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Junior Golf 101: Teaching the game

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By The Staff

How did you learn to play the game of golf? When asked this question, most people say that their introduction didn't come until they were young adults, and many wish the opportunity had been available to them at an earlier age.

Yet, just being exposed the game will not allow for learning it, but the memories that accompany a child's development as a golfer are the ones that will act as bookmarks in their future golf game. Whether it was their first trip to the course with a parent, their first success hitting over the water, or even the maybe riding in the golf cart; all of these experiences play a role in bringing them to the game.

With that in mind, one may believe that how well we performed is what we remember most from our individual learning process, but more importantly is how we were introduced that leaves the lasting impressions.

During this current season I have had the opportunity to work directly with over 125 new junior golfers, and there are a few important things I always keep in mind. Mainly, they are all separate individuals, but for the most part each of them share the same instinctual habits.

It never seems to fail that a young person, no matter how new to the game of golf, has one thing and one thing only on their mind....they want to hit the ball as hard and far as they can! So, what is the best course of action to complement this instinct and bring control to a freshly developing golf game? With this question in mind, I would like to share with you some thoughts on making the process easier on both you and your junior golfer.

Make it exciting. Learning the game should be fun, and some simple, creative contests can really add life to an introduction or practice session. Anything to drive the young golfer's focus and spur their competitive spirit should create an exciting atmosphere for learning.

Keep it simple. Don't give too much information at once. Success will not come overnight, so start with contact as the basic principle. As good, consistent contact has been established, the other fundamentals can start being introduced. So, don't try and create a prodigy in one practice session, as they are going to hit the ball less than perfect until they have time to process a combination of positive golf experiences.

Let them swing. In the beginning just let the junior "give it a rip." Their grip won't be perfect, they will probably miss the ball a few times, and they definitely won't have a "picture perfect" swing. Let them watch you, and once they witness someone else successfully making swings they may be more open to your instruction.

Leave them alone. After some time working with the junior, leave them be to work things out on their own. Once the junior knows what they should be working on and what goal they should be working towards, just let them work through it alone. During most all of my junior lessons, I always leave the student alone for approximately five minutes before returning to finish the session, as I believe this time is needed for digestion of the work that has been covered.

Encourage practice. Goals should be established, but more importantly the preparation for these events should be encouraged. Golf is a game of dedication and discipline, and encouraging these traits can be completely worthwhile when working to accomplish any defined goals.

In my view, golf is probably one of the most pure sports that one can play, especially as a child. Not only is it just you against the course, but in this game one shares alone both victories and defeats. For the parents and grandparents who are sharing this great game with their children, I wish you the best and may patience be on your side. Your time invested will be time well-spent when you realize you have created a new lifelong golf partner!

See You On The Back Nine!