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 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 for my family. Everything U.S. Kids does is based on the hope golf can enrich your family life.
I gladly share my thoughts with any parent who wants to begin their own journey in golf.
The first and most important tip is to make the range or course a happy, fun place to be. Fun for kids is often different than fun for adults. Don’t define their fun for them. Don’t get too technical as they swing, and don’t worry about results or scores. Most of us get too critical, and Kids don’t want an overload of correction. 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 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. They will develop important fundamentals with the right equipment, which is why I recommend our Yard Club as the best first club to use for beginners. The molded grip helps the young player quickly establish a proper grip and develop a natural swing with speed and power. It also saves you from reminding since a proper grip isn’t automatic. A correctly fitted putter encourages a natural stroke, with a flat area for a “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. 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. Visit our website to learn how we make fitting easy. According to his dad, Earl, Tiger Woods’ clubs were refit every six months during his growth years. Many families sell their older clubs on Ebay or Facebook Marketplace.
- 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, and it’s 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, 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 website 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 your young player is on the course, set realistic expectations by playing proper yardages for their skill level. Don’t play from the “ladies’ tees”, as players must then “hurry” because they must hit extra shots to the green and cannot make par. This causes frustration for them and can slow the pace of play for others. We have solved this problem with our revolutionary setup at Longleaf Golf and Family Club. Many courses here in the U.S. and abroad 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. A favorite article is in Golf World magazine from one of our parent caddies, Seth Waugh, who is now the current CEO of the PGA of America. He wrote about his time caddying for his son 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
All of my advice is based on more than 25 years of U.S. Kids Golf serving families like yours. It is an honor to serve this mission. In fact, you can join us in this cause by supporting the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation. Your donation is tax-deductible and goes towards reaching more families and making the game a better environment for all of us. For more details about the work of the foundation, please review our Foundation Impact Reports.