From getting them active, to teaching them good manners, to preparing them for their future professional lives, there are loads of fantastic reasons to introduce your little ones to the game.
By Chris Johnston
Over the last few years, there has been a concerted and committed focus on increasing the number of youngsters – both boys and girls – playing golf regularly. That stands to reason. Kids, after all, are the future of the game. If they don’t show an interest in it, how is the sport ever going to survive?
However, as is so often the way, the intentions are great in principle but, in reality, not as straightforward as they seem. There are lots of reasons why people wouldn’t introduce their kids to golf and, quite often, those reasons are rooted in unfortunate misconceptions. Plus, there’s the added issue of ensuring that your children have a fun and positive first experience of the game that keeps them interested at a time when there are more leisure activities than ever competing for their attention. So, no, it’s not easy – but that’s why we’re here to help. We’ve identified
nine reasons to get your children playing, dispelling some long-standing myths about the game along the way…
1. It gets them out in the fresh air
It is reckoned that as many as eight in every ten British households has a video games console, such as a PlayStation or an Xbox. Every hour that kids spend on those is an hour less exercise they could be doing. With recent statistics demonstrating that nearly a third of all British children aged two to 15 are obese, clearly something needs to be done. Golf, then, is a great option, particularly because you don’t need a high level of base fitness to start (which can make some other, more anaerobically intense sports intimidating at first). The average 18-hole round requires you cover between four and five miles on foot, burning approximately 1,500 calories in the process. What’s more, the golf swing is one of the few athletic movements that engages every major muscle group in the body, which brings obvious benefits, too.
2. It’s a game for all the family
If you’re looking for a sport that you can with your own parents as well as your kids, then golf is the answer. Young and old alike can compete on equal terms with one another – you can’t say that for many other sports. Harburn Golf Club in the Lothians even offers special offers on family memberships and, consequently, has what it describes as a ‘thriving junior membership’.
3. It instils good values
Being a self-officiating game, golf demands honesty and integrity from those who play it. Additionally, it helps develop problem-solving skills and teaches the importance of good sportsmanship. These are important lessons that will stand your kids in good stead as they go through life.
4. It develops inter-personal skills
Several hours on the course in the company of other people – often people you’ve never met before – forces you to be sociable. So, any time spent playing golf will help your little ones to develop more than a sound swing.
5. It’s more affordable than you think
There’s a perception that, relative to other sports, the start-up costs in golf are quite high. Okay, so there’s an element of truth in that – but, if you are prepared to shop around, there are plenty of good deals out there. That’s particularly true when it comes to access to golf courses. There are some sensational deals to be had for juniors if you’re prepared to shop around. Take Newmachar, for example. Junior memberships there start from only £35 per year and include a free lesson with a PGA pro. Another north east club, Murcar Links, is going a step further, offering free junior memberships in 2017 for those aged 16 and under, whilst Kilspindie Golf Club in East Lothian only charges £25 for year-round links golf for juniors. For those in the west of Scotland, Cathcart Castle’s junior membership is £200 for the year but that comes with the added incentive of discounts on range balls at nearby ranges, free golf on several other west of Scotland courses, and reduced rates at hundreds more. The point being? There’s great value to be had if you commit to looking for it.
6. There’s equipment tailored specifically for them
Gone are the days of cut-down 7-irons or plastic clubs. These days, there’s lots of junior-specific equipment out there. The pick of the bunch is, without question, made by Golphin. A multi award-winning Scottish company, Golphin has engineered clubs specifically tailored for junior golfers, focussing on beginners aged between three and 12. What’s more, as well as being made for kids, Golphin’s product line is also exceptionally affordable.
7. Anyone can play
Golfers come in all different shapes and sizes; you don’t necessarily need to be tall, slim, strong, lean or muscular to take part. So, whether your child has gone through an early growth spurt or is a late developer, they can play golf on largely equal terms to all of their friends.
8. It’s safe and structured
Most golf clubs have junior sections run by a team of dedicated, trained volunteers, so you can rest assured your children will be well looked after and, importantly, given the proper coaching. For example, Prestonfield’s junior programme is run by its award-winning coordinator Liz Taylor. All of its coaches have undertaken appropriate child protection training and golf equipment, including clubs and balls, is provided. All your child needs to participate is warm, comfortable clothes and trainers. Niddry Castle, meanwhile, has a six-hole course specifically for children, with year-round tuition provided every Saturday. Likewise Anstruther Golf Club in Fife delivers coaching every Monday between 4pm and 6pm. At £15 for a five-week block, it is exceptional value, too. The attitude of most clubs to juniors is perhaps best summed up by Alloa, which has a thriving kids’ section. A club spokesperson told Scottish Club Golfer: “We fully understand that introducing golf to kids will introduce them to a life-long sport and also help to ensure the future of the game. We would like to continue to expand our junior golf section so we would encourage anyone who has a child that wants to play come along and get involved.”
9 It’s fun!
This is the single most important reason to get your kids playing golf. Yes, it can frustrating when you don’t hit the shot you’d planned to, or when you don’t quite hole a putt – but that’s all part of what makes it such a fun and addictive game. When all is said and done, there are few things that compares to the feeling of flushing a shot. Give your kids that feeling and they’ll be hooked for life. We can pretty much guarantee it.