Growing Up Golf Part 5: Structured Play
There will be a time when your child is going to cross over from “play time” to what I like to call “structured play time.” In the beginning stages of your child’s golf career you have been able to get by with taking them to the practice area and letting them have fun. As your child grows and develops into a young golfer, they will need to start some form of structured play.
Notice that I still refer to their time at the practice area or on the course as “play.” We never want to forget that golf is still a game to them, and we as parents need to keep it fun. After all, what child wants to go and “work” at something.
Structured play can come in the form of lessons, participating in the First Tee Program or enrolling into an ag- appropriate group class. Our daughter starting going to a program created for children ages 3 to 5 called “Little Tigers” when she turned 3. The class curriculum is very basic and there is no complicated instructions other than to have fun playing golf with other children the same age as her.
They play putting games such as putting a ball to a bell that rings when they hit it and chip shots through a hoola-hoop. I found this class in a local golf publication in my area. Check your local publications to see if a similar program is available for your children.
My wife and I wanted to introduce golf to our children because we love golf. Knowing that golf can be played for a life time, we wanted to share this with them and have something that we as a family can always do together. I am guessing most of you are golfers and maybe some you are not, and that’s ok too. I mention this because I know some of you are going to take on the role of “coach” sooner or later.
I can tell you from my experience, taking the leap from parent to coach is not an easy transition. When I was instructing baseball/softball, I would have a parent bring their child in for a lesson. I would observe and point out what I felt needed to be improved. The child and I would discuss it and then start working towards becoming better. The child would without question work at whatever needed improvement. Nine times out of 10 I would have a parent say something like, “I have been trying to get them to stop doing that for a month.” I would walk over to the frustrated parent while the child was working on a drill (so they child could not hear me) and say to them:
“Every parent who brings their son/daughter to me for a lesson all say the exact same thing.”
I would then go on to explain it’s not that you don’t know what your talking about, it’s because you’re “MOM” or “DAD.” It’s perfectly normal.
I share this story because there is going to be a point in time when your child is going to believe you have exhausted all your knowledge of the game, even if it’s not true and you have a wealth of knowledge to share with them. They will simply look at you as Mom or Dad, unless of course, you are a certified teaching pro (sometimes that doesn’t matter either).
This is completely normal and please don’t get frustrated if it happens. I want you to be aware of this and recognize it if it should start to happen. At that point, you will probably need to seek out an instructor who specializes in working with juniors and younger children. This will save an enormous amount of frustration for you and your child.
If you frequent the GolfWRX forum, you may be aware I was selected as one of the five members to represent GolfWRX in the TaylorMade RocketBladez Ultimate Experience. Myself and four other members where flown to Naples, Fla., for a fitting at the TaylorMade Performance Lab at the Tiburon Golf Club. While we were there we attended the grand opening of the Performance Lab, where guests received a gift package that included the PGA Tour Academy Home Edition.
Before I start, I am a firm believer that there is no substitution for one-on-one instruction with a certified teaching professional. But after reviewing this product I have to say, this is as close to personal instruction as you can get. If funds are limited this may be a solution to improving your child’s development.
The PGA Tour Academy Home Edition is an eight week course of instruction and comes complete with everything you need to improve your game.
TEN DVDs with 28 LESSONS & PRACTICE SESSIONS: Each lesson is about 20-to-40 minutes and designed to be completed at home. The lessons are dynamic, so make sure you actively follow the instruction, give yourself enough room, and focus on learning and trying the movements and skills.
THERE ARE TWO PRACTICE TRACKS that follow each lesson – white track for all abilities and BONUS blue track for advanced players. After each DVD lesson, watch your corresponding practice routine for the White or Blue Track. This practice routine shows you the specific drills you’ll be completing at the practice facility. The drills are straight forward, easy to follow and support the new skills and techniques you learned during the home lesson.
PRACTICE CALENDAR: Each home lesson has two levels of practice that follow the white track or blue track. Each practice session consists of three customized 15 minute drills that reinforce what you learned during the home lesson.
PRACTICE GUIDE: Thiscovers every practice routine in the program and describes each of the drills you’ll be completing during the eight-week program. It helps every level of golfer improve their game in just eight weeks with structured-practice program based on skill development and building a swing from the ground up. Players will learn what the pros know and achieve a breakthrough in their golf skill and knowledge.
INCLUDED: Contact bag and alignment sticks for all lessons.
INSTRUCTION BOOK: Over a 100 pages to help every golfer reach their potential and accelerate improvement.
As an instructor, one of the hardest elements for me to teach a student was “feel.” I worked very hard at creating drills and training aids to teach it, and found that feel is one of the hardest things to teach. What impressed me most about the learning system is how they teach and isolate body movements. The novice or beginner may not realize that the drills they are doing are teaching feel and proper body movements, but those of you who know proper swing mechanics will recognize that the learning system is teaching feel immediately.
When the time arrives to cross the bridge of play to structured play, keep it fun, make it simple in the beginning, keep an eye out for parent to coach back to parent transition and seek the help of a certified teaching professional who specializes working with youths. If funds are a concern, the PGA Tour Academy Home Edition may be a solution for you.