So you love golf, and you want to teach your kids, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Don’t worry, we have everything you need to know right here.
Luckily there is a plethora of great information that you can get online that will help kids learn some of the necessary skills that are important in golf. We have gone through most of it and have picked out all the information you need to know to get started. We have found the best golf-related children’s books, DVDs, and some free online videos that you will be able to use to get your kids golfing in no time. Before you know it, they will love golf just as much as you do!
Why Teach Your Kids Golf?
Short answer: because it is awesome. Long answer: golf is an excellent game for people of all sizes and abilities, you can play it your whole life, you have a great excuse to be outside in nature, you get exercise, and it is a lot of fun.
Golf can be kind of an intimidating sport to teach a child. Parents might worry that they are going to introduce an incorrect technique and mess up their child’s golf game for life. People love to freak parents out by telling them this, but if you are just trying to get your kids interested in golf, you don’t need to worry. The most important thing when parents are introducing a new sport to kids is that they make it fun, so kids want to do it and learn more.
When Should Kids Start?
There is golf equipment available for kids who can barely walk, but the prevailing wisdom is that you should only start teaching them golf when they show an interest in learning it. So it depends on the child, they could be two years old or ten years old, if they want to learn then that is the time to start teaching them.
If your child isn’t showing any interest in golf and it is breaking your heart, you can try to spark an interest by letting young kids ride along in a golf cart with you while you play. You could also show your kids how much fun it is to whack a ball around in the backyard or a basement, let them play golf-related video games or apps, or just read them some golf-related books (see below for a list of recommended books).
Before You Start
Depending on their age and what they already know, you will want to give your kids a general idea of the game. Some of the things that you can go over that might seem obvious to you, but are probably confusing to a child are:
- How is golf played? Explain that golf is played on a golf course that is divided into nine or eighteen different areas called holes. A round begins on the teeing ground of the first hole.
- How does the scoring work? Tell them that each time you hit the ball with your club, you count one stroke.
- What is the point of the game? Explain that at the end of each hole is the green where there is a small hole and that the whole idea of the game is to get your ball into that hole on the green with as few strokes as possible.
- Explain some of the terminology (e.g., fairway, rough, bunkers, types of golf holes(par 3,4, or 5).
- What are there different clubs for? Go over why you use various clubs, which clubs are used when etc.
Before starting, it’s also essential you get the right equipment to make the game more enjoyable for your kids. There are lots of options for children’s golf clubs, depending on what fits your budget. Some good places to look for kid’s golf equipment are U.S. Kids Golf or TheLittlestGolfer.
For younger kids, you must get a small, light bag with a comfortable shoulder strap. You will want to make sure kids can carry their clubs, or it won’t be fun for anyone.
Since most golf courses have a dress code, you should also let your kids know that they will need to wear a shirt that has a collar, pants or shorts that aren’t too short, socks and shoes.
You don’t need to get too fancy when explaining golf etiquette to kids. They need to know that they have to respect other players by and respect the course by doing things like:
- Not talking when other players are hitting the ball.
- Not to take their practice swings near other people.
- They should be ready when it is their turn to swing to avoid causing a delay for other players who are behind you.
- They should leave the course in the same way that they found it.
- They should try to avoid causing damage to the course.
Simple Rules Kids Should Know
Golf has many rules that might be a little overwhelming for a child, so when they are just beginning to learn the game, you will probably want to introduce the rules slowly. It’s not always necessary to keep score, but you can show kids how scoring in golf works so they can start to get the idea. Some basic rules they should know:
- Play the ball as it lies – this is a crucial rule in golf.
- The player farthest from the hole putts first when you are on the green. If there is a chance their ball might hit another player’s ball, show them how to mark the ball.
- You can also show them how to pull the flagstick out before the ball goes into the hole to avoid a penalty.
- Apart from a few exceptions, moving or interfering with the ball is something they shouldn’t do.
The Basic Skills
When you are ready to start, there are six essential skills that you will want to cover:
- The Full Swing
Start with the easy stuff first, learning the proper grip is fundamental skills that kids need to master before they can develop a great golf swing. Most people recommend the ten-finger grip (also called the baseball grip) for kids.
Check out this video on how to teach kids the proper grip
If your alignment is off, then the shot will be off-target, so it’s essential to spend a bit of time trying to get this right. To get appropriately aligned, imagine a straight line going from the ball to your target. You then need to align your feet, so they are parallel with the target line. Lots of golf instructors use the analogy of a train track when trying to explain this. So basically, you tell the kids to imagine they are shooting the ball down a train track where the child is standing on the inner rail, and the ball is on the outer rail, which runs to the target. There is a good picture of it in Golf Digest.
Check out this video that has another approach to teach kids alignment:
Posture is another crucial thing to try to get right before your kids take a shot. Some things to keep in mind about posture are your child should stand straight with the club extended out in front of him or her at waist height. Then they can bend forward at the waist until the club hits the ground, and their knees are slightly flexed. They should try to keep their weight on the balls of their feet, and the spine should be at a good straight angle.
Putting is a fun aspect of golf for kids. If they seem to be struggling with it, you can make sure they are placing their feet about shoulder-width apart and pointing their toes straight out. Have them slightly bend their knees and make sure they are keeping their body straight. They should then take a good at the hole, then back at the ball and bring the putter straight back, hit the ball smoothly toward the hole.
The chip shot is used when the ball is close to the green but not on it. It is the type of shot you use when you are trying to get the ball over the taller grass in the rough onto the green. When doing a chip shot show kids, they should use a 7 or 9 iron.
The Full Swing
When kids are doing a full swing, make sure their feet are shoulder-width apart. Their back foot should be pointing straight out from their body. The front foot is turned slightly towards the hole. With their back straight, they can bend their knees a little. Have them bring the club back, and as they do that, they should transfer their weight to their back foot. Then they can sweep the club through the ball. As you do this, their weight will move with the club and end up on their front foot.
This is a good series with some helpful hints on how to do the swing for a five-year-old, 7-year-old and a 12-year-old
An easy way to help kids learn golf basics is through an instructional DVD. Surprisingly, there aren’t that many golf DVDs for kids, and the available ones have slightly mixed reviews.
- The Better Golf Academy: Better Golf for Kids Vol. 1 introduces the basics of golf with a unique teaching method specially developed for children. The DVD goes over what kids need to know, including safety and getting started, the swing, pitching, sand play, chipping, putting, playing by the rules. You can view a preview of it here.
- gotGolf? Teaching Kids Golf: Short Game is a DVD that is for parents, coaches, and teachers. Some of the topics that are covered are grip techniques, the put, chipping, pitching, the Bump and Run, Sand Shots, Flop Shots.
- gotGolf? Teaching Kids Golf: Swing Fundamentals covers (you guessed it) swing fundamentals. If you are having trouble teaching your kids how to swing the club, then this is a good option. Although it isn’t a great DVD if you are looking for a general golf DVD, you would be better off getting The Better Golf Academy DVD.
Books are a useful tool in helping children learn about golf and to help develop a love of the game. We have included storybooks and instructional books, as well as a couple of books for parents who are looking for some useful info on how to teach their kid’s golf.
Books for Younger Kids
- P is for Putt: A Golf Alphabet (Sports Alphabet). By the prolific children’s sports writer Brad Herzog, this ABC book goes over some golf history and some of the big names. These ABC series are very popular.
- Consider It Golf: Golf Etiquette and Safety Tips for Children! is part of a series of golf-themed books (Count on Golf, The ABC’s of Golf, Swing Into Opposites with Golf, Junior Golf Journal) by Susan Greene. This book uses rhymes and illustrations to teach golf etiquette and course safety to kids. From repairing your divot to being a good sport, the beginner golfer is introduced to proper conduct on the golf course. This book puts many of the golf rules and safety concerns into easy to understand kid language. It’s a great place to start when introducing your child to golf.
Books for Kids Ages 8+
- The Kids Book of Golf (ages 8-12) is a bit old school, but it would be a good book for a slightly older child who is interested in learning about golf who doesn’t know much already. It has a little bit about the history, parts of a golf course, info on clubs, a bit about some of the basics that kids should know(grip, putting, chipping, full swing), rules, warming up, some drills, games within the game, tips from the pros, info about some of the major tournament, etc. It is a very easy to read a book for kids that gives a decent overview for kids who are interested in learning about the game.
- Golf: From Tee to Green-The Essential Guide for Young GolfersThis book has easy-to-follow instructions that can help with the all-round play of any young golfer, covers tee shots, iron play, pitching, chipping, coping with bunkers and the green. It also has sections on the history of the game, the all-time great players, famous holes and memorable tournaments.
- Francis and Eddie: The True Story of America’s Underdogs is a storybook based on a bit of exciting golf history that involved a child. A century ago, in 1913, the world’s finest golfers gathered at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to compete in golf’s national championship, the U.S. Open. Joining them was a little-known amateur, 20-year-old Francis Ouimet, who lived across the street from the course and taught himself to play by sneaking onto the fairways with the only golf club he owned. His caddie was a ten-year-old Eddie Lowery.
- Daddy Caddy On the Bag: Coach Your Child to Peak Golf Performance is kind of a cool book that is written especially for parents who are teaching their kids to play golf. This book is for parents who are relatively serious and are looking to coach their child rather than just teach them the game for the fun of it. It covers things like effective golf skills development, caddying for your kid, emotions, and mental challenges that kids face, and how to be a good coach.
- Teaching Kids Golf: A Baffled Parent’s Guide is sort of the opposite of the Daddy Caddy book mentioned above. It is much more laid back. This is a good book if you are looking for something just to introduce golf you to kids, not create the next golf superstar. It’s a gentle intro to teaching kids golf, it shows parents how to teach their kids the various things they need to know, but it stresses that golf first and foremost should be fun for kids, especially younger kids. The book covers everything from the basics of proper grip and swing techniques to putting, pitching, driving, and managing time on the course.