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Opinion & Analysis

Growing Up Golf Part 3: “Golf Association”

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Click here to read more stories from Kadin’s series, “Growing Up Golf.”

Cold weather has reached Northwest Indiana. Though I have no issues going out and playing in 40 degree weather, most of my children’s adventures in golf are now somewhat restricted to indoor activities. Our daughter still asks me every day if we can go “hit balls,” but with daylight becoming shorter and shorter it has become very hard to get out to the practice area before dark. With this challenge, we have been on the creative side of golf related activities.

Before I start listing some ideas for you to share with your children, I want to address a question. What happens when your child doesn’t want to putt or take swings with a club? After all, they are kids and their attention span is short for the most part. I have a list of 25 activities that will keep the interest of a child without having to always have a “Practice Routine.” Now, some of these activities utilize swinging and putting but some are just fun ways to keep an association to golf, even if the child doesn’t realize it. Others are fun new ways to work on their game without doing the same old trip to the range or putting green.

Here they are:

1. Hit balls into a pond or lake. Kids love to see the splash of the ball. Just pick up some old “hit away” balls and let the fun begin.

2. Dye your ball like an Easter Egg. Any over-the-counter clothing dye will work.

3. Hit balls through a Hoola-Hoop. This is a fun and challenging new way for them to practice the short game.

4. Hit balls into a kiddie pool. Not only will they enjoy the splash but you can incorporate distance control.

5. Draw on your ball with a stencil. Any stencil will work and can be found at most hobby stores.

6. Place candy/treats into a plastic cup and have them knock the cup over while putting to earn the treat. This is a great way to work on distance control with putting and accuracy.

7. Set up a putt-putt course. Be as creative as you want indoors or out.

8. Roll balls back and forth on a practice green underhand to each other. When they don’t feel like using the putter, roll the ball back and forth to one another. This is a great way for them to learn how to read greens.

9. Spell their name on the ground using tees. Sometimes, the easiest part of the game can be a challenge for little kids. Placing a tee in the ground can prove to be a difficult. This is a fun way for them to work on it, without pressure.

10. Draw on a ball. Kids love to color and draw. Let them draw on some shag bag balls.

11. Hit water balloons in the summer and snowballs in the winter. This is a fun way to work on their swing and stay cool at the same time.

12. Build a snowman using old golf gear. Snow on the ground can prove to be the end of a golf season. This is a fun way to keep golf on their minds.

13. Let them explore your golf bag. Younger kids are inquisitive by nature allow them to explore your bag. My son loves this.

14. Paint an old pair of golf shoes. This is another way to be artistic and keep a golf association.

15. Paint on a shirt using a golf ball as a roller. The dimples on the ball make for a cool looking pattern for children.

16. Roll balls over Play-Doh, clay or silly putty. Teachers will tell you that clay is one of the best toys for your child to play with. Like painting the shirt,  a ball the dimples will have the same effect.

17. Decorate poster board and cut out holes to putt through. You can use this in your putt-putt course design or just use it for a putting station. Decorate it with what your child has an interest in.

18.Poke tees through some foam and space them out so they can place balls on the tees. This is another way for them to practice balancing the ball on top. Like I said, this seems very easy but may not be for little hands.

19. Draw faces on golf balls.

20.Hit balls into a laundry basket. This is a great way to work on chipping and the ball will rebound right back to your child.

21. Let them help when cleaning your clubs. Just like washing your car, kids will want to help when it comes to washing your clubs.

22. Paint old golf balls. Another fun artistic activity.

23. Let them color on old score cards. Why throw out your old score cards? This will give your child a chance to start learning how the card is used.

24. Use old score cards to practice adding and subtracting. What a great way for them to learn how to score and strengthen their math skills at the same time.

25. Use wiffle golf balls and yarn to make a long necklace or count down chain. This will improve hand eye coordination and the creative possibilities are endless.

This list could go on and on. Just let your creativity run wild. Some of the activities are new twists on old routines and others are a nice break from the “usual” routine. There are several activities that don’t improve skills but keep golf fun. As I stated in the previous article, as long as you can keep an association to golf, you’re doing ok. These are great ways to keep it fun and stress free for you as a parent. Your child also gets to be … well, a child.

When I was instructing baseball/softball what I found to be the best way to instruct younger athletes was by incorporating skill-building drills that didn’t feel like “practice.” I tried to create games and equipment that made grooving a swing or throwing/fielding a ball fun and interesting. I kept it challenging enough to motivate them to be better without having to “coach” them at the same time.

While searching for golf-related activities for my son and daughter I ran across a company called S.N.A.G. (Starting New At Golf). What attracted me to this their product was their approach to teaching. It was very similar to how I instructed baseball/softball.

SNAG is a first-touch development program designed for new learners of all ages. In 1995, two PGA TOUR professionals, Terry Anton and Wally Armstrong, joined forces to discover if there might be a simpler, less threatening way to learn the game. What they learned through interviews with golf’s pros is how they acquired their skills. The pros all had one thing in common — they learned to play with one club. The pros experienced the “simple” feel of the golf club and the ball versus students of complicated instruction that involved body positioning, correct postures, swing angles, weight transfer, grips and stances.

What S.N.A.G. has designed may be the easiest way to teach and introduce golf to children. They only have two clubs: the Launcher (a club with an over sized head) is used to launch, pitch, and chip the ball. The Roller, which is like a putter, is used to roll the ball toward the target. All shots other than rolling (putting) are played off of a mat and tee called the Launch Pad. This ensures that the player will have an optimal lie every time. The target, called a Flagsticky, also differs from anything else in golf, as it is not a hole with a cup inside but rather an above-ground weighted cylinder covered with a hook material. The SNAG Ball is slightly smaller than a tennis ball and is covered with a loop material. Striking the ball has the same feel and compression as hitting a real golf ball. Unlike golf, where you finish by putting your ball into the cup, in SNAG, you finish by sticking your ball to the Flagsticky. Because of the mobile Launch Pad and Flagsticky, SNAG is portable and playable just about anywhere.

Snag also has golf swing mechanic specific training aides. My favorite one is the SNAGazoo. It is designed to develop the proper swing positions for a pitch shot. When the child swings away to the 9 o’clock position, their target arm and the SNAGazoo form an “L”. If this is done correctly, the device will then produce a sound (like a kazoo) indicating correct position. If done incorrectly, it makes no sounds.

This allows your child to self-correct when practicing their swing. They also have one called the Snapper. It looks like a club with a streamer on it that shows swing path. The Snapper is designed to develop the proper movement of a full golf swing. The training aide accomplishes this through a series of four exercises that focus on hands, arms and weight distribution. The streamer follows the swing path giving a visual effect. Your child is instructed to “pop” the streamer, which if successful would indicate the correct use of the hands at the impact area. S.N.A.G. also has several “sticky” targets available. They have one that floats in water or stands up like a bulls eye. They even have a suit that you can wear that the ball will stick to when hit.

From swing mechanics, alignment to proper hand placement (the club has a color coded grip for your child to follow) S.N.A.G. has created teaching and introducing golf has fun and easy as you can make it. They even give you different verbiage to use with your child. They simply made it simple. I recommend this to anyone starting out or even as use as something to just shake it up a little and give your children a different look at how fun golf can be.

Click here for more discussion in the “Junior Golf” forum. 

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Kadin Mahmet has a passion for golf. He has coached at the collegiate level and has worked as an instructor specializing in youth athletics. You can follow Kadin on Twitter @BigKadin. "Like" Growing Up Golf on Facebook @ facebook.com/Growing.Up.Golf for more content.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Kadin Mahmet

    Dec 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    You are welcome Golf Training. Sorry for the late reply.

  2. golf training

    Nov 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    good tools for golf. thank you

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Opinion & Analysis

15 hot takes from Greg Norman on our 19th Hole podcast

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Our Michael Williams spoke with the Great White Shark himself, Greg Norman, for GolfWRX’s 19th Hole podcast. Not surprisingly, the two-time major champion had no shortage of hot takes.

While you’ll want to check out the full ‘cast, here are 15 takes of varying degrees of hotness, from Norman’s feelings about bifurcation to whether he’d pose for ESPN’s Body Issue.

1) He wants bifurcation immediately, rolling back technology for the pros, rolling it forward for amateurs

“I would instigate a bifurcation of the rules. I would roll back the golf ball regulations to pre-1996. I would roll back the technology that’s in the golf equipment for the professionals. And I would open up the technology and give it to the masses because the pros who developed the maximum club head speed of 118, 120 are the ones who maximize what technology is in that piece of equipment. So the person who’s under 100 miles an hour does not hit the ball an extra 30, 35 yards at all. They may pick up a few yards but they don’t get the full benefit of that technology…I would definitely do that because I think we’ve gotta make the game more fun for the masses. “

2) He has no relationship with Tiger Woods and doesn’t plan to watch him play golf

“And this might sound kind of strange. What I’ll say is … I really, in all honesty, I really don’t care what Tiger does with golf. I think Tiger is, golf probably needs him to some degree but golf doesn’t need him, if you know what I mean, because there’s so many other incredibly talented great young players out there, probably a dozen of them, maybe even more, that are equal, if not way better than Tiger, and they can carry the baton of being the number one player in the world. So, I get a little bit perplexed about and disappointed about how some of these guys get pushed into the background by the attention Tiger gets. I hope he does well. If he doesn’t do well, it doesn’t bother me. If he does do well, it doesn’t bother me.”

3) He plays almost no golf these days

“I really don’t play a lot of golf. I played with my son in the father-son at the end of last year, had a blast with him. Played a little bit of golf preparing for that. But since then I have not touched a golf club.”

4) He doesn’t enjoy going to the range anymore

“To be honest with you I’m sick and tired of being on the driving range hitting thousands and thousands of golf balls. That bores me to death now. My body doesn’t like it to tell you the truth. Since I’ve stopped playing golf I wake up without any aches and pains and I can go to the gym on a regular basis without aches and pains. So my lifestyle is totally different now. My expectations, equally, is totally different.”

5) It took him a long time to get used to recreational golf

“But I’ve been in this mode now for quite a few years now so the first couple of years, yes. My body was not giving me what my brain was expecting. So you do have to make those mental adjustments. Look, there’s no difference than when you hit 40, you’re a good player or not a good player. Things start to perform differently. Your proprioception is different. Your body is different. I don’t care how good you are and how great physical shape you are. Your body after just pure wear and tear, it eventually does tend to break down a little bit. And when you’re under the heat of the battle and under the gun, when you have to execute the most precise shot, your body sometimes doesn’t deliver what you want.”

6) He’s a big Tom Brady fan

“I’m a big fan, big admirer of his. He gets out of it what he puts into it obviously…But he’s also a role model and a stimulator for his teammates. No question, when you go to play Brady and the Patriots, you’d better bring your A game because he’s already got his A game ready to go.”

7) He believes we’ll see 50-plus-year-old winners on Tour

“I said this categorically when Tom Watson nearly won at Turnberry in his 50s, when I nearly won at Royal Birkdale in my 50s….if you keep yourself physically in good shape, flexibility in good shape, as well as your swing playing, and your swing. Yeah, maybe the yips come in maybe they don’t, that depends on the individual, right? But at the end of the day, my simple answer is yes. I do believe that’s going to happen.”

8) The Shark logo has been vital to his post-golf success

“But I realized very early on in life too that every athlete, male or female, no matter what sports you play you’re a finite entity. You have a finite period of time to maximize your best performance for X number of years. And with golf, if you look at it historically, it’s almost like a 15 year cycle. I had my 15 year run. Every other player has really has had a 15 year run, plus or minus a few years.”

“So you know you have that definitive piece of time you got to work with and then what you do after that is understanding what you did in that time period. And then how do you take that and parlay it? I was lucky because I had a very recognizable logo. It wasn’t initials. It wasn’t anything like that. It was just a Great Shark logo. And that developed a lot of traction. So I learned marketing and branding very, very quickly and how advantageous it could be as you look into the future about building your businesses.”

9) He’s tried to turn on-course disappointments into positives

“We all … well I shouldn’t say we all. I should say the top players, the top sports men and women work to win. Right? And when we do win that’s what we expected ourselves to do because we push ourselves to that limit. But you look at all the great golfers of the past and especially Jack Nicklaus, it’s how you react to a loss is more important than how you react to a victory. And so, I learned that very, very early on. And I can’t control other people’s destiny. I can’t control what other people do on the golf course. So I can only do what I do. When I screw up, I use that as a very strong study point in understanding my weakness to make sure that I make a weakness a strength.”

10) Jordan Spieth is best suited to be the top player in the world

“I think that Jordan is probably the most balanced, with best equilibrium in the game. He’s probably, from what I’m seeing, completely in touch with the responsibilities of what the game of golf and the success in the game of golf is.”

11) His golf design is built on two pillars

“Two things: Begin with the end in mind and the least disturbance approach. I think we, the industry of golf course design industry, really did the game of golf a major disservice in the 80s and 90s when everybody was leveraged to the hilt, thought they had unlimited capital, and thought they could just go build these big golf courses with big amounts of money invested in with magnificent giant club houses which weren’t necessary. So, we were actually doing a total disservice to the industry because it was not sustainable.”

12) He’s still not happy about having essentially invented the WGC events and not getting credit

“I’ll always be a little bit salty about that because there’s a saying that I keep telling everybody, “slay the dreamer.” I came up with a pretty interesting concept where the players would be the part owners of their own tour or their own destiny and rewarded the riches if they performed on the highest level. And quite honestly, Michael, actually a friend of mine sent me an article, it was a column written, “Shark and Fox Plan to Take a Bite out of the PGA”. And this is written in 11/17/94 and I literally just got it last night. And I’m reading through this article and I’m going, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I was ahead of my time!” I really was ahead of my time.

So, it was very, very kind of like a reflective moment for me. I read it again this morning with a cup of coffee and I did sit back and, I’ll be brutally honest with you and your listeners, and did sit back and I did get a little bit angry because of the way I was portrayed, the way I was positioned.”

13) He was muzzled by the producer at Fox

“I’m not going to dig deep into this, I think there was just a disconnect between the producer and myself. I got on really well with the director and everybody else behind the scenes, some of my thought processes about what I wanted to talk about situations during the day, and it just didn’t pan out. And things that I wanted to say, somebody would be yelling in my ear, “Don’t say it, don’t say it!” So it became a very much a controlled environment where I really didn’t feel that comfortable.”

14) Preparation wasn’t the problem during his U.S. Open broadcast

“I was totally prepared so wherever this misleading information comes saying I wasn’t prepared, I still have copious notes and folders about my preparation with the golf course, with the players, with the set-up, with conditioning. I was totally prepared. So that’s an assumption that’s out there that is not true. So there’s a situation where you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

15) He would do ESPN’s Body Issue

“Of course I’d do it. I think I like being fit. I think on my Instagram account I probably slipped a few images out there that created a bit of a stir…And I enjoy having myself feel good. And that’s not an egotistical thing, it’s just none of my, most of my life I’ve been very healthy fit guy and if somebody like ESPN wants to recognize that, yeah of course I would consider doing it.”

Don’t forget to listen to the full podcast here!

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Podcasts

TG2: “If you could only play one brand, what would it be?” (Part 2)

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“If you could only play one brand, what would it be?” Brian Knudson and Andrew Tursky debate their choices in part 2 of this podcast (click here in case you missed Part 1). Also, TG2 welcomes special guest and GolfWRX Forum Member Ed Settle to the show to discuss what clubs he has in the bag.

Listen to our podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Greg Norman on why he won’t watch Tiger Woods this week at the Genesis Open

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Greg Norman, Hall of Fame golfer and entrepreneur, tells us why he won’t watch the Genesis Open this week even if Tiger is in contention. He also discusses his ventures and adventures on and off the course, and shares the thing about the PGA Tour that still makes him angry.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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