Article Prepared by Frank Mantua, PGA Professional, Director of Golf, US Golf Camps
The game of golf is experiencing a “boom” of new life as youth are discovering the excitement of a day at the course. New facilities that offer children affordable access to play the game are being constructed throughout the country and the world. This article is written for parents to offer tips on how to attract their youngsters to play this “game for a lifetime”.
Ideally, your son or daughter will approach you one day and express an interest in learning to play golf. You may have to cultivate that interest in them because you appreciate the qualities that golf embodies and want your children to share those experiences. No matter, because you, the parent, are the person who must provide access and offer encouragement to your children.
One of the keys to getting your child interested in golf is finding a program that they enjoy participating in. Select a program that nurtures their interest and stresses having fun. A visit to GirlsGolf.org or http://www.juniorlinks.com is a way to find out what programs are available in your area. Other information sources may be your local recreation department or your local LPGA or PGA Professional. Many schools also have golf programs and these are a great way for the serious junior golfer to develop his or her interest.
Ultimately, parents are the catalyst to the growth of their child’s interest in golf. A visit to the driving range where your child and you can spend time together is an excellent way to get started. Invite some of your child’s friends along so that they associate golf with FUN. Unless you are qualified to teach, don’t worry too much about instructing your child. Just make sure that he or she gets an opportunity to hit some balls and enjoy the exercise.
Once a strong foundation has been developed, a visit to your local course or Par 3 course is warranted. Try to play in non-peak hours so that your child is not subject to the pressures of pace of play requirements of a busy facility. Children learn by imitation, encourage watching an LPGA or PGA event on TV. If you should have a tour event in your local area, go to the course. The crowds and excitement of big time golf are great magnets for a young person’s imagination.
Many recreation departments and most public golf facilities offer junior programs (usually in the summer months). One advantage of utilizing these programs is the social interaction that your child experiences with the other children in the clinic. Kids learn that golf is a social game played by rules of conduct and proper etiquette.
For advanced juniors who show an interest, junior tournaments are a great way to test their skills. It is important that participation in tournaments is the child’s idea. Access and encouragement are two important things that parents can provide to their children to help them learn and enjoy golf.