Learning to Play – The Best Way?

Here’s the dilemma:

My son is now 10 years old and has expressed an interest in moving from being my (underpaid) caddy to actually joining us for a round of golf.

He’s played on pitch and putt courses and enjoyed a summer camp a year or two ago, but other than that he’s just hit balls on the range when he’s ventured there with me.


As a dutiful dad, I’ve tried to give him a few simple pointers with mixed results and now that he seems to be getting more serious about golf I have to consider one thorny issue:

  • Do I let him follow the “Bubba Watson” path and find his own golf swing?
  • Or, do I spend a little cash and get him a few lessons with an instructor to help him along?



Common sense seems to be to invest in lessons. After all, a golf professional will know far better how to correct the errors in his fundamental stance, grip and swing.

There’s also the fact that my son will no doubt listen more intently and learn more from a golf pro, rather than his daft old dad, who is pretty hopeless at the game most of the time.


Yet there are many luminaries of the game who have never had a formal golf lesson. Bubba Watson (below) is arguably the biggest of the new breed of golfers who fits that bill.

However in the past, the likes of Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and even Jack Nicklaus, were all, one or two small aspects of their game apart, entirely self-taught.


Even some top modern day professionals, such as Jim Furyk and Luke Donald, use golf coaches very sparingly, sometimes only once or twice a year.




Compare that to some players who are seemingly attached at the hip to their coaches, always working on improving an aspect of their game, and who don’t really enjoy any more success than those for whom a trip to their coach is a rarity.

So what do I do? The answer lies, I believe, in what both my son and I want from his golf experience.


As a father, my main aim isn’t for my son to become a ‘great’ golfer, but to actually enjoy the game enough so that he wants to continue playing at whatever level he enjoys.

Whether that means looking at a future career in a game, or playing once a month with his old dad, I don’t know and neither does he.


So much depends on learning the fundamentals of the game and I fear, I may be his worst option when it comes to learning those.



My gut instinct is that he needs to learn the basics of the game correctly in order to avoid some of the many frustrations that can befall a novice player, simply because they have the fundamentals of the game ‘wrong’.

I am aware that nowadays, coaches are more sympathetic to the individual’s own style of swing and that there is no ‘perfect’ swing that they aim for, more that they try to hone a players innate talent to the best of their ability.


I find that reassuring as I think completely breaking down a player who has started to play and essentially getting them to learn a new swing all over again from the beginning, is one of the most off-putting aspects of visiting a coach.

For the time being, he has asked for golf lessons on his next birthday (September), but in the meantime, he will be coming to the range with me as often as I can venture out to see if we can get him hitting the ball more consistently.


After that it will be a few more visits to the pitch and putt when the weather improves to work on aspects of his short game and putting and the fundamentals.

My son is at a slight disadvantage compared to other golfers as his eyesight is so poor; before he was diagnosed as a young child, it was so poor we could have legally to be registered him as blind.

Thankfully, now it has improved markedly, but his glasses are still the jam-jar kind that made Tom Kite so conspicuous on the course.


However my main worry as a dad is not so much his eyesight, but if I will imbue my son with all the bad habits I have picked up over the years.

Especially then if he goes to a professional who then has to undo all the bad advice I have given him in the meantime!



I’ll report back to you in a few months time as to how things are going as I am going to finish this article to head off to the range with him and hit the first balls of 2014.

Hopefully, they won’t be the last!


Images from Bubba Watson’s Facebook Page, Gorilla Golf own Stock


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www.handicapgolfcalculator.com May 18, 2014

My problem is getting my 7 year old to keep his attention long enough to really talk through technique when we are at the range. It seems like I only have a 5 minute window to get him into a groove, then he is done.


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