What is in store in golf’s future?

Look outside and you shall see, the smiling faces of frosty (the snowman) and me.

Look outside and you shall see, the smiling faces of frosty (the snowman) and me.

The weather channel predicted snow and cold for the last day of the long weekend but since when has the weather man been correct. Apparently the technology they have is much more accurate then what it used to be.

Once again, Mother Nature has reared its ugly head by giving Central Albertans a white surprise when we should be on the on the Links enjoying a leisurely round of golf.

While us adults sit inside whining and complaining about the weather (maybe it’s just me), our children, the future of golf, are excited in the anticipation of building the perfect snowman or picking off their friends with a snowball.

Kids, full of energy and optimism, do not see the snow as a negative, but instead an opportunity to have fun and enjoy what the day brings.

Living for the moment and enjoying whatever that moment brings, is the epitome of innocence and simply priceless.

Children bring the same energy and optimism to the game of golf.

Their number one goal is to have fun, whether they know it or not.

They do not care how to hold the club or stand, whether the ball is in the correct position or they finish properly, all they care about is whether the ball is smacked up in the air and further then mom or dad’s ball.

I am often asked by parents with children, what is the best age to get them going?

Should I get my children into lessons right away or should we just let them hit balls at the range?

There seems to be many questions as to the best way and age to introduce our kids to the game of golf.

In the following paragraphs, I shall relay the best age to begin introducing your children to the game, instruction, etiquette, typical junior programs and the benefits of joining a league.

First of all and what we cannot lose sight of is that golf is for fun and fun comes first.

Children will be children and depending on their age, we must ensure that they enjoy the whole experience of being on the golf course.

Doing so will assist in keeping their interest levels up and wanting to join you when playing on the course or just hitting a bucket of balls.

Most golf courses in the area will offer a junior program to their members or to the general public.

The ages can vary depending on the facility, but generally speaking junior programs are structured for kids between the ages of six and 18.

Groups will be divided into age categories that best suit their maturity level and learning patterns.

This, in most cases will be 6-8, 9-11 and 12-18 year olds.

This structure is determined by each program coordinator based on the depth of the individual program.

The game of golf is entrenched in tradition and teaches golfers of all ages strong values.

These values include honesty, integrity, respect and dedication, to name a few.

Golf course etiquette makes up of many of these values and is a key component that we discuss and teach with all members of the junior program.

These ‘rules’ are simply an extension of the rules and values we teach our children on a daily basis at home.

Instruction can begin at a very young age. Keeping this in mind, instructors have to design their instruction content based on the age of the student.

For example, keeping in mind that the six-to eight-year-olds’ attention level, strength and intellect is not that of a teenager’s, we can not get nearly as technical when teaching them.

In most cases with the younger group, we show them the proper set up, finish position and the swing motion, and then let them hit balls ensuring they finish properly.

With the older kids we become more technical in our instruction techniques.

We also introduce video to them as their knowledge, strength and attention levels are much better.

Regardless of the age, learning the basics of the golf swing properly will assist them in hitting the ball better throughout their golfing lives.

Finally, joining a golf league or purchasing a membership can be one of the best investments you make for your child.

A golf course is one of the healthiest, safest and enjoyable locations for our children to spend their summers.

The lessons they learn through golf is simply an extension of what we attempt to teach our children each and every day in our own households.

Life’s lesson’s is what golf is all about and preparing them for the challenges they will face as adults is one of the best gifts we can give our children.

For more information on junior programs, consult your local CPGA Golf Professional.

Scott Bergdahl is the head professional at Lakewood Golf Resort near Sylvan Lake.

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