People often ask what the favorite aspect of my job is. One of the driving reasons that I became a golf professional in the first place was the avenue it gave me to help young people develop all of the wonderful traits of a golfer: respect for rules and others, etiquette, politeness and honesty. Junior golf is the lifeblood of the future of the game.
How should you start a junior golfer? Make sure that he or she understands this game is fun. I am a real big fan of the integrity and rules of the game, but when you start a youngster out early, fun is the name of the game. Introduce competition gradually and make sure they only compete against themselves. Try making a game of everything; straighter shot than the last one, one fewer putt than the last green, play this hole a little faster than the last one. The early rounds or holes should be about teaching the child to improve each area.
Do not fall into the trap of becoming your new playing partner's swing coach. Children can figure it out pretty rapidly. A few key things: swing the club to the target, keep your feet flat on the ground and, when putting, roll the ball just over the edge of the hole. These simple rules seem to make a lot of sense to youngsters and the game is much less confusing for them.
Wait on the integrity and rules. Just have fun. There is no better golfing partner than a young person just starting out. It will try your patience, test your sanity and make your heart swell. Those three things will probably happen on the first hole played. Remember, it is not a round of golf; rather it is a memory in the making.
I have been fortunate enough to encounter some wonderfully talented young men and women in my career, but the talent is not really what we are after. Building junior golf in this area is nothing more than a commitment to grow the enthusiasm of each and every young person interested in the game of golf. Some would say it is a daunting challenge, I would say that I welcome the opportunity. I still remember the first round of golf I played as a youngster, and it is my fondest memory in the game to date. I did not play well, but I played with my father, and the day was wonderful. I want to help any and all to create new wonderful memories. To that end, if anyone knows of young person interested in the game of golf, I welcome the opportunity.