playing golf with friends in a cracking atmosphere doesn’t have to be limited to your local course.
With the friends you make along the way, you can travel the world together playing in some stunning locations. Also you can challenge yourselves to play at some of the worlds most famous golf courses. Places where Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy have wowed the world. Because unlike most sports some of the most famous courses in the world are accessible to us all. Imagine trying to book a game of football with your mates at Wembley or cricket at Lords, wouldn’t that be cool.
Golf is also great for meeting new people and creating life long friendships. At most golf courses you can play in competitions alongside whoever you put your name down with, whether that’s friends you know or friends you haven’t met yet.
5. Golf is affordable
Golf used to be expensive to play but from the year 2000 to today, golf memberships costs have been reducing. This isn’t surprising when you consider the amount of golf courses all competing for your membership. Here in the UK we are lucky enough to have a huge amount of golf courses, so the choice is endless when thinking about which club to play at or to join.
For kids there are some great deals available across the UK. Ask around and find out about what your local clubs are doing for juniors and see how much it is to get your child playing on the course. A lot of them even offer junior membership for free. After all, they are future paying members.
6. Junior golf is accessible and inclusive for kids of all shapes, sizes and ages.
Golf is a rare sport where you don’t have to be physically super fit to play. That’s not to say to perform at the best level you can just turn up and be a superstar but even unfit kids can get out and play on the golf course. It can be a gentle form of exercise that isn’t as intimidating to some kids as other sports.
Once a child becomes used to playing golf, they will be using their muscles more regularly which will help them to become better golfers and better athletes.
The best advice is to start small. Play shortened holes and see how things go. Junior golfers can lose interest if it takes 10 shots before they even get to the green. As they improve they will naturally hit the ball further, that’s when you can increase the length of each hole.
Once proficient at the game it’s up to your child how far they want to go in the sport. Again, unlike other team sports, with golf, if you’re good enough you don’t need to rely on a coach or manager to pick you for the team. If you’re good enough to qualify for events then no-one can stop you.
7. Competition is healthy.
Your kids don’t have to be the most competitive people in the world but you may want to help them to be the best they can be.
With golf you can try to be as good as you want to be. But if you can’t shoot under 80 you can still compete. You might not win your competition but you may have scored your best ever round. You may not win the monthly medal every week but you can aim to get your handicap down. Golf isn’t just about competing against others you can also compete against yourself and against the golf course.
Every time you step out on to the course you’re competing against your previous best scores. So every shot counts.
8. Getting hours of fresh air.
We all know the benefits from getting a dose of fresh air. Not only does it make you feel happier, but also fresh air helps to improve your heart rate and your blood flow.
Not just that, it also helps to keep your lungs healthy too. If you’re not ready for the full 18 holes, then 9 holes can still be a good couple of hours spent outdoors.
9. Become the next Tiger or Rory?
Who knows what your child could achieve with golf. The most important thing is to just let them enjoy playing. Don’t be the overbearing parent who’s forcing your child to practice too much. Just see how they go with it. I guarantee that the first time they hit a great shot they’ll be nagging you to go back for more.
Golf is awesome but it’s not a forgiving sport. Getting in to golf can be difficult for some players but with some guidance you can quickly develop into a good golfer. Although some players don’t stick at it, most do, and the wonderful thing is that it can be a game played from a very young age until long after retirement. So your kids could make life long friends playing a wonderful game.
Unlike most sports, golf can be played by players of all abilities competing on level terms due to the handicapping system. 12 year olds can compete against 17 year olds and have as good a chance of winning. That couldn’t be said for some other sports like football for instance.