It is Take A Kid To The Course week where The National Golf Course Owners Association is trying to grow the game by encouraging people to bring their kids.
Golf is an expensive, tempermental sport. Usually people bringing kids to the golf course would be frowned upon, it’s slow enough as it is on the weekends already. But, during this week, kids are encouraged to come with their parents to learn about the game and have the seeds planted that could turn them into the next Rory McIlroy or Michelle Wie.
Last week we vacationed at a resort that doesn’t just let kids golf for free one week of the year, they encourage them to come all the time. Kids always golf free at Copper Point, and so I took advantage by bringing my 6 yr old to play a round with me. Now that’s a little young to be hitting the ball down a 400 yd par 4, and I was a little nervous about bringing him with me. He’d only been to the driving range with me twice and, while he is attracted to the game, he is still only 6 and I was worried about his attention span.
Bringing kids to the course is something that is usually met with displeasure, but with the encouragement of the course, I brought him along and we had a blast. Whether it’s Take A Kid To The Course Week, or any week, here’s what you should know when you bring your kids to play golf with you, and why you should make it a habit.
Bring Your Kid To The Course 1 of 16
Whether it's free or not, driving range or a full round, here are some things you should know about bringing your kid to the course and how to make it the best day ever.
Equipment 2 of 16
A friend won my son's golf bag at a silent auction for $25. Great deal. Before that lucky break, we scoured eBay, Craigslist, and Kijiji for used clubs in the < $40 price range - a far cry from the nearly $200 you'll pay for new kids' clubs.
Go Early / Go Late 3 of 16
Our tee time was 7am, the first one of the day. We were paired off without any playing partners and so I could manage our pace to make sure we stayed ahead of the group behind without anyone slowing us down in front. The same could be done for later in the day, you'll have a cheaper green fee and you'll have less of a chance of someone coming behind you and waiting.
Hit From 150 4 of 16
Your kid doesn't need to hit off the tee on every hole. The starter encouraged me to tee off, and then have my son tee it up and hit from the 150 yd pole. I would hit my approach shot, and then my son would tee up and bang his ball a dozen or so times to the green while I drove the cart up and met him there with his putter.
Etiquette 5 of 16
Golfing together is a great lesson in respect and etiquette. There are particular rules to the game and this is a great chance for your kids to practice using their "listening ears."
Respect 6 of 16
Little things like being quiet when your partner is playing, walking around their putting line, and encouraging your playing partner.
Ball Washer 7 of 16
My son was amazed by many new inventions and gadgets on the golf course including the ball washer. He insisted that he wash every one of my balls every hole.
Club Washer 8 of 16
He just about lost it when I showed him the club scrubber built into the cart.
Instant Caddy 9 of 16
The kids don't need to play every hole. They will have just as much fun caddying for you. Raking a bunker is a blast when you're 6.
Driving The Cart 10 of 16
Yes, I let him "drive" a couple of times.
Video Games 11 of 16
There are many things to keep their attention over the course of the round, especially if your cart has built in "video games."
Nature 12 of 16
Golf is a wonderful chance to experience nature. My son marvelled at the mountains, the flowers, the streams and ponds, and the "baby butterflies." Sure, they were moths, but after learning about butterflies in Kindergarten this year, he insisted they were "baby butterflies."
Grown-Up Time 13 of 16
A round of golf is a great chance for your kid to feel 'grown up'. This kind of playdate will have your kid surrounded by adults and, more or less, treated like an equal. It's a great reward and a chance for them to show their maturity.
Practice Practice Practice 14 of 16
Any weekend hacker will tell you that golf needs practice and any chance we have to introduce our kids to a new sport is a chance for them to learn how to apply themselves and succeed. Now you'll have a partner to encourage you to get out to the driving range and work on your game.
Driving Range 15 of 16
If your course won't let you bring your kids to play, they can still go with you to the driving range. They'll have fun on the practice greens and tees just the same.
Being Together 16 of 16
It's also just a great chance to spend some Parent/Child time. At the end of our round, I removed my hat and shook my son's hand and said "nice round."
All images by Buzz Bishop. No use without permission.