Finding time for golf, in the early years
If you’re like many of our families that we spend time with, you are likely very organized and have purposefully planned out a schedule for your children. Your goal, shared with all parents really, is to provide the very best opportunities for your child to develop in a balanced and harmonious way.
When it comes to golf, we often get asked the question of how much “golf time” a young boy or girl should budget into their schedules. We recognize that golf is one of many options a young athlete might consider, so we thought it would be helpful to address the common principles around which we feel one can cultivate appreciation for the sport in a fun and enchanting way which will most likely lead to a lifetime of interest.
In answer to the question of “why golf?”, we, along with so many others (including Arnold Palmer in his quote below), feel that golf is among the very best activities one can choose.
“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”
With the many layers of the sport – ranging from social to psychological, from tactical to technical – the sport of golf teaches young athletes to embrace the process of mastery and to acknowledge the joy and struggle inherent in the pursuit of a “high performance life”. Furthermore, the game presents a unique social component, and I can tell you that for many of our young players the camaraderie and fellowship found in the game are what keep them coming back.
There is no rush to devote all of one’s energy to the game before the teenage years. One’s commitment to the game at the youngest ages is not a significant predictor of future success in the sport. But the early years in an athlete’s life are a wonderful opportunity to introduce the fundamentals and plant the seeds of engagement which might grow increasingly over the coming years. The years between 7 and 13 offer a beautiful “window of trainability” which can bear fruit later in life depending on how committed they become. A player who has learned the fundamentals at an early age will have advantages in the later years if they choose to specialize in the sport.
The answer to how much golf your child “needs” this winter does depend on how involved they are in the sport already. To be clear, we do feel that it is healthy in most cases to have many interests at this stage of life. A twelve year old who has played in a few tournaments and plays few other sports could use golf as a major sport and devote 5-10 hours per week to it. For most, however, golf is a secondary sport (at least for now) and our recommendation is simply to be sure that the game is part of their life – maybe 2 hours every few weeks in terms of commitment in the winter months.
3 Suggestions to support your child’s development in golf:
1) FIND TIME:
The first suggestion we would make is for you to find a few time slots in every month to devote to playing golf. In the indoor phase this can mean heading to any of a number of indoor options sprinkled around the GTA. The key is to carve out some set times to fit into an otherwise busy schedule. Look for consistency, blocking off a set time and day has been shown to produce good results and helps to build a “habit” of training golf.
Part B of this first suggestion would be to consider purchasing a time card or a membership at an indoor facility for the winter months. Marking off 15-25 hours of time over the winter months is realistic and effective for skill development, and you can structure these hours to be in a form that is most comfortable for the child – in some instances it will be mostly one on one with an instructor, while in other instances it could be more spending the time with friends or family. The key is to get some hours practicing and playing the game.
2) FIND HELP:
For young golfers who are just beginning to seek out more golf experiences, our second recommendation is to seek out very qualified youth coaches, and enroll in their program offerings and seek out their expertise on how to best nurture a healthy development within the sport. There is no better way to ensure your child’s enjoyment of the sport than to align them with coaches who understand the process of motor skill acquisition and can personalize a development plan. It is also beneficial to have them surrounded by peers who are seeking out similar experiences.
3) FIND TOOLS:
A third item would pertain to equipment, and it’s a good idea to budget a few hundred dollars for well-sized set of golf clubs. Most players won’t need a “full bag” of clubs, just 5 or 6 clubs is all that they need, but it is so important to be sure that the equipment is the proper size and weight. In our experience, US kids golf clubs are a gold standard company that specializes in youth equipment and is certainly a great place to start.
Over the coming months, we will be offering a variety of options for young golfers to participate in. Our junior programs, and the coaches who lead them, are consistently recognized as National leaders in the sport. For instance, our “Learn to Play” winter programs are offered on various days and provide young golfers with structured environments within which they are challenged to develop their fundamentals and embrace the joys inherent in practice. They are a great place to start, and beyond these programs we are always happy to have a conversation and counsel families with their navigation through the sport of golf.
CLICK HERE for the “Learn To Play” flyer for the next few months.
Please let us know how we can support you…