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The Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Golfing With Your Kids

Aug 17, 2007
Golfing with your kids is a lot different than golfing with adults, obviously.

Your kids have a shorter attention span, and they are also shorter than your friends.

Your kids have to be supervised the whole time, whereas your friends do not (usually).

Your kids sometimes act like they are being tortured just by being on the golf course, whereas your friends do not (usually).

It would be so much more fun if your kids acted like they were having fun rather than being tortured when you are out golfing with them. It be even better if they looked forward to going and told all their friends how much fun golfing is, right?

I have spent a lot of time with kids on golf courses over the last 15 years, and I have learned by trial and error what works and what does not. Let me share with you seven common mistakes I have made that you should avoid when playing golf with kids:

Mistake #1: Not Preparing Mentally

You want to be in the best mood possible for your sake and the kids. Do whatever it takes to get in a good mood before you go. Think happy thoughts, leave work and bills behind, stop at their favorite fast food place on the way there, whatever it takes. If you are not in a good mood, they will know it and it will affect the enjoyment for all.

Mistake #2: Not Preparing the Equipment

The last thing you and your kids want to be doing on the course is fumbling around the golf bags looking for golf balls, tees, ball markers, etc. Take some time before you go to get all of the bags (including yours) set up with everything they will need, including a full water bottle or sport drink and snack. Make sure each person knows where these things are before you leave.

Mistake #3: Going at a Crowded Time

As mistakes go, this one is not so bad. It can happen regardless of planning. Just do your best to go on off times (the pro shop can suggest the best times to golf with kids). The less waiting you have to do on tee boxes, the less opportunity for distraction and boredom.

Mistake #4: Making Too Many Rules

There are many, many rules of golf, most of which we do not know and do not think about. Kids need to learn the rules, but not all at once. Start off with just the basics: no running on the green, do not hit until I say you can, be quiet when others are hitting, do not lay your clubs on the green. After a few trips, these things will become automatic and you can begin teaching them how to take proper relief and what the different color markers mean. You will be pleasantly surprised when, all of a sudden, you all play a round of golf and everything just clicks. Let me tell you it is marvelous!

Mistake #5: Yelling When They Make a Mistake

Kids are going to get angry and wild and make mistakes on the course, after all they are kids. In fact they are going to do things you never even dreamed of: throwing golf balls at each other, slamming clubs on the ground, hitting when someone is in front of them, climbing trees, etc. While it is tempting to yell at them to stop, I have found it to be much more effective to walk over to the offender and tell them the next time you do that we are all going to have to leave. This adds a little peer group pressure to the equation and works quite well. If the behavior continues, do not be shy about following through with your threat and taking everyone home. It just might turn out to be a great lesson for them all to learn, and pay great dividends in the future.

Mistake #6: Forgetting the Kids at the Course (Just Kidding). Let us call this one Taking too Much Time and Getting Stressed Out

I have always been a fan of prompt play. Nothing gets to me quicker than continually waiting on the group in front, or worse, watching the group behind leaning on their clubs waiting for a slow person in my group. When I first started playing golf with my kids and their friends, I would obsess over our pace of play - constantly looking back to make sure we were not holding anyone up. It really robbed me of a lot of the enjoyment I should have been experiencing with kids on the course. The next three ideas sum up the solutions I have found to ease this stress and increase the level of enjoyment for everyone.

Teach your kids that their place on the course is behind the group in front of them, not in front of the group behind them.

Teach your kids how to play ready golf to catch up to the group in front, i.e., it is OK to hit when you are ready, as long as no one is in front of you.

Teach your kids how to let the group behind play through. Make sure to demonstrate the proper etiquette, telling the group playing through to have a great round! What if you have to let more than one group play through? So what, you are out here to have fun, and the longer time spent having fun the better, right?

Mistake #7: Staying Too Long

This one takes a little observation and feel, kind of like the game of golf itself. If they are just getting a little tired, a few words of encouragement from you may work fine to get them through the last few holes. If, on the other hand, their fatigue is affecting their interaction with others (name calling, curt, angry responses to simple comments, etc.), maybe it is time to head for the car. You do not have to blame stopping on them, which will make them feel bad. You can say you are getting tired and you sure could use a cold drink. This way they do not feel like they were on the Bataan Death March and will remember a good time, which is critical in your quest to get them interested in golf.

Playing golf with kids is definitely different than playing golf with your friends, but it can be a rewarding experience. Their youthful energy and natural exuberance can even wear off on you, bringing a whole new level of fun to your own game!
About the Author
How do you find the right golf clubs for three boys, ages 5, 7 and 9, at a decent price? Answering this question led Rick Fletcher and his wife Sandi to open their own on-line store, All Kids Golf Clubs, in 1999. With experience that can only come from custom building over 20,000 clubs for kids across the country, they truly know how to find the best in junior golf equipment.
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