Introducing Kids to the Game of Golf.

Starting them on the Putting Green

In reflecting on my time with Harvey Penick, one thing that he consistently preached was that the game of golf is starts and ends on the putting green.  He would always tell me to spend 70-80% of my time on the putting green – chipping and putting.  A famous “Harveyism” that he always preached was that “the trees are filled with long hitters” and that when you chose for a partner to play on your team, always take the best putter.  Case in point – look at one of his famous pupils, Ben Crenshaw who is noted as one of the all time games best with the flat stick.

For children that are just learning the game, Harvey would say “start at the hole and work backwards”… first learn how to make a putting stroke, then back up and learn how to chip, then you can make your way to the driving range.  Having a child learn how to “get the ball in the hole” is the start of the game.  Said more directly, don’t start on the driving range.

From my perspective, I believe that too many parents make a very bad mistake by bringing their kids to the driving range and having them “pound balls” developing no foundation for the game.  By doing this, many kids miss out on the basic fundamentals of getting the ball in the hole and miss out on the celebration of knocking in a putt. 

With my daughters, we spend 50%+ on the putting green playing games.  Three games that we play to make putting have some “extra fun” include:

  1. The Circle Game – put balls in a circle around the hole… if your child is just learning, start them 2 inches away from the hole, and once they knock them in… move them back a couple inches.
  2. Around the World Game – we play two versions of this game.  When she was younger, it was just a game of speed, where the object was to get the ball in all the holes in the shortest amount of time.  As they developed their skill and distance control, we started playing with strokes.
  3. The Distance Game – get 3 balls and 3 tees.  Put the 3 tees a foot apart from the hole (start at one foot and go to 3 foot).  When she makes all putts from 1 foot, move to 2 feet then to 3.  Once this is completed, pull out the first tee and go from 2-4 feet.  This is a fun game that adds a little pressure in a fun way.

The key to the putting green is making everything a game.  Ally and I always try to come up with a game, more often than not; she will be the one making up the game… which obviously is half the fun.  Hopefully some of this helps… don’t waste time on the range… stay on the putting green until your child develops the fundamental skills.

Happy Putting

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