Every young golfer's journey is unique, but a well-structured plan can pave the way for success on the greens. The stories of Tiger Woods starting at age two and becoming a phenom at age 5 are shared so frequently that by age six parents think their child's chance to excel in golf has gone by. It seems the story of Y.E. Yang, the only golfer to defeat Tiger Woods in a major when Tiger had a 54 hole lead, is often lost. Yang didn't pick up a golf club until the age of 19 and still became a major champion! Regardless of the age of your child we want to give you a roadmap for what the journey ahead may look like. They can start as early as they want, but a late start doesn't mean their is no hope for success in golf.
Phase 1: Early Childhood (Ages 3-6)
Objective: Introduction to Golf and Fundamental Sports Skills
Ages 3-4: At this age, introduce your child to golf informally. Use plastic clubs, soft balls, and simple putting games to build familiarity with the sport. Focus on having fun and developing hand-eye coordination. Make sure your equipment is very light and keep the goals very simple. Stand on the correct side of the ball, understand how to hit it hard and soft, make contact with the ball. etc.
Ages 5-6: Start formal instruction if your child shows interest. Enroll them in beginner golf programs tailored for young kids. Focus on basic skills like grip, stance, and the concept of the swing. Only let your child participate in golf when they are asking to and enjoying it. Some parent's can push their child into golf at this age before they are emotionally ready for a solo sport.
Phase 2: Middle Childhood (Ages 7-11)
Objective: Skill Development and Love for the Game
Ages 7-8: This is where true junior golf instruction can begin to take place. Regardless of previous experience. Group instruction is great at this age to build social skills while learning the game. Focus should be on fundamental golf skills not technical skills. If your instructor is talking about club path and angle of attack, run away.
Ages 9-11: Consider joining a junior golf league or team. Focus on skill development in all aspects of the game, including driving, iron play, chipping, and putting. Encourage friendly competition. If your child has been playing for a few years light competition is great and begin forming a more technical understanding of the swing. If your child is still beginning focus on skill development and not how their swing looks.
Phase 3: Pre-Teen Years (Ages 12-13)
Objective: Skill Refinement and Competitive Experience
Ages 12-13: By this age, your junior golfer should have a solid foundation. Continue refining skills and consider more specialized coaching if they show a particular interest in a specific aspect of the game (e.g., putting or driving). If your child is just starting out get them started with private instruction, they should be able to catch up with more one-on-one time vs. group instruction. Only push your child into golf tournaments at this age if they are asking for more competitive environments. A bad tournament experience can ruin a child's love for the game faster than anything else.
Participation in Tournaments: Introduce your child to local junior golf tournaments. This provides valuable competitive experience and teaches them how to handle pressure on the course. Their are a lot of a great less competitive options as well including PGA Junior League and Drive, Chip, and Putt.
Phase 4: Early Teens (Ages 14-16)
Objective: Tournament Competency and Mental Toughness
Ages 14-15: Focus on tournament play and sharpening skills. Encourage goal setting and practice routines for those junior golfers who are starting to take the sport more serious. If your child is still starting out private instruction and time on-course are most important. If your child is becoming more competitive structured practice time to work on weaknesses is vital. Many tournament players love to play golf but the best ones understand the value of practice.
Ages 16 and Beyond: Continue tournament play and consider more advanced coaching if your junior golfer aspires to compete at higher levels, such as college or beyond.
Phase 5: Late Teens and Beyond
Objective: College Golf or Professional Pursuits
Late Teens: If your child has aspirations of playing collegiate golf, research NCAA and NAIA eligibility requirements. Work with your child to create a competitive golf resume and seek out college golf programs that align with their goals.
Beyond College: For those aiming for a professional golf career, consider working with a dedicated golf coach and competing in high-level amateur events. Seek sponsorships and endorsements as necessary.
Remember, Every Child Is Different
It's crucial to remember that every child is unique. Some may accelerate through these phases faster, while others may progress more slowly. The key is to nurture their love for the game and ensure that golf remains a positive and enjoyable experience throughout their childhood.
The journey of a junior golfer is a marathon, not a sprint. By following this timeline and adjusting it to your child's individual needs and aspirations, you can help them realize their full potential in the exciting world of golf. So, tee up and enjoy the journey together!
How Legends of the Links fits the Timeline''
Legends of the Links is structured to work with your child in the first three phases of a junior golfers career. We structure it into our slogan of Collect, Train, and Duel; another way to phrase it would be Learn, Practice, Compete. When beginning you are collecting the cards and learning the skills that each card represents. Once you collect the cards your child starts practicing those skills to improve their ability to use the cards in duels. Once they feel they are good enough they will start to compete. Once they compete they find out what their strengths and weaknesses are and begin to train those weaknesses. A card game may seem to childish for teenagers but Legends of the Links is not just about the pictures on paper and their attack and defense, it is a training program to make sure kids are developing the essential skills to love golf for a lifetime and continue to improve their games.