If you love the game of golf, you probably often dream about the day your children can join you on the course. And if you’re not a golfer, you may be thinking about whether or not this is a good activity to get your child involved. The answer is yes; the real question is how and where to start.
Children can be exposed to the game of golf as toddlers. It’s best to hold off on any formal training for a few more years once a child has a little more maturity and attention span and is starting to develop muscle memory. Golf is a great way to get your child some healthy activity and get them outdoors and away from their devices. It can strengthen core muscles, help develop hand-eye coordination and serve as a platform for them to develop interests in other sports. As Jack Nicklaus once said, “Kids grow up a lot faster on the golf course. Golf teaches you how to behave.”
The important thing is to keep it fun for young children. Golf is a game for life; there is plenty of time to learn the intricacies of the game.
One of the best ways to introduce juniors to the game of golf is to have them participate in a group atmosphere and make the experience a social one. There are plenty of golf camps in the summer, after-school programs and group lessons they can take with friends or family. At the onset, they should experience the joy and excitement of the game as opposed to learning techniques. Once they have established interest, you can experiment with private lessons. The goal here is to not overwhelm them at first. If they don’t show initial interest, don’t force them and try different, fun approaches.
For example, golf Tic-Tac-Toe is a game you can play at the range or at home. It involves putting or chipping a golf ball into a Tic-Tac-Toe board to earn you X or O. Another game is called Baseball Bunker where the object is similar to baseball. For example, golfers are split into two teams and the goal is to hit bunker shots and collect points. Points are set up as so: if the golfer gets the ball out of the bunker then it is a single; if the ball gets out and lands on the green, then it is considered a double; if the ball lands within a 10-foot circle, then it is a triple; if the ball goes in the hole, then it is considered a home run. The team with the most points wins the game. Here at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, we host the “Caddie Olympics,” an entertaining experience that teaches how to properly maintain the golf clubs and course when playing.
While golf is often considered to be an individual sport, it does not have to be a solitary experience and is great for family participation. There are many ways families can practice at home or at the golf course, bonding in a healthy way. The pace of the game also provides ample opportunity for talking with your children and having meaningful or light conversations, which, for many parents, can sometimes be a challenge. It’s also played in the perfect setting for families to get together — peaceful, scenic and away from the noise of the world.
If the people in your family are at different skill levels, you can still enjoy the game together by leveling the playing field. Golfers that are new to the game can shorten the holes by starting out 50 to 100 yards from the green to play the hole in, while more advanced players can play from their desired tee box. This is something that is suggested for all new golfers — shorten the holes so they are able to obtain around the same score as an advanced player. Once the golfer has mastered the shorter distance, then they can move back in distance to increase the difficulty in the holes.
There are plenty of opportunities to get children involved in golf in the Central Texas area. Junior golfers can get involved with their local First Tee chapter to help improve their golf skills. The First tee teaches life skills as well helps juniors in everyday life as well.
For junior golfers getting into tournament play, U.S. Kids Golf is a great program that helps them get started with events by having 6-hole, 9-hole or 18-hole play. Advanced players can join in events with the local PGA section. These events help prep junior golfers for high school golf.
No matter the age, athleticism or skill level, golf is a great game for juniors as it is a fun and healthy sport they can play for the rest of their life. Golf teaches kids so many life skills like honesty, integrity, responsibility, respect and sportsmanship. So give it a shot!
About the Author
Ashley Skidmore is the director of golf at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa’s Hill Country Golf Club. With nearly a decade of experience in golf management, Skidmore has worked at several golf clubs throughout the region including Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, Teravista Golf Club in Round Rock, the Broadmoor in Colorado, and Promontory Ranch Golf Club in Utah. She has received several accolades throughout her career including the 2020 STPGA “Golf Professional of the Year” and the STPGA “Player Development” award in 2017.