Parents, if you are looking for a multi-beneficial sport to get your kids involved in, golf just may be your answer.
Although golf is usually thought of as an adult sport, there are many reasons to get your kids on the course. Besides being fun, golf teaches kids skills that they can use for the rest of their lives, such as focus, precision, patience, honesty, healthy competition, decision making and integrity. In addition, with the sunshine and rolling greens, it can be a great day of one-on-one time with your child.
However, golf does not come without its challenges, so the number one thing recommended to parents before golfing with a child is to set realistic expectations. In other words, don't bite off more than your child can chew.
Children at a young age do not (and should not) know about the frustrations that can go along with golf; it should be all about the fun. If a child has a bad experience with you while golfing, they probably won't be fired up to try it again so try a light approach.
Young kids have a short attention span so resist the urge to spend five minutes on that perfect grip. Speak in their terms and don't worry too much about technique. Most important, always take time to talk to them about safety. At the driving range, they should be in the stall in front of you not behind -- keep them in your line of sight at all times. Show them where to stand when someone is teeing off don't just tell them.
It is not recommend trying to play nine holes with your child until you've spent some time at the driving range and practice green. Turn these moments into fun games with putting and chipping contests. Celebrate small successes. Kids love being praised and by all means do not criticize them.
When you do attempt to get some holes in, take a cart. For most kids, the golf cart is just as fun as the sport itself. Bring some of their favorite snacks and drinks to help sustain energy.
Even with younger children, golf can be a family activity as long as it stays enjoyable. When you feel your patience waning and junior is whining, it may be time to head back to the clubhouse for an ice cream.
Golf is also great way for parents to connect with teens; common interests and dedicated together time has a way of creating a bond that endures off the course.
Golf has several other advantages for teens: playing 18 holes on the course means you are walking at least four miles. Golf also teaches teens integrity and sportsmanship; players are expected to call penalties on themselves, and keep their own score. The teen years are also the time to assess whether your child has the potential to take the sport to another level. College golfers are taken more seriously when it comes to all collegiate competition, therefore if your child has the right experience, there may be a college career or even a scholarship in store.
In addition, many lifelong friendships and business alliances have been formed on the golf course; which is important for young adults to recognize and embrace.
Golf is a sport that anyone can begin at any age and can be played as long as physically possible. So parents, get your boys and girls involved in great the sport of golf, it's just a swing away!
Written by Breanna Doan, Central Michigan University Intern for 4-Seasons Golf and Bob Krause Golf