Here are a few things you may want to do to prepare your child before he or she plays the first tournament:
- Skill Level: I remember when my little ones first started swinging their golf clubs, we were ready to compare their swings to LPGA pros! Hey, proud parents can’t help but see the potential. However, you don’t want your child frustrated and embarrassed. Playing with other juniors their age and younger even that are outscoring them by miles can’t be fun. So, make sure they are ready. Look at their ratios. If they are hitting the ball fairly straight and getting loft 70% of the time, they may be ready. If however, you see at the driving range that they’re hitting the ball decent 1 out of 10 shots, then they probably aren’t. But, keep practicing, they’ll be there before you know it!
- Knowing which clubs to use: When a tall 11 year old goes to tee off at a 100 yard Par 3 with her driver, that’s a sign that she doesn’t know which club she’s supposed to be using. Before letting your child go out and play independently, make sure you’ve taken them out on the golf course a few times first. Help them determine their yardages with each golf club. Also, write a little cheat sheet listing each club and the corresponding yardages they normally hit the ball with that club. Make sure they know how to measure their approach shot to the green by using markers, a range finder/GPS, eye balling or using the score card.
- Safety and Etiquette: While taking your child out on the golf course, help them develop respectful habits. Children are simply that, children. They can get excited, nervous and forgetful. Make sure they know not to swing when others are close by or walk next to another golfer warming up their swing. Help them understand who’s turn it is to play, tee off first, etc. The more they play, the more they learn and remember the proper etiquette while on the golf course.
- Rules: There are way too many rules in golf. I recommend keeping a rule book in the golf bag at all times. If you are playing a casual round, be sure to check the rules when you’re not sure. Try to review the most common rules such as lateral hazards, out of bounds, free relief situations on man made objects, etc.
- Keeping Score: Teach your child how to keep score. Also, help your child get into the habit of keeping score for other players. In many junior tournaments, this is the only method used to verify a competitor’s score. So, the better your child is at keeping score of other players, the less likely the other player will “accidentally” write down a lower score.
Ready to get your winner out there? I’ll discuss various tours and my recommendations on the ones I’ve had experience with in my next blog.