We are all just a bunch of big kids!
Over the past decade the Junior Golf Industry has become big business. Numerous Junior-only equipment, training aid, and apparel companies have sprung up, not to mention the countless number of junior tours and college recruiting/resume services that have come along. Undoubtedly, there is ample opportunity for junior golfers, starting even as early as a few years old, to develop their game and have numerous opportunities for playing both recreationally and competitively. With so much out there to choose from, where should a parent start in planning the roadmap for their junior golfer’s development? No need to worry, I'm here to help.
First and foremost teach your kids that golf is a game and it is supposed to be fun. I think as all of us get older we forget what brought us to the game. Was it beating our friends, posting our best rounds, or playing an elite country club? No, it was hitting that ball in the sweet spot of the club, curving the ball for the first time, or making our first par. It was about the first moments of fun with a golf ball.
Next, show your child the importance of integrity and honor. This is the only game where you can call a penalty on yourself! That is a hard pill to swallow sometimes and we need to be ambassadors for the youth coming into this game to show them what it is all about. The next thing to teach is that this game takes a long time to learn and is never mastered. It takes many hours on and off the course to begin to understand how to play the game. Often when people are introduced to a new game they want to be very good at it very fast. That is not a realistic view for the game of golf.
After you have worked through these steps you will need to find an instructor to give your child the basic fundamentals. These will stick with them for the rest of their life and is the very foundation of their future talent.
If your junior golfer turns out to become a good golfer you need to remember to be realistic in your potential expectations for them. The quantity of quality junior golfers today is great, and in reality there are only a handful of college scholarships available for the vast number of juniors out there. If your son or daughter can make the cut on the course, make sure what they do off the course is equally as impressive. Make sure that they are true student-athletes and that their grades are up to par. Also make sure that they are well rounded and are active in extracurricular activities away from the course. This will make all the difference. From a competitive playing stand point, make sure your child plays in as many quality and high profile events as possible. Log onto the American Junior Golf Association website and the National Junior Golf Scoreboard site for more information on playing opportunities. If your son or daughter indeed has what it takes to play at the college level then you should consider using one of the several golf scholarship and resume writing services out there.
I believe all kids should be introduced to golf at some point. It can be a game that has the potential to mold so many great qualities about their life. They will learn to be respectful, honorable, fair, competitive and learn to have fun while accepting defeat. I for one can not wait for my children to give golf a try and I look forward to the day when they take me out to the golf course and beat dear old dad. Well….maybe not, but they can come close.
Keep it in the fairways!
Adam H. Bowles, PGA
Golf Operations Manager