Sport offers a wonderful opportunity for parents to introduce their kids to the lives challenges they face ahead. Whether it’s basketball, soccer, baseball, or tennis, sport teaches children valuable life lessons.
In recent years, one sport that has seen a massive boom in popularity among juniors is golf; Yep, that’s right, golf. Parents understand that out of the hundreds of sports and activities to choose from, golf is probably the only sport you can play your entire life. Tennis might be the only other sport with similar characteristics. However, tennis is much tougher on the body as you age.
Golf inspires children to get out and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer. It teaches them etiquette, responsibility, honesty, determination, and patience. It provides them with the groundwork to understand the critical role hard work plays in success.
For these reasons and others, I will outline, later, parents are enrolling their children in golf schools, academies, and clubs in record numbers. National Governing Bodies and clubs have combined their efforts for years now, aiming to get more children involved in the game; it seems to be paying off.
Golf schools and academies offer kids classes for children as young as three. Children are much more open to new ideas and have an adventurous mindset at this young age. These classes provide the perfect opportunity for children to develop motor skills while learning the importance of interacting respectfully with others.
As a matter of fact, manufacturers have designed clubs for children as young as 18 months. However, at 18 months, I think you’re technically still a baby. Understanding that children have short attention spans makes it imperative for parents and coaches alike to keep practice sessions short and enjoyable.
Another benefit parents value is that golf is a non-contact sport. Although I was rushed to hospital in my teens after being hit in the head with a golf ball; I still have the scar to show for it.
Getting your children started in golf can be a daunting task for parents, particularly those who don’t play the game; knowing where to start can be a nightmare. As a parent and coach, this junior golfing guide aims to provide information on everything from how to get started, equipment you’ll need, costs, clothing, bags and even tournament play.
Let’s get started!
What Equipment do Kids Need?
Golf has a reputation for being a sport for the wealthy and elite, but nothing could be further from the truth in recent years. While some country club memberships are still out of reach for the average person, the vast majority of clubs have drastically reduced the overall costs involved with playing golf.
Some of the equipment you’ll need to purchase:
- Golf clubs
- Golf bag, albeit a tiny one
- Golf shoes and
- Golf attire
But first, let’s take a look at the different factors you need to consider, before purchasing a set of junior golf clubs.
Buying a Set of Kids Golf Clubs
The first important point to recognize is that although a full set consists of 13 or 14 clubs, children need no more than a half set to get started.
You can purchase junior sets online, but do your local pro shop a favor and purchase your kid’s clubs locally. Another excellent alternative to buying a complete set of clubs is to buy individual clubs as needed. By doing it this way, you keep costs to a minimum, especially while you’re waiting to see if your kids catch the golfing bug.
There’s no steadfast rule when it comes to the first club you should consider purchasing, but in my experience, opting for a putter makes the most sense.
Putting is arguably the most challenging part of the game, so beginning early gives your child a head start. Putting also requires minimal physical exertion, so kids are less likely to get injured. Finally, there’s something magical about seeing your child sink a put. Hearing the ball rattle around the bottom of the cup puts an unforgettable smile on their face.
After they’ve become accustomed to the putter, seek the guidance of a PGA professional who can help advise on which clubs will be most suitable to purchase next. They’ll likely recommend higher lofted clubs like a 9 iron, which is easier for kids to hit. Next up will be lower lofted clubs like 3 and 5 irons before progressing to fairway woods and the driver.
Factors to Consider when Buying Junior Clubs
The most noticeable factor to consider straight off the bat is your child’s size. Junior golf sets come in various shapes, sizes, weights, and lengths, so getting your child fitted correctly will set them up for future fun and success.
Two typical problems parents face when buying a set of clubs.
- More often than not, parents purchase golf clubs that are far too heavy for their children. Heavy clubs are not only tough to swing correctly but can cause long-term injury to your child. Again, if you’re unsure, consult with your local golf shop or pro.
- Purchasing junior clubs that are too long is another common mistake parents make. Although longer clubs probably won’t cause injury, they will make it difficult for your child to develop good swing mechanics.
It’s important to remember that golf is a highly technical game. ensuring your child has the right size clubs is crucial to their success and enjoyment of the game
Expert Tip: Unlike a bike where you might buy a size bigger for them to grow into, the same must be avoided when purchasing junior golf clubs. As such, buying shorter and lighter clubs is preferred, even if it means upgrading regularly. The last thing you want is your child getting injured using the wrong size clubs.
Buying a Junior Golf Bag
I would argue a golf bag is the most crucial piece of equipment you’ll buy because without it, your kids will be lugging around 7 or 8 clubs in their hands, and they won’t be happy chappy’s.
However, a golf bag does a lot more than just carrying your clubs. At the top of your golf bag, you’ll find a set of felt dividers that are designed to separate your clubs and keep them from becoming damaged. Some bags have partial dividers, while others have dividers that run the length of the bag.
Finding a junior golf bag is a relatively straightforward process. As with your clubs, it’s just a matter of taking your time and doing some research before purchasing. If possible, take one of your child’s clubs with you; this way, you can make sure the bag is the ideal size.
Finally, let your kids get involved in the process; Ask them which bag they like? Is there a specific color or design they like? Maybe they want a particular brand like one of their friends. The more interactive you can make the process, the more likely they will enjoy it.
Push Carts for Juniors
Investing in a high-quality pushcart or “buggy,” depending on where you come from, is highly recommended. Golf clubs and bags are pretty heavy and probably a bit dangerous for children to carry around for long periods.
Stand bags are popular with teenagers who like to carry their bags, but I’d suggest purchasing a pushcart for kids ten and under.
Being out in the elements means you’ll need to carry other things such as food, drink, waterproof jackets, hats, and gloves. These extras make the golf bag tough to carry around, which is why I suggest investing in a buggy.
A buggy will also help mitigate injury. Remember, your child is still growing, so any extra help they can get to ease the stress on their joints is crucial.
Golf Clothing for Juniors
Clothing and, more importantly, appropriate clothing plays several critical roles in your child’s golfing journey. Most golf courses have pretty relaxed dress codes, but at a minimum, your child will need to wear a collared shirt, nice dress shorts, a skirt or pants, and proper footwear like a pair of golf shoes.
Apart from looking stylish and feeling good about themselves, clothing keeps them warm, dry, or cool, depending on the playing conditions. Investing in a wardrobe covering all seasons will keep your child comfortable while out on the course.
Wind jackets are also recommended, along with waterproof clothing and, of course, a couple of hats, to protect them from the sun.
Golf Shoes for Juniors
Playing a round of golf can last between 3-5 hours, and your child might walk close to 5-7 km depending on what tees they’re playing from.
Investing in a good pair of good shoes will keep their feet comfortable and, more importantly, stop them from slipping while playing. Golf shoes have spikes or cleats made from durable plastic that helps players with traction and balance.
Golf shoes also come with rubber studded soles that help with traction. These would be the preferred model for children as they’re more comfortable and have a similar feel to a sneaker.
If possible, I would suggest buying a couple of pairs that are suitable for different conditions. For example, a waterproof pair for the winter months and a lighter pair made from nylon or polyester for the warmer summer months would be ideal.
Introduction to Junior Play
If you’ve played golf before then, you’re aware of the different colored markers players tee off from.
If you’re not familiar with these markers, here they are:
- Black tees are the furthest back and used by professionals
- Blue tees are next up and played by pros and top amateurs
- White tees are typically played by mid to high handicappers
- Red tees are designated specifically for women
- Green tees are played by junior, senior, and beginner golfers
You can also make your own calculations to help your child reach the green in the appropriate amount of shots required. Let’s say your child can hit an eight iron roughly 100 yards; in this instance, the different holes might look like this:
Example yardage for juniors:
- A par 3 would measure 100 yards
- A par 4, you can double it to 200 yards and
- A par 5 would measure 300 yards
By experimenting and having some fun with the yardages, you can make the game much more enjoyable. You might even think about making a particular par 5 shorter, giving your child the chance to reach in two and put for eagle. Now wouldn’t that make their day?
Let Kids be Kids
As a parent or a coach, understanding and learning how to manage your own expectations can be difficult. However, it’s critical you don’t let your own opinions and emotions interrupt or hinder your child’s golfing progress.
If you’re a parent with a low handicap, then controlling your emotions is particularly important. This is because you’re more likely to have your own beliefs about how certain shots should be played.
At times during the swing, you’ll see your child’s feet not aligned correctly or their hands gripped in the wrong position, but let it go. I’m not saying don’t make corrections to their swing; I’m saying choose your timing carefully. Kids will be kids; let them have some fun.
Even if you are a good player or maybe even a professional golfer yourself, finding a coach for your child’s golf development is highly recommended. The last thing you want is golf turning into a feud every time you tee it up. After all, the family should always be the number one priority.
The 18th Hole
Golf is a wonderful way to introduce your child to life’s harsh lessons. It teaches patience, focus, concentration, etiquette, and the importance of hard work.
Your child will learn to take full responsibility for their game and actions. They’ll meet friends for life, experience the joys and heartbreaks of competition, and learn to appreciate the great outdoors.
Remember, though, kids are only kids once, so give them some space, let them do it their way, and most importantly, let them enjoy it.