kids starting golf

Tips for Introducing Your Child to Golf

As a self-proclaimed Golf Mom, I am often asked by fellow parents, “how do I introduce my child to golf?” I will not take all the credit, as my husband has been playing golf since he could walk, and statistically, most children who start playing golf have a parent or family member who also plays. However, I am happy to say, the paradigm of youth golf is shifting and more children are starting to play golf whose family members may not play themselves. Over the past 3 years, junior golf has seen the highest jump in golf history with 36% more junior on-course participation! Junior golf is definitely having a moment and we are here for it!

Golf is a wonderful game for kids and something that they can learn and play for a lifetime! I cannot say the same for many other sports, and that’s not to say that your kids should stop playing them and only focus on golf. I will just say as a golf mom (…and football and basketball and soccer mom) that I truly love the game of golf for kids. It has taught my boys respect, dedication, good manners, social maturity, and above all else, self-confidence at very young ages. Which brings me to my next topic, what age should my child start playing golf?

This is entirely up to your child and their own interest. Of course, many kids love getting a club in their hands and giving the club a good swing, but you don’t want to start anything serious, like private golf lessons, too soon that they lose interest. My recommendation is to start with a one-week summer golf camp if your local community golf courses offer these. Most camps will start as young as age 4 and go up to 14 years old. They are usually very game oriented to keep it fun and teach golf fundamentals. Your kids will also make friends and have some positive, memorable experiences for their first introduction to the course.

If you think your child’s interest in golf has already been captured, you may want to start with a junior program. There are several nationwide programs that offer beginner golf lessons in your state. Here are a few that I would recommend:

Op36 Programs

Led by golf professionals throughout the country, the Operation 36 curriculum is a great first step for your child to learn the game of golf. Golf fundamentals and technical skills are learned in a fun environment with friends. They even offer an app with training tools and ways for parents and coaches to track your child’s progress. You also have the option to participate in 9-hole tournaments. The tournaments are my favorite part because the program really focuses on mastering your short game first. Instead of starting at the tee box, your player will play 9 holes starting 25 yards out from the green. Each time you shoot a 36 (par) or better, you will go onto the next division and start a little further back from the green. They also offer this program for adults, so you can make it a family affair! We love our local program through Players Golf Academy here in Charleston, SC!

PGA Junior League

If your child loves a team sport environment, then the PGA Junior League could be a perfect fit. Games are played in a scramble format with two to three person teams, which allows players to focus more on performance and takes the pressure off individual scores. The program takes players of all ages (typically starting at age 4 or 5 depending on program location) and skill levels.

First Tee

First Tee not only focuses on teaching your kids golf, but also the character building that comes with it! These programs start at age 7 to 18 years old and have 150 chapters around the world. I love the goal setting, team building, and finding self-identity that is built into this program for our little future leaders. They have programs that are affiliated with schools and provide lots of resources and even equipment to get kids started on their golf journey.

US Kids Golf

US Kids Golf is also a great program to introduce your child to tournaments. They have many local tours where you can sign up for any number of tournaments for that season. Parents are usually the child’s caddy, and it’s where I learned a lot about golf myself as a “mommy caddy.” My kids have so much fun win or lose, and they have a medal ceremony at each tournament for up to 5th place. If you play yourself, they have parent/child tournaments throughout the year as well. We love our program here in Charleston, SC and grow from our experiences each season!

If you are not ready to spend the money or commit the time to a full program, get to your local range and start chipping and putting on the practice green. I would also join them, even if you don’t play! This can be a fun bonding experience with your child and a great outdoors activity. It will also give you a good idea if your child is interested in the sport. While you’re at the range, be sure to chat with your local golf pros who are also great resources and may have more ideas about junior programs in your area.

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