Posts Tagged ‘short attention span’

Getting Started in Junior Golf… Made Easy – part 1

Parenting a Junior Golfer leads to memories that last a lifetime!

Wow, here we’ve been going into a lot of details about what to do to support and encourage your Junior Golfer, but maybe you’re visiting for the first time and hadn’t consider golf as an option for your youngster… Well here’s our first installment of how to start your child in the wonderful, exciting and healthy world of Junior Golf.

This will begin some of the greatest experiences you, your Junior Golfer and all your family will ever have!

Let’s begin:

1.  Does your child have any interest in golf?  How do you know?

  • Start by asking and taking a trip to the range. let them swing at some balls and watch the excitement in his or her eyes.
  • If your child is very young, under 5 years old, buy a set of plastic clubs at a discount store and let them swing at whiffle balls in the yard.
  • If your child seems to have little interest right now, that’s OK.
  • Expose them to some golf:  have them watch golf on TV with you
    • Let them putt on the carpet and again take a couple of swings at the good old whiffle balls…great, inexpensive training aids.
    • It’s kind of like the kiddo who does not want to go fishing, but you take them anyway.  They really are not too interested until someone catches that first fish.  Then they say, “Do you think I could try that?”
    • Promote Positive Exposure without being pushy.
Wood, putter and iron are shown.

Wood, putter and iron are shown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2.  Get them some clubs.  Pre-owned children’s/beginner’s sets are readily available.

  • Every golf-related business either has some on hand or knows where you can get some at a very inexpensive price.
  • To get started, your JG needs only a few clubs:  5-iron, 7-iron, 9-iron, pitching wedge, putter and either a 3-wood or 5-wood.
  • U. S Kids Golf makes great clubs for youngsters.
  • As their skills increase, you can upgrade to more clubs and more different types/brands of clubs-skill level compatible.
  • Caution:  make sure the clubs are the correct length for your child.
    •   Clubs that are too long or too short do not give your Junior Golfer much chance of success.
    • Get your child fitted at a major sporting goods store or golf facility.
    • Write down the correct shaft length of the 5-iron that fits your child.
    • While you may be charged for the fitting, you are not obligated to buy clubs from the person that does the fitting.
    • But you do want to buy clubs with a 5-iron that matches the length you wrote down.

3.  Buy a golf bag.  As a rule, buy the lightest bag that their stature allows them to carry.

  • One or two pockets are all they need at this point.
  • Stand bags -the ones with the legs that pop out when you set them down, are super!
  • Buy the size that fits your Junior Golfer, not you.

4.  Buy the best quality golf shoes you can afford.  Top name brands include Adidas, Etonic, Footjoy and Nike among others.

  • Make sure they fit properly.
  • Soft spikes are required on almost every golf course these days
  • Buy a waterproof style if you can afford it.  Wet feet are no fun on the golf course.
  • S3 has worn the Adidas Tour 360 4.0’s for the last 4 years and they are fabulous-a bit pricey, but an excellent value!

5.  Get a glove.  99% of all golfers who wear gloves, wear one on their weak hand.

  • If your Junior Golfer is playing golf right-handed, they would use a glove on their left hand.
  • The best selection of gloves is at the biggest golf stores.
  • If your Junior Golfer needs a Youth or Children’s glove-their hand is smaller than an Adult XS, yes, you need to shop at a big golf store.
  • For the girls, there are a good variety of gloves in very lady-like colors.  Again, go to the bigger golf stores or big sporting goods stores.
  • Gloves serve several purposes:  controlling moisture, controlling grip, helping with feel and with beginners, even stopping the formation of blisters.  And gloves just look good!

Okay, these are the first 5 tips, 5 more to come, we don’t want to overload you… that would be like carrying a full pro’s bag for 18 holes – think of this more as a golf cart version – we want you to enjoy the game, and this blog!

Now get out there and yes… have fun! Sam and Linda

7 Tips for Junior Golf Parents to Finding Your Best Golf Coach

As the parent of a Junior golfer it’s important to release them to the professionals as soon as you can!

Our son, S3, has only had 2 coaches over the last 13 years.  Junior Golf coaches are called, Coaches, Swing Coaches or Instructors, for the most part –as differentiated from Coaches of a particular golf team –a high school or college team, for instance.

S3’s first swing coach was PGA Professional John Clay –a fine instructor, a fine man and a good family friend to this day.  When John moved to a different location, we had to find a new swing coach.  At a summer junior golf skills clinic at Olympia Hills Golf Course, we first met Tim – PGA Professional Tim Harford.  Tim was great with these youngsters, S3 was 7 years-old, I knew we had found our new swing coach.  Tim has been S3’s coach for the last 11 years and the 2 of them have produced great results!

Here are 7 tips to get you started:

1.  Select a PGA Professional Instructor.  In most cases, family and friends are not suited to be your Junior Golfer’s golf coach.  It is better to get proper instruction from the start, than to have your Junior Golfer exposed to some bad habits and having to fix them later.  A PGA Pro is your best choice.

2.  Consider the distance. Your coach probably has a driving range he or she likes to use; the closer they are the easier it will be to fit your practice schedule.  Proximity doesn’t kill the deal in the selection process but it should be a consideration simply for time sake.  I realize that in some cases you have no choice.

3.  Consider his or her track record.

  • Ask for referrals.
  • Ask about the success of their students.
  • How many have placed in or won tournaments?
  • How many are on junior high or high school golf teams?
  • What is their rank on the team?
  • Have any made All-District or been Regional or State qualifiers?
  • Are any attending college on a golf scholarship?

This is a big deal.  You want your Junior Golfer with a successful coach.

4.  Consider the cost.  Here in San Antonio, the price ranges from $25.00 per hour to $100.00+ per hour.   More expensive is not explicitly better; many times you are paying for more than the Pro, it could include range use, overhead costs, and secondary fees.  Usually we get 5-lesson packages from Tim and worked out a discount for range balls to go along with the lessons.  This made for a very reasonably-priced package. Don’t be afraid to ask!

5.  Consider the coach’s temperament. Go watch your candidates give a lesson to a kiddo about your child’s age.  How is the instructor with this age group?  You will see differences, so go watch several lessons by different PGA Pro’s.  Be sure to select a coach who tells the students what to do, rather than one who tells them what not to do.  This is very important.

6.  Consider the coach’s teaching style.

a. How much does the coach talk during the lesson?  We have found that less is better.  You will see some coaches that talk incessantly and give their students a zillion things to remember.  Run the other way!  Your child’s brain is a sponge and if they soak up all that chatter they will be overwhelmed and never get any better.

b. S3’s Coach, Tim, keeps instruction simple and to a minimum.  For the past 11 years we have never seen Tim raise his voice or get angry.  He is soft-spoken and has an amazing knack for giving his students only 2 or 3 things to work on when their lesson is over.  And his students improve their golf game!

7.  Consider the coach’s interaction with your Junior Golfer.  You won’t really know this until you have had a few lessons.

  • Ask your kiddo if they like working with Coach X.  You may be very surprised at the answer if your JG tells you they don’t like this coach, but didn’t want to say anything because it might upset you.  You must ask this question because if your JG doesn’t like the instructor, they won’t learn much, if anything.
  • Does the coach return your calls, texts, or emails promptly?
  • Are they willing to work your child in for a lesson on little or no notice?  If this one won’t, there are plenty that will.

When you find the right coach, you and your Junior Golfer will know it.  You will have made a good and trusted friend.  And you may have two different coaches, one for initial instruction and one for more advanced techniques.

Now, start looking!  Have some fun!! – Sam

The Mental Game of Junior Golf: No One is Immune to Pressure!

“the burden of mental or physical distress especially from grief, illness, or adversity”

The pressure is on for parenting junior golfers!

What a great finish to the Greenbriar Classic this past July as Ted Potter, Jr and Troy Kelly, tied after 72-holes, needing 3 playoff holes to decide the winner!  Pressure was taking its toll on many of the half-dozen or so players who had a chance to win going into their final 9 holes. Tour veteran Ken Duke had 2 doubles in a row.  US Open champion Webb Simpson had a string of bogeys.  Even Ted and Troy hit some poor shots during their playoff… pressure never takes a holiday.  Even the pros are not immune to the impact of pressure.

Our junior golfers (JG’s) have endless opportunities to experience pressure:

  • their first tournament,
  • their first tournament in a higher division,
  • the name of the tournament,
  • who is watching,
  • how many are watching,
  • what does today’s score mean for future events,
  • “I am playing terrible…how do I fix it?”,
  • “I am playing great…how do I keep it up?”,
  • “Wow I have never hit this shot before…can I pull it off?”,
  • “This 3-foot putt has my knees knocking!”
  • …and the list goes on and on.

Successfully dealing with pressure is a learned behavior and while some Junior Golfer’s do it better than others…please remember Mom and Dad, no one is immune.  The earlier you and your JG address this issue, the faster their overall game should improve.

English: The British professional golfer Nick ...

Sir Nick Faldo and Ian Baker-Finch were talking about pressure during the closing holes of The Greenbriar Classic.  To paraphrase Sir Nick talking about the pressure mostly on Ted Potter, Jr and Troy Kelly:

You need to be able to recognize that some part of your body or mind is over-revved …too hyped up.  Identify that part and have a brief conversation with it and do something to calm yourself down …take a few deep breaths.

When Sir Nick Faldo and Ian Baker-Finch talk –you certainly want to pay attention.

Your junior golfer is not going to achieve their desired result when their knees are shaking, or their pulse or blood pressure is elevated.  Deep breathing exercises can be helpful:

  • Stand still
  • Take a deep breath and hold it for 5 seconds
  • Let it out slowly
  • Repeat several times
  • Refocus

Parents, we hope this brief introduction to the mental part of your Junior Golfer’s golf game has been helpful.  Please remember that pressure is always there, sometimes more… sometimes less… your Junior Golfer does want to play well for you and of course… they have their competitive spirit… 2 more areas of pressure.

Linda and I are sharing our real-life experiences from the last 10 years with our son Sam III, (S3)’s junior golf career.  We appreciate you joining us on this journey and we hope our successful junior golf experiences will be a foundation for success in your junior golfer.

Now get out there and have some fun! –Sam

Getting Into the Swing of Junior Golf

Parenting your Junior golfer starts young for some!

Our son, Sam III began his love of golf at the age of five following in the footsteps of his father Sam Jr, who began at 4 in San Antonio, TX. We are the first to say that having golfers already in the family is a bonus but not a requirement to raising successful Juniors.

Like father like son

You can tell by this photo, that getting into the swing of golf begins simply with the desire to hit a little white ball around the yard (as long as you have a clear line-of-sight in front of you that is). This shot of Sam Jr in his front yard is not unlike many taken everyday by parents who see the ‘desire’ in their child and want to nurture it.

Here are a few tips to make your transition into the Junior golf lifestyle as pleasant and profitable as possible:
  • Get them started young… Age five is a good. But know, there are great Junior golfers who started out in their teens.
  • Get equipment that fits… Yes even for beginners this is important! Clubs that are too long, too short, or too heavy, will severely impede any progress. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy, and Edwin Watts are three national chains that are very helpful in fitting clubs to your Junior Golfer.
  •  Make the sessions short… Begin your Junior Golfer with short golf sessions, 10-15 minutes for ages five to six , due to the short attention span common at this age. Increase the time spent focusing on golf to match their desire and eagerness to learn.
  • Make it a habit… Three times a week on the driving range or in your front yard (with whiffle balls) helps your Junior Golfer to look forward to the next time.
  •  Make it FUN!!  Be very positive and encouraging.  As much as you want your Junior Golfer to succeed you can’t bully them into loving the game, it will only break their spirit… correction comes later.
  • Get involved in The First Tee This organization is nationwide and a great kick-start for Junior golfers.

We would love to get your feedback and other tips you’d like to pass along as well. Our goal is to provide an information packed site worthy of your return… you will make that happen by being active in the journey.

Keep your eyes on the ball… the fairway to empowering your Junior Golfer is clear ahead!

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