Getting young golfers into the game

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Parker Leonard works on his game Saturday at Evans Barnes Golf Course.

Parker Leonard works on his game Saturday at Evans Barnes Golf Course.

Golf is a game of skill that can take years, if not decades, to master. Many golfers find their time on the golf course both rewarding and relaxing, even on those days when the fairways seem impossible to find.

Though many players never swing a golf club until they reach adulthood, it’s never too early to hit the links. Some of the world’s most accomplished golfers, including four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods, began playing as toddlers, and many feel that getting an early start can lead to a more successful game down the road.

Getting kids into golf is a great way for parents to bond with their children while enjoying the great outdoors. Golf can also be used to teach kids humility, sportsmanship and the importance of hard work. Thanks to the often frustrating nature of golf, parents may find it somewhat challenging to instill a love of the game in their youngsters. But there are ways to introduce kids to this wonderful game that kids might just play for the rest of their lives.

Focus on having fun. Few, if any, golfers at your local golf course on a given weekend could say with certainty that golf has never frustrated them. The challenge of golf may be its most appealing characteristic to older players, but young kids can be easily overwhelmed by the challenges golf presents. By focusing on having fun instead of perfecting techniques, parents can get kids to look forward to their time on the links. The more fun kids have, the more likely they will be to embrace the game and its many challenges. Don’t put pressure on youngsters as they develop their games, but encourage them through their struggles and reassure them that you faced the same obstacles when you started playing.

Hire an instructor with experience teaching children. Instructors with experience teaching children will understand the basics of the game and how learning those basics provides a great foundation for future enjoyment and success on the course. Instructors who have taught kids in the past also know that teaching youngsters the finer points of golf requires patience and encouragement. Ask a fellow parent or an employee at the club where you play to recommend an instructor for your child. And take advantage of any kids’ courses your club offers.

Purchase the correct equipment. Even the best golfers are bound to struggle when using the wrong equipment. While it might be unwise to invest in especially expensive equipment for youngsters likely to grow out of it in a few months’ time, deals can be found on used kids’ equipment. Used kids’ equipment is typically subjected to less wear and tear than used equipment for adults, as kids tend to play less often and fewer holes than adults when they do play. But make sure to find correctly sized equipment that kids feel comfortable using.

Play some holes. Instructors may teach kids the differences between the types of clubs and how to swing and putt. But golf is most fun when players are out on the links going from hole to hole.

Golf camp at Evans Barnes will begin June 1 and last until July 27 for children ages 10-14. Registration is available at Johnson Park. There is a $35 registration and scholarships are available based on financial need.