One of the most frequent questions I get is “when should I start my children in golf?” While there is no one right answer, the best advice I can give is to start your child as soon as they show an interest in playing. For some children they are interested at 3 years old. For others, it may be 11. The most important thing is to expose them to the game and foster their interest as they get excited.
We have all seen highlights of Tiger Woods on the Mike Douglas show as a two year old putting against Bob Hope. At the age of two, Tiger was already showing his ability to become the greatest golfer of all time and one of the best athletes ever.
Is it realistic to think your two-year-old child can get started playing golf? While Tiger was playing at two, most children do not have the attention span or coordination to play golf at such a young age.
So when is the right time and how do you introduce your child to the game? There is not defined time that says if you start your youngster at a certain age that they will or won’t be a champion.
The best way to initially introduce the game to your child is to take them to the driving range and letting them swing away. Children are such great imitators that by just observing, they tend to have pretty good motion in their swing. At this point the only real instruction that they need to be given is to place their hands next to each other on the handle of the golf club and point them in the right direction. At this point it is important that the child put the golf ball up on a tee. As they are hitting balls, let their attention span rule. If they become more interested in finding worms in the divots, let them explore. If they want to build a sand castle in the practice bunker, let them go at it. As long as they are safe and not interfering with other people on the range, let them have fun.
Formal instruction can start as soon as the child enters school. Once they start school then they typically have the attention span and the cognitive skills required to benefit from golf lessons. One of the focuses of initial instruction should be learning the proper grip. Learning to place the hands correctly on the golf club gives the child a huge jump on becoming a good golfer.
An important factor in giving a youngster the best chance of having some early success is for them to have properly fitting equipment. While cut down adult clubs are better than nothing, they are not the best things for kids. Cut down clubs tend to be too heavy and have poor lie angles. Today, excellent kid’s equipment is very easy to find, comes in a number of different sizes, and is very reasonably priced. Also, starting out, a junior player only needs a wood, a putter, a mid iron such as a 5 iron, and a short iron such as a 7 or 9 iron.
Finally, when you get our kids on the golf course, play as many or as few holes as the child’s attention span allows. The most important thing is for them is to have FUN! The way to get them excited and turned onto golf if to have a great time on the course. Chris’ Junior Golf Instruction Program at Cragun’s Legacy Courses starts on June 3, 2013.