*As part of #FallForeGolf, each week in October Tiffany Faucette -- lead instructor at BCG-managed 1757 Golf Club -- will be guest blogging on the Billy Casper Digital Network. Check back each Tuesday for a new post from the nationally-acclaimed teacher and keep reading for this week's post! Fun Fact: The image accompanying this post was submitted by Falmouth Country Club General Manager Matthew Burgess as a part of #FallForeGolf.*
Introducing your child to golf can be the gift of a lifetime! Golf is the perfect game: a sport that connects players with family, friends and nature, while also developing discipline, concentration and integrity.
Still, a child’s first visit to the golf course isn’t always a success. It’s stressful for many parents to show and model where to stand for safety, how to behave and to speak softly. Then, once the child has had his or her fill of rules, you’re trying to teach them how to grip the club and make the swing motion. Whew! At this point, maybe you’re both trying to figure out how anyone thinks this game is fun.
The fact is, kids pick up on adults’ stress. And if the child is stressed, they will find it really hard to find enjoyment in the new and unfamiliar world of golf. That’s why it’s so important to start the process of introducing children to golf mindfully so your quest doesn’t end before it even begins. Here are a few tips to help you both avoid the “rough” and find the beauty and fun of the game … together.
1.) Remember the aspects of golf that make you happy. These things probably aren’t the shushing of chatter on the green, or the risk of being hit by a club or ball. Share with them how happy it makes you when you hit that “perfect” shot. Or how you love the beauty of the golf course and seeing footsteps in the dew first thing in the morning. How you love meeting your friends and having putting contests on the green. Tell your child that the golf course is your playground and you would like them to play with you. Frame golf and your feedback to your child in a fun and inviting way and they will want to go to your “playground.”
2.) Begin the game at home. Do you swing a golf club at home? If so, your kids would probably love to mimic what you are doing. The next time you’re practicing your swing or putting stroke, invite them to take a turn. They may feel more comfortable getting a feel for the equipment in a familiar setting, so when you get to the driving range or course, there can be less of an emphasis on form and more on the total experience. This is also a great opportunity to introduce proper golf etiquette and safety, so it isn’t as much of a culture shock when you’re at the course.
(Note: It’s also so important to start your kids off with a club that truly fits. If they’re using a club meant for a bigger person, it will make it hard for them to assume the correct posture and manage the club’s weight. Invest in a few starter clubs for kids based on height, such as U.S. Kids Golf clubs. In general, it’s better for a club to be a little too short than much too long!)
3.) Try a cool tool! It’s one thing to make air swings, and entirely another to make full impact swings. The Impact Improver® lets you and your kids practice and refine your swing anywhere – even indoors! Just fit the “strike shield” over an iron club (PW-5iron), and in seconds you’re ready to swing at a soft-impact ball that sticks at the point of contact. There’s no need to set up nets or worry about breaking stuff with projectiles, with the Impact Improver anyone can experience the feeling of an effective hit with immediate feedback.
The Impact Improver’s strike shield fits both adult and junior clubs, so it’s the perfect tool for parents and kids to use together at home. Remember, young minds are incredibly receptive to visual and active learning; all the golf talk in the world won’t show them how they’re hitting, but the Impact Improver does just that, with every single swing. In fact, the only way the Impact Improver soft ball won’t stick is if the player pulling up through impact, with the sole of the club hitting the ball, since they’re no sticky stuff on the sole of the club. That’s a learning moment in itself – and nothing will get them more motivated to start aiming for better hits!
4.) Emphasize contact, not distance. It’s too easy for novice golfers to judge the quality of hit based solely on how far the ball flies. The Impact Improver makes the goal about center contact, not distance, and when the goal is contact, kids tend to swing more in balance and with better tempo. Without ball flight, the focus becomes the sweet spot, which truly creates the longest shots. Another benefit of the Impact Improver: the ball is much lighter than a real golf ball. Your child can go through the impact area to their finish with more speed without being interrupted by the desire to lift the ball to the air.
There’s nothing quite like watching a child light up after hitting a golf ball. Now, with these tips and the Impact Improver, you can start that process at home … and, with any luck, witness your child fall in love with golf – for life!