As a former golf professional and instructor, I have always had a passion for teaching others the game of golf. When I was teaching, I spent a lot of time teaching young kids the game. I really enjoyed teach kids because unlike adults, they rarely had bad tendencies engrained from years of swinging a club incorrectly. Kids can easily be molded into solid swingers with the right clubs, and the right instruction. For my lessons, I always liked to start to on the putting green. This is where the game ends for most people, but when you’re learning the game, this should be where it begins. The putting stroke is a fundamental element of the game that if taught correctly can then translating into a solid chipping stroke, then up to the full swing.
In this post we’ll walk through a putting lesson plan for kids, and more or less how it should be run. I advise all you parents out there to use this to help get your kids into the game.
Try to keep this part short, but overall it’s nice to give your kids a fuller understanding of the game. Tell them things like:
- Golf was invented in Scotland 300 years ago, and is played around the world.
- The game is played on a golf course with golf clubs and golf balls.
- In the game you hit longer shots in the air, and roll shorter ones into a cup.
- the object of the game is to get the ball in the hole in as few hits as possible.
Again, another thing to keep short, but it really is one of the most important parts of your lesson as it will help set expectations for behaviour on the course:
- Golf is a quiet game, there should be no loud noises.
- Never Run.
- Never swing a club when others are near you.
- Never hit balls at other people.
- When putting, the putter never goes higher than your waist.
The best putters for kids, are ones that are built for kids. Cutting down an old full-size putter is okay, but they are usually way to heavy. They make specialized lightweight putters for kids that should be considered, especially if your kids get serious into the game. Another thing you have to consider (and not just assume) is what hand your kids may be. An easier way to find out is ask them to swing the club like a baseball bat, and it likely that will tell you. Kids who’ve played hockey will often swing a golf club from a different hand than their hockey stick, so keep that in mind (yes, I’m Canadian, and this is often an issue).
Like most things with kids, you have to keep it simple. The grip is one of the most important parts of the game, however when teaching it try not to get overly-technical (unless you enjoy watching your kids eyes glaze over). The easiest way to teach kids the grip is such:
- Tell them to rest the putter flat on the ground and “clap” the grip, with both palms facing flat.
- Then explain that one hand is always lower than the other, right hand low for right-handers and vice-versa for lefties.
- Finally, tell them to grab the grip from this position – thats it.
Don’t both with interlocking or overlapping grips. You know your kids attention span is about as long as that of a squirrel, so don’t push it.
This is likely the simplest part. Just tell the kids to lightly stop their feet in place before they putt. This will almost always ensure their feet are close to shoulder width apart. Some kids may lock their knees, or bend them too much. You may just need to tell them to lock their knees, and simply unlock them.
Here comes the best part. Without a ball, and in their proper stance. Stick a tee in the ground some 5 feet from your child. Now get them to try an “aim” their stroke so if they hit a ball, it would go towards the tee. Then, paint this mental picture (while demonstrating) – “imagine your arms like the pendulum on a grandfather clock – moving back and forth, back and forth”. Ask them to mimic the movement while you watch. Next, grab some balls, and get putting. A little competition is always fun – see if they can ‘beat mom or dad’.
During this time you’ll likely have to re-inforce some of the etiquette you taught them at the beginning of the lesson, and thats to be expected. Over time they will understand. If you can try to ensure you make the game as fun as possible. Once they get the hang of it, setup a mini-golf course if you can, or take them to a real mini golf course, and ask them to employ the things they’ve learned.
I hope this lesson plan helps cover the basics of putting and teaching kids, we’ll be covering the basics up to the full swing over the next few days.