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Growing Up Golf Part 4: Lesson Time
As my journey continues with my children and their golf careers I have started the search for the right instructor for when the time comes. I have noticed in our forum that this seems to be a popular question… “How do I find an instructor for my child?”
I have taken the time to do some research, and I want to pass it on to all my fellow member/parents looking to answer this same question.
First things first you need to decide if the time is right for you child to take on structured lessons. I can not answer this for you — there is no magical age. You as the parent need to make this decision based on your child’s maturity and ability level. As a past instructor for baseball/softball, I had a rule that I would only take on students that were 7 or older. This is a pretty good general rule to follow.
Now, I know there are exceptions to the rule. My youngest student was 4 years old. When his Dad called me to set up lessons and I explained that I only took students that were 7 or older, but he convinced me to take a look at him. Well, the 4-year-old turned out to have exceptional ability — the skill level of an 8-year-old. He was able to hit pitches at speeds above 40 mph. With that said, you as a parent will have a good idea if your son/daughter is ready to take on lessons.
While searching for junior instructors I ran across the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation (their web address is uskidsgolf.com). I found this site to be very informative, and they have listed the top 50 U.S. Kids Golf Certified Instructors. A U.S. Kids Golf Certified Instructor is recognized as an expert in teaching golf to kids ages 12 and under. Each instructor uses an established curriculum that features game-based learning methods and play on a scaled golf course
Another idea you as a parent should consider is the First Tee Program. For those of you unfamiliar with this program, the First Tee is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth development organization. It’s purpose is to give young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop, through golf and character education, life-enhancing values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship.
The mission of The First Tee is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. The program is designed for young people ages 8-18. Some chapters offer modified programs for younger participants. All of the First Tee facilities are public facilities and have open times for participants of all ages. The First Tee National School Program serves young people in kindergarten through 5th grade.
The First Tee Life Skills Experience is used to further enhance and instill the inherent values of the game of golf, and show participants how these values transfer into other aspects of their lives. Students learn about responsibility, courtesy, how to make decisions by thinking about the possible consequences, how to set goals, how to define those goals, the importance of maintaining a positive attitude as well as the importance of showing respect for others.
Contact your local courses to find a participating First Tee program, you can also visit their website at thefirsttee.org. It is another great way to get your child involved in golf and be around other children doing the same.
If the time is right for your child or if your like me and looking to the future of structured lessons, these are a couple of good places to start.