Ever since I started U.S. Kids Golf in 1996, I’m continually asked for advice by parents who want to get their kids involved in this great game. I’m always happy to share my thoughts, and over the years, my advice has grown as I’ve continued to learn. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is my love for golf and my love for my family. And everything we do is based on the hope golf can enrich your family life as much as it has mine.
So I gladly share these thoughts that I offer to any parent who wants to enrich their lives and their kids lives through playing golf.
The first, most important tip I share, is to make the range or course a happy, fun place to be. Fun for kids is often different than fun for adults. So don’t define their fun for them. There’s no need to get too technical early as they swing, and don’t worry about results or scores. Most of us, as well-intentioned as we are, still get too critical when a player starts to learn to play. Kids don’t want an overload of correction. Let’s make every visit to the course a positive one. One coach I know suggests that when you sense your kid is having the best time, it’s time to leave. Why? Because it makes them want to come back. And that’s always a good thing.
- Watch the Short Game Movie on Netflix. This award-winning documentary about young golfers coming to our World Championship will ignite their passion for the game, and most want to watch it multiple times. After watching, please consider my next recommendation: become a Second-Goal Parent.
- Become a Second-Goal Parent through the Positive Coaching Alliance. You will find very practical ways to help your child learn the unique life lessons found in sports. You can use the following code, USKidsGolfSGP24 to receive a $15 discount for the online course (normal price is $30) and certify yourself as a Second-Goal Parent.
- For their first clubs, choose the U.S. Kids Yard Club and an Ultralight Putter. I say not to get too technical, which is important, but you can still develop important fundamentals with the right equipment. This is why I recommend our U.S. Kids Golf Yard Club as the best first club to use for beginners. The molded grip of the Yard Club helps the young player quickly develop a natural swing with speed and power. It also saves you a lot of reminding since the proper grip will not be automatic. A correct fitting putter develops a good natural stroke, with a good flat area for a proper “Thumbs on Top” grip.
- Before you purchase any set of clubs, use our Find-a-Coach Directory to locate a coach near you. Every coach in the directory has gone through one of our Certification Seminars and should understand how to best fit your player for the proper equipment. Some will even offer demo sets or rental sets so you can be confident you are getting the right equipment for your golfer.
- Proper Fitting as the player grows is extremely important in their development. You can expect your child to grow 2.5 to 3” per year prior to puberty. This means you will need to change equipment often so the clubs are proportionate. Know that U.S. Kids has made fitting easy, and more information about this can be found on our website. According to his dad, Earl, Tiger Woods’ clubs were refit every six months during his growth years. Many families sell their older clubs (ebay and Facebook Marketplace are good places to start) as they continue to grow and need to purchase larger sized sets.
- Don’t use a longer driver to gain a few yards now. It’s not worth it. I see this far too often in our tournaments. This is actually harmful to long-term full swing development and can prevent your young player from reaching their full potential. Every ½” longer adds .3 of swing weight. Adding 2” to your driver length means 1.2 swing weight higher than your other clubs. Not a good solution for swing development.
- Check out our Player Pathway curriculum to learn the game. Purchase our Level 1 booklet from this website, and you will be surprised how quickly and easily your player can learn important fundamentals of golf. Many coaches are using our curriculum, but not all. When you search for a coach for your player, ask if the Player Pathway curriculum is being used.
- Sign Up for a Parent/Child National Camp that we have throughout the summer at Longleaf. We help players fall in love with game. Go to our schedule and see what times are available. There’s nothing quite like it, and Pinehurst/Southern Pines, NC, is a great place to visit.
- Play appropriate yardages. When you get your young player out on the course, set realistic expectations by playing proper yardages for their skill level. Don’t make holes long, as players must then “hurry” because they have to hit extra shots to the green. This causes frustration for them, and can slow the pace of play for others. We have actually solved for this with our revolutionary setup at Longleaf Golf and Family Club. Many courses have adopted this model. Learn more here. Play a course based on your game, not your gender or age.
- For those pursuing a long term competitive journey, take advice from others who have traveled that path. One of my favorite articles is from one of our parent caddies, Seth Waugh, who is now the current CEO of the PGA of America. He wrote a Golf World article about his time caddying for his son back in 2007. Click here to read.
"Everything we do at U.S. Kids Golf is a result of our trying to be better parents to our own kids."
-Dan and Jennifer Van Horn
To continue to grow this mission, we need your help. Your contribution is tax-deductible. Should you want to know more about us, please visit GuideStar.com. I hope you will consider helping us continue to serve the world’s most important golfers.