Developing junior golf is of paramount importance
Having taught golf for over two decades, the most satisfying part has been seeing the growth of junior golf in the country. It is always said that juniors are our future. I’ve seen at least three generations of juniors grow up to be world beaters in golf, excel in board rooms and have seen how playing golf has had a positive influence on their personalities.
Many parents enrol their children to learn golf with the purpose of ‘becoming Tiger Woods’…which is fine. However, all those who take up the game, need not play professionally in the future.
Firstly, it is a sport to be enjoyed. Every junior, like in other spheres of life, must try to be the best he can in golf; and the decision to whether play professionally or not, is one to be taken later. There is plenty to be done and achieved along the way.
You can set yourself goals – short-term and long-term – and try to achieve them. To measure success, one must first follow the process and put in the effort required. I can tell you with experience that results will follow. The golf swing is ever evolving, and one should constantly strive to get better. The more you practice, the better you get. And the more experience you gain by playing, the better decisions you make on the golf course.
There is another important point we must not miss. At an early age, we must allow children to play multiple sports. It develops their motor skills and encourages overall athletic development. Given that today’s generation spends much of their time indoors, hooked to their screens, parents must create more opportunities for outdoor play. I sometimes wonder if today’s kids get enough chances to experience playing cricket in their driveways like we used to in the past.
As juniors grow taller, their golf swings change. It is important to get them the right coaching if they are to pursue golf. It is a technical game with numerous facets to master. A continuous expert eye over them is vital. Good junior programs are now easy to find and enrol in. Most clubs and academies have a well-structured program and look after the juniors.
Children like to learn in groups as they enjoy more. It will be good to find the right age/ability mix when enrolling them in such groups. Individual coaching can be looked at later in their development as and when the need arises. We must continue to create an environment in which they enjoy the learning process to bring out the best in them.
In the next article, we will speak more on the development of an elite junior and how the junior-parent-teacher relationship can be balanced to give them the best chance at excelling.
(The author has been a golf professional for over 20 years)