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Introduce a youngster to golf

Published: Monday, June 10, 2013 9:26 p.m. CDT

School’s out, and one of the best sports you can introduce a child to is golf. There are a plethora of junior golf opportunities out there, and you will want to get the best for your child. Here are a few guidelines for questions to ask the people in charge of the school or camp:

What safety instruction do you give? Number one in my concerns for junior is that he or she doesn’t get injured by flying clubs or balls when in the learning area. One of the most simple instructions that I use is that all kids who are not hitting balls should hold the club by the clubhead, not the grip. Additional advice, like there must also be a buffer area of about six feet behind each hitting station, is good, too. You might want to ask the safety record, but the answer will probably be that there have been no accidents or incidents.

What is the maximum student to teacher ratio? I never felt safe working with more than six students, but I have gone as high as 8 to 1 in the past. When working with larger numbers, safety becomes even more of a concern. The larger the number, the less individual attention your child will get, so try to steer clear of the really inexpensive camps, as they usually mean high ratios and only a few minutes attention for junior in an hour.

What qualifications do the teachers have? Ideally all teachers should be PGA professionals, but most junior programs use college golfers or even high school golfers to supplement the teaching staff. Just make sure that the entire teaching staff does not consist of junior golfers. You may even want to watch a session just to check. One PGA pro for every 15 golfers is a good number.

Do you provide clubs? Most good junior programs will provide junior clubs, not cut down adult clubs that might be too heavy and hard to swing. Real junior clubs weigh a lot less than adult clubs and have softer shafts, making them easier to hit and get the ball in the air.

How many days or weeks does the camp/school run? Realistically, you need a minimum of six sessions for any real learning to occur. If you review lesson retention rates for adults, most remember less than 25 prcent of what they were taught, so younger students will probably retain less.

If the child enjoys the camp, the next step is definitely private or semi private lessons with a PGA golf professional.

Next week – choosing a golf instructor.

Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.

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