Golf Tuition for Kids

Like it or not, the fact of the matter is, fewer numbers of young people are being attracted to the game of golf than in previous years. It is an arresting decline in numbers and one that golf has to address if the game is to enjoy a burgeoning future.

Of course, there are countries where this trend is bucked. In Turkey, for example, a HSBC report into the state of golf revealed that after heavy investment in youth golf and a number of incentive-laden schemes to get youngsters playing, they have managed to significantly increase the amount of youngsters playing the game.

Golf-lessons-for-young-children-and-kids

Yet it has to be said that the Turkish golf market is not the biggest in global terms and in all the key markets, the United States, Great Britain and Ireland and many states of Europe, participation by youngsters is dwindling.

This has led to many new innovations to hit the world of golf to try and attract fresh blood to the game. At the 2014 PGA Show in Orlando, the GolfBoard, a hybrid surf-board crossed with a golf trolley won the prestigious Best New Product award.

In the UK, there has also been a rapid development of the game of ‘foot-golf’ a game played on golf courses where players use their feet to kick a football into a (thankfully much larger) golf hole.

Footgolf

While these new ideas and products may certainly attract people to golf course, the question has to be asked, are we promoting golf to the youngsters, or a gimmick?

Footgolf for example, is a great way golf courses could utilise their course when golf isn’t viable and it is a much easier game to play than with clubs and a ball, but is it really golf?  I don’t think it is, in the same way playing hockey isn’t the same as playing football.

It’s the same with the Golfboard, since when is how you traverse a course more important than what you do on it with your clubs and ball? There is also the very simple fact that very few 12-18 year olds are likely to have the personal finances, or parents, that can afford to pay $6,500 in order to procure when when a good golf trolley will cost you less than $50.

To my mind, these inventions, while well meant, don’t really address why young people are turning off from the game of golf. It is my own view that the reasons for this are:

  1. Image

Like it or not, Golf still maintains an image of a somewhat elitist game, played by middle aged men in the main and for whom exclusivity remains more important than opportunity. While many clubs buck this trend and have many different initiatives welcoming young players, women and other new golfers to the fold, there are many that take a seeming equal amount of delight in keeping them away.

Until golf realises its image needs to change (and the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and co are instrumental in this) then it will seldom appear as ‘cool’ as some other sports to participate in.

  1. Cost

Playing golf doesn’t have to be hugely expensive, but there is no doubt that even kitting someone out with the bare minimum of gear from scratch can be hugely expensive for some families. This is particularly relevant at times of recession, such as now, when people do not have much, if any, disposable income and the prospect of spending £200 on a new driver simply because little Johnny likes it, is completely irrelevant.

Add into that the costs of playing, regardless of whether you are a club member or not, additional costs for items of clothing, golf trolleys and a never ending supply of balls and tees and with youth unemployment riding so high and kids having less to spend than in previous years, is it any wonder a potentially expensive game is not one that appeals to them?

golf-training-courses-for-kids

  1. System

Linked in with cost, how is a young person likely to be able to afford £30 to £50 for a round of golf at a local private course? Municipal courses may be much cheaper, but there are relatively few of these compared to private courses where the costs, even for a player playing with a member, can still be astronomical for a young person.

Also the fact that you have to join a club to be granted a playing handicap to play in tournaments also needs looking at. Many youngsters keen to play cannot afford subscriptions, or if they can, do not know two members of a local club in order to seek their recommendation for membership. Few young people are willing to ask established members for this as they fear the answer will be a resounding “no”.

Why should a young player play golf, if they have a very limited choice of courses they can afford to play because the private ones local to them do not seem to want their custom?

  1. Protocol

Whether it’s trainers on the course, no denim or tracksuit bottoms to be worn, collarless shirts being banned and a ban on certain types of shorts. Many of golf’s most strictest protocol stick in the craw of youngsters who don’t want to play a round, as they would see it, “dressed like my granddad”.

While youngsters certainly need to be aware of the tradition of the game, is it practical, say, for a youngster who comes from a deprived family background, who has borrowed a half set of clubs to play, to then be told they can’t because they don’t have a collared t-shirt and golf shoes?

Of course, this doesn’t happen at many public courses and this is precisely where you will find the few youngsters that do want to play, playing.

Kids Golf

  1. Education

Golf needs to be part of education. For too long the benefits of golf have often been overlooked. With childhood obesity on the rise and children now having a more sedentary lifestyle than ever, any sport that can coax them away from the console and out into the open air for a 5 or 6 mile walk while testing their physical strength, accuracy, brain power and strategy, cannot be a bad thing.

Golf clubs and organisations should be reaching out to schools to get children into the sport at a younger age. The positive health benefits of playing should be regularly promoted and alongside that, children can be taught golf’s rich history, its etiquette and more.

Attracting youngsters to golf isn’t about offering them gimmicks to play. They need to appreciate the game for what it is, but to do that, they need the opportunity to play. Too many barriers from all too young an age are placed in many children’s path which stops them from even considering golf as something they’d like to do.

And that is a great shame because when most kids experience that first clean hit of a golf ball, they can become hooked for life.

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Comments

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Richie February 1, 2016

Heard about Urban Golf ! Or Crazy Golf they would like to say ! … What you think about it … I think this is the one way to spreading this to attract the urban young golfer… spare them to go to that posh arena of golf… and also they have got some responsibility… No glass would be broken as they set some rules also for this crazy golf!!

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Miller June 3, 2016

I think the love for golf comes naturally. You can try as much to make your kids love it but it will take its sweet time

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