Now it’s the fun part – taking your kids on the golf course. If you’re like most parents, you can’t wait to see your kids play golf on the course instead of just practice on the range.
At this point, hopefully you’ve helped them establish a solid foundation and are ready to take their skills to the course. More than likely you’ve gotten golf lessons for your child.
If they’ve never swung a club yet, hold off and take them to the driving range or junior golf camp first. This will help them build confidence and get them ready for the actual golf course.
But if they’re hitting it well enough and eager to get out on the course, we have some tips to make the most of it.
To give them the best chances of enjoying golf and making memories, you need to be strategic in taking your kids to the course. The last thing you want is for them to feel nervous, uncomfortable, or any other negative emotion when they’re just starting out.
Instead, you want to make it a positive, fun experience that they will want to tell their friends about. Use these strategies to make the most of your first golf outings together with your kids.
Now that you’re ready to play golf with your kids, the first thing you need to do is take them at the right time. You want to find a good time when it’s not super busy and they won’t interrupt the pace of play for everyone else. This will usually lead to frustration from other golfers and a not so enjoyable experience for your kids.
Instead, make sure that you take them at non-peak hours. Avoid going early on the weekends, before men/women/twilight leagues, or on packed holidays where everyone wants out.
Avoiding crowds will make it less stressful for you and also make them more comfortable. All in all, a better experience for everyone at the course.
In general, one of the best times to go are weekday afternoons. You can walk or ride, without a ton of groups pressuring you, and go at your own pace.
Also, make sure to check around at your local golf courses or country club for junior specific hours. As golf continues to grow, more and more courses are making specific times just for junior golfers.
Once you’re ready to play golf with your kid(s), the second thing to think about is the course itself. To give them the best chances to succeed, start them out on a flat, short, easy golf course. Preferably an executive or “short course” so that it’s much more forgiving and straightforward.
You don’t want to take your junior to a long, hilly course with tons of hazards or tough greens. As I’m sure you know from past experience, this is frustrating and usually disheartening playing a course above your abilities, especially as a beginner.
Start slow and work your way up to more challenging golf courses. Keep incentivizing them to continue practicing/playing, and promise to take them to better or more challenging courses as they continue to improve.
If there aren’t any par 3 or short courses nearby, instead make your own tee box 100 or so yards from the green. If they’re a little older in age and hitting it well, take it back to 150 yards. Or, if they’re younger, move it up between 50-75 yards.
Even if you do follow the first few strategies, let’s not forget that golf is on the rise. After the uncertainties of 2020, golf is one of the sports that grew… at a dramatic pace. While it’s great for the game, that means more and more people are at the range and golf course.
So if you’re taking your child golfing, you might have to let people play through from time to time. This will ensure the group behind you doesn’t get frustrated, call into the pro shop, or get agitated and hit up on your group.
If you’re letting too many groups come through, sometimes you should just pick up. If you do this, just make sure to affirm to your child it’s because other groups play fast or are very skilled. Don’t ever make them feel bad and instead provide tons of encouragement for their golf journey.
As you golf with your kids, never forget the top rule of golfing with them – make it fun! Here are some easy ways to do it:
- Let them drive the cart. Half the fun of golfing as a kid is getting to drive the cart. Sure, it’s “frowned upon” by a lot of courses, but it can make a kid’s day. Make sure you’re supervising them at all times and do it away from other groups or the clubhouse.
- Invest in junior golf accessories. To make golf as much fun as possible, buy them some gear that they will love. Some good examples include emoji golf balls, a bright-colored Rickie Fowler style hat, or FootJoy golf gloves for kids.
- Make fun bets. To keep their head in the game, spice it up by adding in challenges or bets. Maybe hit a drive past a certain tree and they get a dollar. Or drain a putt, they get a special dessert after the round.
- Let them take breaks. Golf is mentally and physically taxing, whether you’re an adult or kid. Sometimes you should let them take a break for a hole or two so they don’t get burnt out. Let them ride in the cart and watch you play a few holes until they’re ready to do it again.
- Throw it out of the sand. Hitting out of the sand isn’t easy for most beginners or juniors. Instead of making them try, have them run in, throw it out, and show them how to rake a bunker.
- Celebrate afterward. Once the round is complete, head to the clubhouse or their favorite restaurant for a meal. This is a great time to recap the round and compliment their good shots, ask them what they learned, and share your golf knowledge.
For more tips on how to get your kid excited about golf, go to our full article on How to Get Kids into Golf.
One of the biggest complaints among people who are just starting out is how long golf takes. A full round of 18 holes and warming up can easily take five plus hours. For kids, that’s a long time to stay focused and engaged.
Even nine holes can feel like an eternity to them as well. When golfing with your kids, don’t force them to keep playing if they are clearly too tired or need a break. Start by playing 1-2 holes, then work your way up to nine holes.
Once they’ve played nine holes consistently, float the idea of a full round and see how they feel. Remember, if they say yes but get tired mid round, it’s okay to have them pick it up until they’re feeling ready to tee it back up.
One of the best things my family ever did when I started playing golf is letting me tee it up wherever I was on the course. Teeing the golf ball up makes it so much easier to make consistent contact with any club in the bag.
After they hit their tee shot, encourage them to tee up other shots too. This will help build their confidence as they hit the ball more consistently. Once they get to that level, encourage them to try hitting from the fairway or rough, as they will need to learn eventually.
It feels like the number one question in golf is, “What did you shoot?”
It’s like the badge of honor among golfers. While that’s fine when you’re out for your buddies, it’s not the best way to start with your kids.
Instead, make it all about having fun – not the score! As kids are learning the game they’re bound to hit duffs, shanks, tops, and everything in between. Heck, we’ve all been there ourselves too.
Once they’re at a level of consistency, then you can start to keep score. But don’t let them associate fun only when playing good.
Another option is to invent a new scoring system. Instead of basing their score purely on strokes, instead use a 1-3 point scoring system.
One is for a hole that wasn’t the best and needs some improvement. A two is for a “normal” type of performance on the hole. And a three is for a great shot and/or great overall hole.
As one of my favorite golf coaches used to say, “You are not your score.” Make it a point to constantly remind your kids of this lesson so they continue to play this great game.
Another way to play golf with your kids is to find a tournament that is made for parents and their juniors. Of course, make sure they’re ready for this type of event, but it’s a great way to get them excited about the game. They usually have different age divisions and rules to make it more friendly for junior players.
Or, if you can’t find an event, tee it up with another parent and their junior golfer. Let the adults hit the drives and maybe second shots (if it’s a long course) and let the juniors chip and putt.
This is a fun way to have some competition, but not too much pressure on the junior. It’s also a good way to get their friends involved, which will make them more likely to want to play more in the future.
Or, you could also do team events with just you two in a scramble or shamble format. This will help with pace of play, teach them alternate formats, and also make it more enjoyable for your kid too.
I know this is hard for some golfers to hear, but when golfing with kids, ignore your game. This isn’t the time to try and break the course record and make a handful of birdies. This experience is all about them, not you!
Don’t get me wrong, you should play with them, as they will probably love watching you swing. But that doesn’t mean you should try to tip it out and play serious golf.
Instead, hit a few shots to show them what the objective is, point out hazards, and provide tons of encouragement.
The final tip for playing golf with your kids is to reward them for good behavior. Whether it’s repairing a ball mark, having them fill the sand, speaking politely to other golfers, or something else. This positive reinforcement will make them excited to keep golfing and learn proper golf etiquette.
Want even more tips on having fun with your kids on the golf course? Here are four more epic strategies to help you out.
As I’ve said before, kids learn from watching you as much as anything you might tell them. If you want to make them feel more comfortable on the golf course, take them with you for a normal round. Just having them ride in the cart, see you warm up, hit shots on the course, and everything else will get them excited when it’s their turn.
While taking your kids to the golf course is fun, don’t forget you can make it feel like you’re on the course during practice. Here are some easy ways to save money on tee times and also make practicing much more effective.
One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways is putting or chipping green. On the putting green, challenge your junior to a putting competition with short putts or lagging long putts.
To make it even more fun, add in some chipping games as well. Or, see if they can get it up and down with chipping and putting.
On the driving range, you can also have some friendly target practice with your junior too. Find a target that they can reach and try to beat them with a specific club in the bag.
If they don’t have any short range target for your junior, I would suggest investing in a set of pop up chipping buckets. These are cheap, easy to store, and give your junior something to aim for on the range or chipping green.
While I’m all for getting your kids to the course, we all know life gets busy with a family! But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some golf fun at home, either.
You can set this up outside, under a patio, a garage, or even a spare bedroom. Having this at home practice setup will allow them to practice even if you can’t take them to the course as much as you would like.
Another option is to opt for some chipping and pitching buckets. This will help them hone their short game skills, even if they only have 10-15 minutes. Or, if you have a pool, you can also make it fun for the whole family with a floating golf green.
The last option is to buy an indoor putting green or putting mat. This will help them work on their putting even if the weather doesn’t allow them to get outside and practice or play.
Lastly, make sure that you’re patient to make it the most enjoyable experience for everyone.
As I’m sure you can remember in your early golf days, it’s challenging to play this crazy game. Heck, it’s still challenging now even if you’re an established player. But it’s incrementally harder as a kid but as a parent, it’s up to you to stay patient and provide tons of support.
If you’re tired, stressed, or having an off day, reschedule the golf outing. Otherwise, you might ruin their experience on the course and make it less likely for them to play in the future.
As Kris Wilson said, “The first thing golf teaches is humility, the second; empathy, and the third is patience.”
For some general golf tips for kids, go here.
Finally, make sure that their first few outings to the golf course are an overall awesome experience. The more fun they have, the more they will want to play as a kid (and hopefully for a long time after).
But it all starts by getting them to the range and building a swing first and foremost. Once they can consistently hit the ball, use these 14 strategies to help them on the golf course.
Also, don’t forget to document your experience with plenty of pictures and videos. You never know, you might just have the next child prodigy on your hands too!