Teaching golf to kids is so rewarding for me. And I know it’s a wonderful experience for parents, too. After my coaching lessons are over, parents frequently ask me, “How can I teach golf to my child at home or on the course?” In my opinion, there are so many right ways to teach kids golf, and only a few wrong ones. Here’s a quick guide.
The Basics of Teaching Golf to Kids
I’ve taught kids golf for over a decade. While I also teach plenty of adults, kids are my favorite students. What’s the biggest difference between teaching kids and adults? Kids aren’t worried about golf, they’re just excited to hit a good shot. Adults bring all sorts of worry and negative thinking to golf. So, with that in mind, here are my basics to teaching golf to kids:
Start with Putting
Putting teaches kids everything they need to know: 1) Put your ball on the ground. 2) Pick up a club. 2) Use the club to hit the ball into the hole. If you think about it, that’s the entirety of golf. As you get farther and farther from the hole, there are more shots and more clubs to consider, but it’s still the same premise. Practice putting on the putting green, or in your living room. Kids love real golf holes, but asking them to putt and hit a toy on the carpet is fun, too.
It’s important to give your child a putter that fits them. I tend to recommend parents cut down an old putter, and have it regripped with a junior grip. This should cost you less than $20 at your local golf shop. And trust me, the clubsmiths LOVE modifying clubs for kids. It’s a highlight of their day. And giving your old putter to your child as their own, well, that’s exciting your child, too.
How long should your child’s putter be? When your child is standing up straight, the putter should be the height of their belly button.
Chipping on the Range
After your child is comfortable putting, they’re gonna wanna whack the ball. Hard. So, when they’re making good contact, and starting to understand how the club works, it’s time to take them to the range. Be sure to start with short shots or chips.
One of the most important concepts is to give your child a target. Whether it’s a 30 yard flag, the ball cart, or just a spot of brown grass, giving your child a target to aim at is crucial. Why? Because with the target, their body and mind can subconsciously do a lot of the work required to make good contact. Kids don’t need to know about launch angles and swing planes. Their bodies are incredible little supercomputers that figure all that out automatically.
Gripping the Club
“Wait a second, Mary… You didn’t talk about how to grip the club!” Interlocking, overlapping, the reverse overlap. Don’t worry about it. I let my first-timers hold their clubs, however they want. I might suggest that right-handers putt with their right hand down, and lefties with their left hand down — but that’s about it. In my experience, kids don’t need extra complication, they just want extra attention. Every time you’re considering giving your child a swing tip, instead just say, “You can do this. Try it a few different ways, and find out what works.”
How NOT to Teach Kids Golf
I think you can guess how NOT to teach kids golf. High expectations, yelling, and treating kids like adults are big no-no’s in my book. A golf club is already very interesting to most kids. They want to hit something with it. Their bodies can definitely figure out a few ways to whack a ball with a club. So let them explore. Let them try things that don’t work. If you’re positive and reassuring, most kids will keep exploring til they find something that’s rewarding for them.
What if it’s unconventional and weird? Don’t worry. They’ll try something different tomorrow, and the day after. Their swing will evolve and become their own over time. Let it happen. Support your kids. Enjoy them. And let them enjoy golf through their natural curiosity.
Don’t Correct Their Swing
Correcting a kid’s swing is just getting in the way of learning. If you spend enough time with them, supporting their love of golf, their swing will figure itself out. Trust me.
Don’t Be Complicated
Golf is simple. Ball. Club. Hole. Talking to a child about how to hit a driver versus a wedge is just too complex. Take the time with them to hit 100 wedge shots. And a 100 drivers. Their bodies and minds will teach themselves far more effectively than most “teachers”. That said, if you have access to a caring golf pro near you, definitely try it out. Sometimes kids are able to listen to golf pros more easily than their own parents.
Yelling is the worst thing a parent can do, when trying to teach their kids golf. Yelling spurs anxiety, and just makes kids feel like there’s a “wrong” way to play. Trust me, there is no wrong way to play. There’s just a wrong way to communicate, and it’s called “yelling.” Sure, if your child is about to walk into somebody’s backswing, tell them to watch out. But when it comes to putting, just remind them where the hole is — their supercomputer brains will figure out the rest.
Call or email anytime. I coach kids like yours, every day, and I love to help caring parents share their love of golf with their family.