By Jill “MamaBug” Frier
It’s February, which in Arizona means prime golf season. Ranked as the second “golfiest” state in the union by Golf Magazine (only Florida ranks higher), our state hosts the best-attended golf tournament in the world, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and is home to seven of Golf Magazine’s Top 100 courses. Our stunning desert and mountain views serve as a backdrop to a world class golf experience, and we can’t think of a better location to introduce the game of golf to your youngsters. There are many kid-friendly golfing facilities, camps, and training resources available in the Valley of the Sun.
Here are a few tips for getting your kids started on the right foot when you introduce them to golf.
Teaching the Game and Keeping it Fun
The most important thing to remember when teaching kids how to play any sport is to have fun. Golf is no exception. When you take your kids out to the course, rather than focusing on developing the proper swing and learning the fundamentals right away, let them enjoy just whacking the ball around and being creative. Experts recommend that adults focus on having fun with golf initially, rather than trying to develop a great swing or technical ability, so that your kids will be more likely to want to go to the course with you again. Playing frequently is the biggest key to developing a golfer; learning proper technique will come as you child’s excitement for playing golf grows.
It’s also a good idea to start with the short game when you’re getting kids interested in golf. It can be hard for small children to get a golf ball into the air, but almost anyone can putt. Take your kids to play mini-golf, or to the driving range to practice and learn about the game. Also, take time to teach them about golfing rules and etiquette while you play, and emphasize that this is a fun activity – there should be no pressure, even if they can’t hit the ball very well.
Have the Right Equipment
Before you head out, be sure that you are prepared for your time out on the course. Wear sunscreen, hats, and the proper attire required by the course you plan to play on, and plan ahead for water, weather, and snacks. One of the most important things to think about is kid-sized equipment. Many experts say that a putter is the best choice as a kid’s first club, then a 9-iron training club because it is fun and easy for kids to hit the ball in the air off of a tee.
The weight and length of clubs makes a difference in a youngster’s ability to swing the club, so take time to visit a local golf store or pro shop to make sure your child’s clubs fit properly as they grow and develop. But a word of advice: golf equipment can be very expensive, so save your money until you know that golf is a good fit for your kid. Many instructors and courses have loaner equipment that your child can use until they start getting excited about playing on a regular basis.
Kids Golf Resources
There are hundreds of golf courses here in the valley, so do some research before you go to make sure that the course you want to play is kid friendly. Find out the course policies and costs of tee times, equipment rentals, and dress code so you can prepare ahead of time. Here are a few websites for some great advice on making golf a fun and enjoyable activity for you and your kids, as well as information on camps and competitive play.
Be sure to check out LadybugsBlog.com for more articles and recommendations for fun things to do outside with kids everywhere in Arizona!