The thought of taking a group of kids out on the golf course is a lot more daunting than taking them to the driving range. But don’t let that fear deter you. There’s a way for kids to get around the course in a completely acceptable amount of time and not bother other groups in the process.
We spoke to Erika Larkin, one of our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers and the Director of Instruction at The Club at Creighton Farms in Aldie, Virginia.
Larkin not only teaches a lot of juniors, her two young children are also golfers. If anyone has some strategies on how to successfully navigate a group of juniors around a course without making the group behind you antsy, it’s her.
Looks for lulls in the action
When you contact a course, be clear and tell them you’re coming with junior players and are looking for a quiet time. “The staff should know the ebbs and flows of traffic and be able to tell you a good time so you won’t be too rushed when playing with your kids,” says Larkin.
Keep it short
There’s no harm in walking off the course before 9 – in fact, it can be the best thing you can do. Larkin says, “Depending on the age of your golfers, 5 or 6 holes may be plenty. Finish when it’s still fun and it leaves your kids wanting more.”
Again, keep it short
But this time, keep the yardage short. Create your own course and tees as needed in the fairway. Larkin suggests, “6 to 8-year olds should play from 50-150 yards out on any given hole. Nine-11 year olds maybe 180-250 yards, and 12-13 year olds play from forward tees.” There’s no need for kids to go out and play full length courses. Making their own course for them within the larger course gives them the thrill of being on a course, while keeping it manageable.
Put your own game aside
As the adult, don’t plan on being able to think about your game. “Instead of focusing on your play, focus on setting a good example in attitude and etiquette,” says Larkin. “You’re filling the job more of a caddie than of a player for this round.”
Create time-saving games
“Add in fun twists like a “hand wedge” from the sand if they don’t get it out after two swings,” says Larkin. Or if they’re struggling on the green, instate a “magic putt.” Little things like this will keep it light and limit frustration for your group, and the groups around you.
Don’t make it purely individual
Play a scramble or shamble. Introducing kids to the course doesn’t mean they have to play their own ball. “Playing a scramble will keep everyone moving and make the experience more team oriented,” says Larkin.