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Explore Minnesota Golf Association

Getting Your Kid to Play Golf

Engage your kids in golf

You’ve heard the line before – golf is a game for life. Yes, it’s a popular phrase tossed around by golfers, but it’s also true. It’s a game that you can play from 2-years old to 102-years old. The trick is getting your kid to play golf and encouraging them to continue on through the years. As a parent that plays golf, you understand that the golf swing is much more complex than it appears. Understanding the rules of the game can take a lifetime to learn and learning how to make consistent contact can be equal parts frustrating and elating. Our challenge as parents is to let our kids have fun and not inundate them with data, tips, rules and advice. Glenn Hagberg, Head PGA professional at Madden’s on Gull Lake has seen his share of juniors and he offers this advice to parents:

boy and girl carrying golf bags

“Always stay positive. It’s a game, so have fun. Resist the urge to provide instruction to your young golfer. Kids are smart. If they hit the ball right or left, they will figure out how to correct it on their own.”

This is not to say that Glenn believes kids don’t need instruction. Rather, he’s saying to give your kids room to learn. Too often parents will chase kids from a sport with too much instruction.

Here are a couple other ways to make golf fun and keep kids engaged:

The dollar bill game

Take a dollar bill and put it on the green. Go ahead and take a tee and sink it through the bill and into the turf so the bill stays still. Then have your child try to putt to the bill from 10-feet. If the ball stops on the dollar bill, give the kid the dollar. You’ll see goal setting in your child that you may have never seen before!

2 x 2 x 20

Brad Pluth, PGA Professional and Director of Instruction at Halla Greens in Chanhassen, MN has a drill that he calls the 2 x 2 x 20. It goes like this: no more than 2 tips for your junior at a time and you change your coaching tip every 10 minutes and no more than 2 times in 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, you change your location because often kids get bored beyond 20 minutes.

Take Mulligans!

Let the kids take mulligans. Remember, they’re kids and chances are the USGA rules officials aren’t going to come barreling out of the woods and call a rules violation on your child. Don’t limit it to one mulligan, let them load and re-load. As long as you’re not slowing the pace of play, let your child understand success on the course.

Define success that has nothing to do with score

In golf, we get so attached to our score, we forget other measures of success on the course. When we pass this on to our kids it can deter them from the game because they don’t realize “success” as you’ve defined it for them. Perhaps success is defined by the number of solid shots your child makes. For example, set a goal with your son or daughter and say, today, let’s go make 5 great shots. When they reach 5 great shots, celebrate with them and help them understand how wonderful that accomplishment is. Or maybe success is breaking tees with their irons after they make a swing. Whatever, be careful to not attache success to score only.

Leave when they’re having fun

This may seem counter-intuitive, but there’s a story about Hall of Fame tennis player, Jimmy Connors, whose mother allegedly pulled him off the tennis court right when he was enjoying practice the most. The apparent reasoning is that this would make him want to practice more. There’s some twisted logic to this that becomes apparent when you consider many parents push their kids over the edge when it comes to practicing or playing. Try this out and see how your kids react.

Take a cart

If you have the means to use a golf cart while teaching your youngster to play golf, do it. This accomplishes a couple things – it’s always fun to drive the buggy around the course and it’s less tiring for little people. It is also extremely useful when your child loses interest on the third hole and you need to make a quick exit off the course.

If you have kids to whom you’ve tried to introduce the game of golf, you may have your own set of tips. What works for you? How do you encourage your kids to continue to play golf?

Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to raise awareness of Minnesota golf courses and resorts as international travel destinations. Our member facilities feature award-winning, championship golf courses and are geographically disbursed across the great state of Minnesota. The combination of exceptional quality and outstanding value make Minnesota one of the best golf destinations in the United States.

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