In May of 2008 I was fortunate enough to have my article “Raising a Golfer, A Parent’s Guide” published on PGA.com. Then again in April of this year an updated version of that article was published in the pages of Junior Golf Central Magazine. Ever since that first release in 2008, I have had an outpouring of very positive feedback as well as numerous questions from curious and caring parents. Because of this, I felt compelled to write another “advice column” type article for all you parents of junior golfers. This time however, I’ll focus more on the accomplished or tournament level junior golfer. As always, please feel free to reach out to me at BrendonElliott@pga.com or at Brendon@LittleLinksters.com with any questions you may have beyond the bullet points below.
Points for Parents of Competitive Junior Golfers (3-12 Years Old)
• KEEP “FUN” AS A FUNDAMENTAL- As I stress in my Little Linksters Program and in the pages of my new Little Linksters “Golf FUNdamentals” Coloring Book, you MUST remember that golf is simply a game and is meant to be enjoyable and FUN. This may be even more the case for your more advanced or tournament level junior golfer. If your child is an accomplished player or competes in events at their young age, they obviously have some degree of talent with the game. If you work them too hard or find yourself (Or them) taking things past the point of the experience being FUN then scale things back a little. “Burn out” at a young age could be detrimental not only to your child’s future golf career but also in all aspects of their life.
• CORRECT EQUIPMENT IS VITIAL- If your child is at the level of competing, having the correct clubs in their hands is so very important. Consult your local PGA Professional and have them fit your child for the proper clubs for them. If you are going to invest your time in your little guy or gals golf game don’t short change them with the equipment that you put in their hands. Often times buying a set “Off the Rack” is really not the best idea. Many junior specific club companies like U.S. Kids Golf have fitting systems based on height. You can ask your local U.S. Kids Golf supplier to help you fit your child to the correct set. U.S. Kids Golf has a great “Advanced Line” call its Tour Series. These clubs have many of the very same technological advancements that your clubs have but are scaled down to fit your little tour player correctly.
• LET THE TEACHER TEACH AS YOU PARENT- I would HIGHLY recommend that you leave a bulk of the instruction, teaching and coaching up to the PGA Professional or other accredited instructor you have selected for your child to them. Your role is simply to be the parent and head of the support system for your child. Far too many times the scenario of “Parent as Coach” leads to bad results and sadly at times a disrupted relationship with your child. This is hard for me to say, but even if you are a PGA Professional or Instructor yourself, I would at least have your child see another instructor for assistance. Now, with all that said, I am NOT saying that you need to stay completely hands off with your child’s training. If your child asks or you see something in the swing or with their game when the instructor is not present, jump in. However, try to stick with the teachings that your child’s instructor is working on with them.
• GROWTH AS A GOLFER GOES BEYOND THE SWING- A major part of developing as a golfer (juniors and Adults included) is to know that playing good golf is much, much more then learning and perfecting the act of swinging a club or stroking a putt. Far too many golfers develop well as ball strikers but can’t get the ball in the hole! PLAYING golf is NOT just swinging a club. There is an art to playing. What I mean by that is you have many other factors that you are in control of beyond the swing that play big parts in what number goes on the scorecard. Mental toughness, pre round preparation, pre shot preparation, course management, nutrition, physical fitness and even getting enough rest are all big parts to being a success in this game. This is true for a five year old, twenty five year old or fifty five year old.
• IS COMPITITION, COMPITITION? If you and your child are currently “on the circuit” or are taking part in events you know all too well that there are more and more “Tours” coming on the scene every day. This is by no means a bad thing and in fact I am so very pleased to see this. My advice however is do your research, make sure your child’s experience and skill levels match up with the “tour” you are considering. Challenge your child appropriately; there is nothing wrong with having them play in an event that may have more advanced players then them competing. Kids and adults for that matter tend to play better while playing with better players; it’s an excellent learning experience. Be careful though that you carefully plan out the number of times you sign them up for these types of events. You want your child to feel good about themselves and their game so make sure you have them in an equal number of events that they can be successful in as compared to those that they are challenged in.
• SOCCER, BASEBALL, DANCE, MUSIC- O.K. we are talking about golf here but I cannot stress enough that your child is just that…a child. Let them experience all they can at their young age. If they excel at golf, fantastic! Use the tips above to mold and develop their talents as a golfer. You cannot lose sight though that you are raising a child first and foremost and not just a golfer. You will get much more satisfaction out of people complimenting you as a parent on how well behaved your child is or how polite they are then how well they putt. Let your children find themselves; develop talents from sports, music, art and beyond.
In the next issue I will focus on the junior golfer in the age range of 13 to 18. The basic bullet points from above hold true for the older kids but the ball game gets much, much different and at times much more difficult to navigate for a parent. I will walk you through it and give you some guidance and advice to help you do what’s right for your child.
Remember; please feel free to reach out to me at BrendonElliott@pga.com or at Brendon@LittleLinksters.com with any questions. Log onto www.BrendonElliottGolf.com and www.LittleLinksters.com for more information and to get your copy of Little Linksters “Golf FUNdamentals” Coloring Book for your 3-8 year old golfer!