Q: When to start? Ages of the junior golfers
A: This varies for many juniors and there is not one right time for every junior golfer. Most junior golf programs start taking junior golfers in clinics about the age of 8 years old. There are Pee Wee camps that will teach children ages 4-7. Some kids get it and want more, some are just not interested until later. Whatever the age, make sure the intention is not to force perfection at first. A junior’s connection and interest in the game is more important than the exact techniques involved.
A: There are some exceptional junior programs and instructors. I would like to stress learning from a PGA Class A Professional or PGA Apprentice Professional. I believe that this distinction demonstrates a very high level of commitment and you understand that they consider themselves professionals and not just a golf instructor.
Q: Does equipment matter and where do I find the right equipment?
A: Fortunately there has been unbelievable growth in junior golf equipment in the recent years. I believe getting properly sized equipment is essential to the process of exposing your juniors to the game. With very young juniors, giving them clubs that are too heavy and long will cause them to struggle making the proper swinging motion and they begin to develop compensations for the improperly fit equipment. This will potentially turn them off to the game becuase it's just too hard. Many golf courses or golf merchandise stores have a strong selection of junior golf equipment. A few examples of equipment manufacturers that I recommend are: US Kids, Acculength, La Jolla, Nike, Callaway, Tour X, Taylor Made and Lynx. A quick Internet search should yield half a dozen others.
Q: How do I keep it fun and offer the game of golf as a positive experience?
A: Remember golf is a game and it is more important for your junior to have fun at first than to do it exactly correct. Try to stay positive and supportive. Find a good teacher that makes a connection and just sit back and watch your child’s enthusiasm grow.
Q: What games can keep my child’s interest?
A: There are a number of games that can be learned and taught. The best revolve around the short game. These games emphasize scoring and touch. For instance: Around the world, horse, match play, aces, 21, up and downs, and closest to the hole. These are mainly short game focus because they are close to the green and can give the juniors a chance to learn to get the ball into the cup and score. This is the hardest area to get intermediate juniors to really practice. If you can get them hooked on working on their short game - Do It!
Q: Are there tournaments and competitions that would benefit my junior’s development?
A: Yes, there are fabulous tournament organizations out there that specifically sanction and support junior golf tournaments. First look locally in your area. Call your local golf course and see if they have any summer junior tournaments available. Or to get started, you can check these sites: USGA, US Kids, NCGA, Junior Golf Links. and the JGANC. The latter is an example of a tournament organization here in Northern California that is amazing. Depending on where you are in the country you may have something available to you that may be similar.
Q: Where are the best places to play and practice?
A: Again, call your local golf course and ask if there are junior rates, instruction and special times that are best for junior participation. There are driving ranges and practice centers that may have special shorter courses and par three courses that would be perfect for younger players development.
Q: Parents don’t play and their children express interest but how can they help their children’s progress and not interfere?
A: Go see your local PGA Professional and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to not know anything. As a PGA Professional it's what we're there for. We are committed to growing the game and helping you understand what is out there for your child. This website is an example of that commitment. If you are interested in golf then golf wants you. Invest in some decent instruction and some appropriate equipment and let your child learn to develop their safe enjoyment of the game.
Q: What about Rules, Etiquette and Safety?
A: I cannot emphasize this enough how important proper safety, behavior and understanding of the rules play an important part of your child’s learning the game.
Q: We are searching for high schools and colleges for my advanced competitive junior golfer. Where should we look and how do we go about the process?
A: First let me say you are not alone. This is a very interesting, individual and important issue. High schools are a little easier because they may be the only choices where you are bound by your location. You can however inquire between choice high schools and ask about their golf programs. If one school offers a program and the others don’t, that may have made up your mind. If they all offer golf programs and one is more successful than the others than that may be a fit for you. I am not emphasizing that you only go to the school with the best program, but it can be important for your child’s development. If they become part of a program that gets them into bigger post season competition more than the others, let’s face it that is more exposure and experience and that does potentially matter.
Colleges are another situation all together. The earlier you can get on the radar of the programs and the schools that you may want to attend the better. Email the coaches of the programs you wish to look into. Use the internet to look up information about the school’s athletic directories and get a contact number and name of the coach. Remember as hard as you’ve worked on the golf, now it’s about selling the product and you have to be as passionate and dedicated to getting your child out there. Many coaches when they are recruiting players want to see that the players have autonomy from their parents so don’t do this all for your junior. I don’t mean for you to wait for them to do this on their own either but groom them on how to interview and conduct themselves in front of a prospective boss/coach. Make them become part of this process. I hope that you work as a team and move them more towards independence and self-confidence.