Golf is meant to be fun, but you wouldn't know it by the scowls you sometimes see after someone hooks the ball into the deep rough, misses a putt or ends up in a bunker. Children often learn more from watching adults' behavior than by what they say. Keep the game fun and it will be fun for your child.
Equipment, Rules and Etiquette
Finding equipment tailored to the size of the junior golfer is an important first step when introducing the game to a child. Junior-size golf clubs and shoes are available in many different lengths and sizes. Sneakers are also acceptable. Courtesy is part of golf and sets it apart from most other sports. Teach the child to observe some basic rules of golf etiquette: being quiet when others are putting, congratulating a player for a well-played shot and not overreacting to a bad shot.
Learn Basic Skills
Putting is easier to learn than driving. Start by teaching your child how to putt from a distance of a few feet. The child can learn to putt indoors on a carpet or on artificial grass mat, outside on the lawn or on a practice green. Increase the length of the putts gradually as the child's skill improves. The idea is to keep the game fun by successfully sinking the ball. Add chipping, then short irons to the practice routine as both are easier to use than woods. Turn practice rounds into games to keep the child's attention. For example, a child can play "round the world" by placing the balls in a circle around the hole and putting each one into the cup. Remember to praise your child for her good putts.
Consider investing in group golf lessons for your child. Children are used to learning new skills in a group. They do it everyday in school. Golf lessons are offered at public, private and municipal courses. Children are grouped by age and ability so no child feels self-conscious. If your child is more serious about the game, consider individual lessons, which are far more costly. The PGA, LPGA and USGA also offer junior golf programs for children.
A full round of 18 holes is too much for a child just beginning to play golf. If your child hits the ball 50 yards off the tee and you hit it 200 to 250 yards, your child will hit many more shots than you do just to finish a hole. Start with a three-hole round on an executive length course and gradually increase the number of holes until he can play nine holes easily.
Establish Junior Par
Score your child's round based on the junior par system established by the USGA. The par on a hole changes based on its yardage and the playing ability of the child. For example, a 375-yard hole might be a par 8 for a beginning golfer or a par 6 for an intermediate golfer. This scoring system keeps the chances of shooting a good score within a child's range. Make special scorecards for your child by adjusting the course's scorecard for junior par.