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Private lessons for junior players


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#1 dkothari

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:59 AM

Hello - this is a question for parents and juniors out there.  I have a 6 year old son and a 7 year old daughter that I have just introduced to the game.  They are very eager and interested and the 6 year old has a pretty good swing after only 2-3 months of practice.  I've worked with them mostly myself and have had them take a couple of lessons at the PGA Superstore, which is a fun activity but actually pretty light on the instruction part.

I am taking them to a private lesson with a Top 50 US Kids instructor that is local for a 1-hour lesson.  It's a bit pricey at $100/lesson.  I have had my 6-year old take a group lesson at a local facility over the summer - but, again, it seemed to be very light on instruction.  They didn't have him work on basic aspects of the swing that I was able to work with him the first time we went out to a range.  It seems many of the group lessons are just focussed on letting the kids hit some balls and have fun - nothing wrong with that, but I would like to see them focus a little bit more on grooving the golf swing.  Maybe I just haven't found the right program.

So, my questions are - a) What have you found to be most effective in terms of coaching/instruction?  I plan to continue to work with them myself, but I think they can really benefit from instruction from the pros.  b) Group vs. individual instruction.  Group would be nice because of the social aspects as well as affordability, while private lessons, although more expensive, should allow more rapid progression.  c) If you did private lessons - what was the frequency?  once a month ?

Currently, I'm thinking we'll do individual instruction around once a month - get a couple of things we should work on from the golf instructor, go practice it, and then come back once we've made some progress - probably a month or so - and then do group instruction at one of the Nike or PGA summer camps.  I'd like to get some feedback from those that have "been there, done that".  Of course, I do realize that we have to balance it with their interest - right now they are very enthusiastic and eager to learn - don't know if that'll change.  They come home from school asking me if we can go the range every day - it really is fun working with them and it gets them away from the TV and video games.


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#2 evanleeball

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:15 AM

at 6 years old i would put his hands in the correct grip and then let him go at it. when he wants help he'll tell you.

#3 dkothari

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 06:12 PM

I guess that's one approach - would like to hear some other feedback.  I've heard that focussing on swing speed at this age is important because it's much harder to develop at a later age.  Any other feedback from people that got their children started with a little more structure at 6-7 years old?  I am very cognizant that they need to have fun - I'm not making it such that it's a work your rear end off to develope the game.  However, I would like them to practice/play with some purpose and an attempt to improve their game over time.

#4 semi

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 04:55 AM

My son started swinging a club very early and would swing it with 1 hand. When he put his second hand on the club he held the club with a reverse grip (age 4/5). I belonged to a small private club at the time and asked the Pro should I do anything about it and he replied "he's out there swinging having fun - it will sort itself out". Played baseball later in the year and when he held the bat, he held it correctly and the next time he held the golf club he no longer used the reverse grip. I took him to the golf course as much as I could - playing shots on holes, putting on practice greens so on...had his first group lesson around 8 and has been with the same PGA Instructor since. He's 15 now and playing very well.

From my experience, the best thing you can do is take your kids on the course as much as possible and let them have a go...of course, if you have the resourses or just want to take them to a lesson, there's nothing wrong with that. It's easy to do - the hard thing is finding the time to take them on a course but I really believe that is where you should be spending your time trying to figure out how you are going to do that if you haven't done so already....

Best of luck!

#5 Man In The Miura

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:13 AM

To your questions, IMHO:

a) kids at that age are drawn to the personality of the instructor and not the quality of instruction.  Your job is to find someone who has both, being great with kids probably the bigger challenge.

b) go with idividual instruction and then find other avenues of golf socialization.  All parents with kids learning golf face the same problen (golf can be lonely for a kid, especially girls), and the parents usually are eager to get kids together.  Make contacts!

c) the frequency of lessons depends on the frequency of practice.  You don't want another lesson when there hasn't been much or any practice since the last one.

But the BIGGEST thing is keeping golf FUN while remaining focused.  At a young age, it's probably still necessary to show how golf CAN be fun.  Your kids will soon be at an age for junior tournaments, and I highly recommend pursuing those.

My daughter started at about age 8 or 9, and is now as a high schooler and fully engrossed with the sport.  Giving kids the gift of golf is definitely worth it.  Good luck!


#6 KILLEDBYASHANKEDWEDGE

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:19 AM

Best thing you can do for them is get them on the putting green, often. Other swing mechanics will change as they grow older but the putting stroke will be there with them forever. Their instructor should concentrate on working with them from the hole , out.

#7 rogera13

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:29 AM

Just my opinion but its based on experience in a related situation. BE VERY, VERY VERY CAREFUL how much you push this on them. 6 and 7 could be a little young for a lot of formal instruction. You don't want them to loose the fun and enthusiasim. My son at age 6 showed incredible abilities at baseball. By 10 he was traveling the state playing for different teams in 14U divisions. In tournament play at age 11 on major league spring training fields he batted .800 with 3 homeruns on these fields. Lessons, work outs, games, travel by age 13 he came to me after a practice and said "dad, it's no fun.....I don't want to play baseball anymore" ...it broke my heart but baseball is no different than golf. To perform at a high level you must be driven. The drive was gone. He hasn't picked up a baseball since. Now at age 16 he did decide to go out for the high school golf team. Made varsity and is now signing up for a Junior tour that begins when the high school season is through. I support him 100% at this now. But he's older and now driven.

Just don't take the fun out of it!!! You and your children will regret it.

#8 semi

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 06:47 PM

Take note to that story above...it happens often. To add to it, I was joining a club but before, I had to play with a member to see what kind of person I was...during our round he ask me if I had any kids. I told him I had a young son starting to play. He told me about his grandson - in the teens starting to win tournaments, came home one day and said he's finished. Never picked up a club again. I've always remember that! This is a bit extreme but we use to even put a fishing rod in the bag and have a fish through the round (you have to be on the right kind of course to do that - we were lucky) - he loved the whole environment about being on the golf course and still does today. Be creative and keep it fun and fresh. I have never seen an indiviual lesson that has been fun for a young junior golfer...group lessons - yes.

#9 iteachgolf

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 07:47 PM

Get them excited about getting the ball in the hole and scoring.  Have them hit it as hard as they can.  Worry about coaching when they are 12ish

#10 dkothari

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 03:33 PM

Thanks, everyone. It's very helpful to have all the opinions and learn from people's experiences. I totally get it about pushing them too hard at this age and couldn't agree more. Our no. 1 rule in golf is to have fun and I've told my kids that if they're not having fun - to let me know and we'll stop it right now. I am fortunate in that I have a girl and a boy - they're only 15 months apart - and are both getting into the game together. So far - they really love it - and I have to force them off the range/putting greens. But it's still very early - so the novelty might wear off after a while.

I took them to a private lesson and they actually loved it - partly because the instructor really knew how to work with kids. He had all kinda of games - like "tac, tac, toe (is it toe, isn't it?)" putting, and closest to pin contests, etc. But the private lessons are a bit pricey so can't do them all the time. I think we'll work on practicing and them get a private lesson once every couple of months just to make sure there aren't any major faults with their swings.

Thanks for all the advice and I definetly appreciate your thoughts about being cautious regarding burning them out.


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#11 Titleistman1010

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 03:43 PM

View Postrogera13, on 05 October 2012 - 09:29 AM, said:

Just my opinion but its based on experience in a related situation. BE VERY, VERY VERY CAREFUL how much you push this on them. 6 and 7 could be a little young for a lot of formal instruction. You don't want them to loose the fun and enthusiasim. My son at age 6 showed incredible abilities at baseball. By 10 he was traveling the state playing for different teams in 14U divisions. In tournament play at age 11 on major league spring training fields he batted .800 with 3 homeruns on these fields. Lessons, work outs, games, travel by age 13 he came to me after a practice and said "dad, it's no fun.....I don't want to play baseball anymore" ...it broke my heart but baseball is no different than golf. To perform at a high level you must be driven. The drive was gone. He hasn't picked up a baseball since. Now at age 16 he did decide to go out for the high school golf team. Made varsity and is now signing up for a Junior tour that begins when the high school season is through. I support him 100% at this now. But he's older and now driven.

Just don't take the fun out of it!!! You and your children will regret it.
Wow, that sounds exactly what happened to me. From ages 8-12 years old I only took 4 months off from playing baseball and that was in the month of December. Definitely want to get a coach that has a lot of spunk and will let the kids have fun. I have also found that the new younger teachers are great for kids because they let them have fun. When they turn 9 you can start getting them more formal lessons but the key is for them to have fun.

#12 Hrocks

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 07:59 PM

View Postdkothari, on 06 October 2012 - 03:33 PM, said:

Thanks, everyone. It's very helpful to have all the opinions and learn from people's experiences. I totally get it about pushing them too hard at this age and couldn't agree more. Our no. 1 rule in golf is to have fun and I've told my kids that if they're not having fun - to let me know and we'll stop it right now. I am fortunate in that I have a girl and a boy - they're only 15 months apart - and are both getting into the game together. So far - they really love it - and I have to force them off the range/putting greens. But it's still very early - so the novelty might wear off after a while.

I took them to a private lesson and they actually loved it - partly because the instructor really knew how to work with kids. He had all kinda of games - like "tac, tac, toe (is it toe, isn't it?)" putting, and closest to pin contests, etc. But the private lessons are a bit pricey so can't do them all the time. I think we'll work on practicing and them get a private lesson once every couple of months just to make sure there aren't any major faults with their swings.

Thanks for all the advice and I definetly appreciate your thoughts about being cautious regarding burning them out.

I like the idea of getting them formal private lessons right off the bat.  When my guy was 3-1/2 I got him a USKG 9 iron with a training grip and a putter.  We just fooled around putting in the house and when he was four, I started taking him to a local track that supported juniors.  I would let him putt on a few holes, then on a few holes he would want to chip on and putt out.  We gradually worked our way back from the hole.  He had his first formal lesson at five.  It was more to get him the feel of turning and releasing the club.  In fact, I remember "Frank" (72 yr old PGA teaching pro with many awards) in one of the first lessons, pointing to a poster of a golfer's hands/arms releasing a driver and asking him if he could do that.  The little guy ran to the mat and started mimicing that release!  Little kids (if interested) are more than excited to acheive "simple" goal.  If only I had the same release...

By the time he was 5-1/2 we went to a weekend USKG golf school.  We had a blast, and he was hooked.  He started playing tournament golf later that season, and has successfully continued.  He's recently turned 12 and will continue his tournament play next season. (we live in the great lakes) Golf is probably the only situation that allows a parent to spend many hours with their kid, and the kid actually likes being around Dad for the whole day!  BTW, since about age seven, he has been his mother's golf mentor--think a kid doesn't like knowing more about something than his parents!!!  Keep it going and enjoy family golf vacations.  They are the best!  (PS.  Marriott's resorts have the best family/junior golf deals)

#13 Palmetto Golfer

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:09 PM

For the lessons, I think it is based on what the child wants and can handle.  For example, my 6 y/o loves golf and wants to play all of the time.  He probably has a lesson once a month and he enjoys it.  He is focused enough to handle a lesson and enjoys the learning process.  Now....my 4 y/o likes to play golf.  I DO NOT think he is right for lessons now or in the near future.  He is a different kid and just likes to knock the $%$@ out of the ball.  The 6 y/o can stay on the putting green for hours......the 4 y/o.....not so much.  You just need to decide what your child can handle.

I am glad it has been brought up in this thread b/c I am very worried about burn out with my 6 y/o.  He loves golf and wants to play every day.  He plays in US Kids tournaments and really enjoys it.  In my opinion, this is not sustainable.  I try to find new ways to keep if fun and fresh and just hope we can keep it there.  I have made him take some time off before when I thought it was too much.

Good luck and enjoy the ride.

Chris

#14 super7

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:37 AM

All kids are different, but if your kid has a passion for golf you need to feed that passion as much as possible. The most important thing you stated was that you yourself worked with them the most. this is the key to raising a successful kid in any endeavor. My son started around 5 and was golf crazy. So I took him to a very successful PGA instructor not so much for him but for me. I tried to learn as much about my sons swing and game as I could. We only went to a formal instructor every few months (sometimes 6 months apart) but when we did we rehashed the last session to see if we had made progress. I myself am a firm believer that the early years are the ones that you have the most impact, it's also where the child is easiest to mold. I advocate a strong start in the fundamentals grip, stance, posture and swing plane. Even at the very earliest stages, because old habits are hard to break. Some poeple will advise against getting to technical but it really is about how this information is presented. The child does not have to understand the concepts behind the instruction just the feel that doing it right produces. This is where you need to know your kid and mold your practice to their interest level. I have found that having fun for kids is just like adults, if you are struggling to hit the ball or control what the ball does you are not going to have fun at this game For long. I also recommend tournament play as early as possible this helps build drive and gives the child something to shoot for. It also gives you as a parent contacts with other parents of juniors, you can get advice about local and state pros that work well with  juniors.  and Let your kid play all sports and gravitate towards the one they Love the most. My son played all sports growing up but one by one he dropped them to spend more time in golf. He ended his junior career #1 in the country and won the Rolex AJGA Player of the Year honor. He excelled in golf because of his love for the game. I saw my job as the one to feed his passion, take him to watch College and PGA events, buy him the equipment he needed, encourage him and yes sometimes even push. Coaching your own kid can be a challenge it can also be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Feed their passion at every turn!!

#15 ump23

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 12:03 AM

then spend thousands fixing all their flaws they have devoloped over 6 years.  baseball..johnny im going to throw this baseball and you catch it.  well how daddy...well you'll figure out.  Swimming..im going to throw you in the poo.. but i dont know how to swim..you'll have fun you'll figure it.  Hockey..i want you to get that puck and shoot it in that goal..but i dont know how to skate. oh just go have fun you'l figure it out.  i want you to figure this math problem out..but i dont know how. just have fun you'll figure it.  some of people crack me up.  its a sport things need to be taught in order for a person to be succesfull at it and have FUN.  Who the !@#$ likes to suck at something and says oh thats fun. i realy do believe some of these people posting on my post and this one either don't have kids or have no idea about golf.


#16 semi

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 01:27 AM

View Postump23, on 18 November 2012 - 12:03 AM, said:

then spend thousands fixing all their flaws they have devoloped over 6 years.  baseball..johnny im going to throw this baseball and you catch it.  well how daddy...well you'll figure out.  Swimming..im going to throw you in the poo.. but i dont know how to swim..you'll have fun you'll figure it.  Hockey..i want you to get that puck and shoot it in that goal..but i dont know how to skate. oh just go have fun you'l figure it out.  i want you to figure this math problem out..but i dont know how. just have fun you'll figure it.  some of people crack me up.  its a sport things need to be taught in order for a person to be succesfull at it and have FUN.  Who the !@#$ likes to suck at something and says oh thats fun. i realy do believe some of these people posting on my post and this one either don't have kids or have no idea about golf.

Ok - here's the best advice\suggestion I can give...read two books: Playing Through & The Talent Code.  I don't know what else you are expecting from the replies...everyone has different experiences and they're telling you about them. It's not like there's and easy way or magical formula - it takes hours and hours of dedication and hard work. I'm in my 50's and I tell people that I have spent a good percentage of my life with my son on the golf course and loved every minute of it. Other people do it differently. I do it this way because we both enjoy it and it works - I really don't care what anyone else thinks...

Just do it...take him to lessons. Hopefully you'll find someone good and the rest will be history. I know one thing...you have a long road ahead! One more thing, keep him flexible especially when he gets older. It's so important and makes a huge difference. You probably can do that now safely - check it out.

#17 golfdu

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 01:32 AM

Go see Nick Clearwater, works with the best, and he's in Chicago! :)

#18 Noles

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:30 AM

View Postump23, on 18 November 2012 - 12:03 AM, said:

then spend thousands fixing all their flaws they have devoloped over 6 years.  baseball..johnny im going to throw this baseball and you catch it.  well how daddy...well you'll figure out.  Swimming..im going to throw you in the poo.. but i dont know how to swim..you'll have fun you'll figure it.  Hockey..i want you to get that puck and shoot it in that goal..but i dont know how to skate. oh just go have fun you'l figure it out.  i want you to figure this math problem out..but i dont know how. just have fun you'll figure it.  some of people crack me up.  its a sport things need to be taught in order for a person to be succesfull at it and have FUN.  Who the !@#$ likes to suck at something and says oh thats fun. i realy do believe some of these people posting on my post and this one either don't have kids or have no idea about golf.
This line of thinking is what made me start taking my son for lessons.  He is coached and taught in every other sport he does, why not golf?  For us, the practicing after the lesson is fun.  This summer, my son would go and practice 4-5 days a week.  He and I made practicing a fun thing.  Sometimes the fun was how we practiced, sometimes it was what we did afterwards like getting a meal together and watching football games in the restaurant.  You know your child better than anyone.  Use your head and your instinct to find the best balance of practice and fun.

#19 dpb5031

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 03:17 PM

So much depends on the individual kid.  Some kids have the attention span and the physical strength and coordination to swing a golf club at 6 years old, others might not be ready until they are 8 or 9.  I had a lot of success teaching my daughter myself when she was young.  I taught her how to grip it properly and how to stand in the proper set-up posture.  From there I would guide her to the top-of-backswing position, let go, and tell her to hit it from there.  In very short order whe had a nice little gof swing.  If the club is gripped properly and the basic set-up angles are sound, most kids will intuitively swing the club quite nicely with no more than a basic demonstration of the motion and being shown how they should finish on their left side (for a righty).

#20 jollysammy

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:09 PM

We found that large group lessons or golf camps tended to be light on golf and heavy on socializing and goofing around.  For the cost of these camps my son found that an occasional private lesson and just playing on the course taught him more.

Many of his friends went to golf camp at a cost of about $300-500.  My son has a Youth on Course card that allows him to play for $5 at many of the area 18 hole courses.  From 9 on he played a few junior tournaments, maybe a lesson or 2 and then just played twice a week at different 18 or 9 hole courses.  He's 12 now and has a 12 hdcp.

Look into the US Kids golf programs for tournaments, there you will find many parents who can recommend coaches, instructors etc.


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