Every golfer starts somewhere. How can your budding Rory McIlroy or Annika Sorenstam hone their game? Get them started the right way with these 7 top golf tips for junior golfers:
#1 Have fun
Cheesy and clichéd, perhaps, but this is the golden rule of kids golf. It’s only a game. If they’re not having fun then they should go play something else.
#2 Make their own decisions
Good coaching is all about mastering the balance between giving great advice and letting them to do their own thing. Golf is all about decision making, so show them how to read situations but trust them to make the right call for them. They’ll discover the best solutions along the way – and have more fun while they’re at it.
#3 Develop a comfortable grip
A solid grip is key to good golfing technique. Try to ensure that their hands are close together, with all of their fingers are in contact with the club for optimum control.
However, it’s important to remember that at an early stage a conventional grip isn’t essential. If they’re hitting it well and showing a good eye, that’s perfect. As #2 specifies, good coaching is all about letting them make their own decisions – and mistakes.
#4 Start with your short game
Not everyone can hit a ball 300 yards, but everyone can putt. That’s why it’s great to get youngsters adept around the greens. After all, the majority of shots are played with a putter. If you can master your short game you’ll go far.
#5 Roll the putt, don’t hit it
Putting is all about coaxing the ball towards the final goal. If you hit it, the ball will roll too far. So teach your protégé to keep the putter head as close to the floor as possible and roll the ball before the putter comes back up so to avoid hopping.
#6 Practice, practice, practice
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell developed a concept back in 1993 called the 10,000 hours rule. Its basic premise was that to become an expert in a specific field, you have to spend at least 10,000 hours of your life practicing it. That’s 417 days of non-stop practice and nearly 14 months.
He identified people such as Bill Gates, The Beatles and Tiger Woods who put the hours in before becoming universally acknowledged as the best in their field. This rule has been proven particularly true in golf, where American Dan McLaughlin quit his job having never hit a ball in his life to test the concept. Halfway through, Dan has a handicap of four.
Of course, unless you’re the pushiest parent ever (and we’ve outlawed that on point 2), 10,000 hours is near enough unfeasible. That means that if your son or daughter starts playing aged 8 they’d have to play four hours every weekday until they were 18 to reach the mark. But it does highlight how essential practice is.
Does your child want to improve? There’s only one place to do it – out on the fairways and greens.
#7 Maintain your etiquette
Golf is, of course, a game of etiquette. If you can teach your protégé the importance of fair play and sportsmanship, they’ll have a greater respect for others and be more likely to love the game in the long term.