Teaching juniors this great game of golf is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I get to do as a PGA Pro. The most important thing to remember is that golf is a game, so I try to keep it FUN! I like to mix things up during a junior lesson. Doing something fun really keeps a young golfer's attention. I will put a junior 10-15 yards away from a tree and tell them to hit the ball into the trunk of the tree. I love to watch their face when the ball hits the tree, they get so excited! I have them place a golf ball on the green and then step 20 feet away and have them try to roll a golf ball into the first ball. Games like this teach aim and the ability to make solid contact in a fun way.
START WITH SMALL SHOTS - The best way to teach a child golf is to start with putting and chipping. This way, they have immediate success. Watching a putt go into the hole or hitting a chip shot up close to the pin gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. Once they have a feel for the short shots we move to the full swing. It's important not to be too technical at first. On the other hand, there are important things to learn so they can hit strong shots. I can help them improve their technique by using simple phrases like, "let me tell you a little secret" or "I'm going to show you a trick to make the ball go farther!" This way, instruction is given in a fun and effective way.
PROPER EQUIPMENT - Many parents will chop off a few inches from their old 7 iron and hand it to their child. Cutting down adult clubs for juniors is a common mistake. The more the cut down a club, the stiffer you make the shaft, and adult clubs are too heavy for a junior. Stiff, heavy clubs make the game more difficult.
LIFE LESSONS THAT CAN BE LEARNED FROM GOLF -
1 - HUMILITY AND RESPECT - Golf requires that you show courtesy to others and that you show your fellow golfers respect. Kids learn that good sportsmanship needs to be exhibited at all times and that the game ends with a handshake.
2 - PUNCTUALITY - As we all know, golf operates on a very stringent time schedule. If you show up at 9:02 for a 9:00 tee time, you just lost your tee time. In a tournament, being late means automatic disqualification. These can be a tough lessons to learn, but they are lessons you will remember. This is something that can help any junior in all aspects of their life.
3 - PROBLEM SOLVING - Golfing your ball around the course is a new adventure every time out. To this day, I still face shots I've never had to hit before. This part of the game can be an amazing opportunity for clever problem solving and personal growth.
4 - FOCUS - Golf is a difficult game. Improvement takes concentration and the ability to focus on whatever you are trying to accomplish. I teach my juniors to focus on the process, not the results.
We always have a lot of fun during a junior lesson but I take my time with juniors very seriously. Teaching a young boy or girl this great game of golf can be something they enjoy and learn from for the rest of their lives.