I’ll be the first to admit, as a young professional in the business I still have a lot I need to learn about instruction. If there’s one thing I do know… It’s how to have FUN with the kids and get them HOOKED on golf. Here are a few of my “secret weapons” to captivate an audience of junior golfers. If you follow me on social media, this may be old news. I love to contribute and appreciate the social network of professionals that share their ideas and best practices. If you haven’t seen these ideas yet, I promise they will add value to your program and increase participation immediately.
Now, let’s go out there and GROW GOLF!
#1 — Set the Stage
When working with junior golfers, it’s important to create an environment that is exciting, challenging and visually pleasing. I use many props to get the kids energized about the task at hand. Setting and cleaning up for junior golf can sometimes take as much time as the program itself. When selecting props, I like to make them colorful, plentiful and feed-back inducing (for example the acoustics when you hit the ball into a trash can). The goal is to find things that you wouldn’t normally see at a golf course. Bring on the PLAY TIME!
Here are a few must haves that you may want to put on your wish list:
Do It Yourself:
- Pool Noodles
- Kiddie Pools
- Metal Trash Cans and Range Baskets
- string or thin caution tape
- spray paint
- safety cones
- inflatable blow-ups
- Hula Hoops
- Posters with Characters or Coaches Faces on them
- variety of balls (whiffle, tennis, all sports, foam)
Top Tools for Teachers:
- USKG Yard Clubs, Light Speed Trainers and Fit Stick- www.uskidsgolf.com
- Birdie Balls and Birdie Ball Mats, Inflatable Golf Targets- www.birdieball.com
- My Mini Golf- www.startingtimegolf.com
- Convert-A-Hole- www.convertahole.com
- P.E. Equipment- 1. www.ssww.com
- Birdee Golf- www.facebook.com/BirdeeGolf
- T Golf- www.tgolf.com
- Snag Golf –www.snaggolf.com
- Animal Bag Covers- www.minizoogolf.com
- Glow Golf Supplies
#2 Have a Blast
Whenever I am in doubt as to if a child is having fun, I immediately call in for backup. Water balloons are my number one secret weapons when working with kids. It’s simple: The objective is to make the biggest splash possible. Not only is this fun, it’ an effective way to train by encouraging the kids to swing through impact while accelerating to the finish. For youngsters, it can be challenging to hit a solid golf shot. With water balloons kids can achieve success and the feeling of accomplishment at any age or ability level.
Here are a few of the kid’s favorite things to explode!
- Baby Powder
- Soda Bottles
Whatever it is, if you can explode it… they will love it.
Here is an explosion challenge for you to try:
It’s called “Shave a little off the Top”
Blow up a giant water balloon (use a real balloon instead of a water balloon) then spray shaving cream on the balloon, lastly place a golf ball like it’s a cherry on top! The goal is to hit the ball off the top without popping the balloon. Good Luck!
#3 Game On!
It is a requirement for all kids in my program to learn the junior golf song that I created which can be found on YouTube. While focusing only on the most basic fundamentals we use games to allow kids to explore and learn, giving them the freedom to find their natural motion.
Top Resources for Great Games:
- LPGA Girls Golf Teaching Playbook
- *USKG Game Guide- USKG Certification is a MUST for all junior coaches
- Golf Scrimmages- by Trent Wearner (Great for Older players)
- TPI Junior Level 2- This is a wonderful training program with a great manual
- Golf’s Missing Link- 101 Games –by Dennis Sweeney and Matthew Kluck
- Vision 54- Card Game/App for Phone
Here’s one of our favorite on-course games that I created. Teleport Golf is a game where you designate an area in the fairway with cones and string; this symbolizes a “teleporting station”. If the kids hit their ball through the designated area, they are able to “teleport through time” up to the next designated teleporting station up by the green. The kids are allowed to hit a shot backwards if they miss the teleporting station. Teleport Golf allows the kids to play a golf course that is suitably “scaled” to a shorter yardage giving them the opportunity to shoot lower scores. Making up games can be a fantastic way to generate interest and fuel creativity amongst junior golfers.
I hope you were able to pick up a tip or two that you can incorporate into your junior golf program. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I look forward to seeing everyone at the LPGA Teaching and Coaching summit in San Antonio.