Earl Woods began training his son Tiger to play golf at the tender age of 10 months. Tiger was swinging a golf club before he could walk. Not every child is a golf prodigy destined for greatness, though. Golf is a frustrating sport that takes years, if not decades, to master. It is, however, possible for every child to learn to love the game, and teaching the game to your son can be a rewarding, shared experience for both of you.
Make it Fun
"Golf Digest" advocates for a "more-play, less-teaching" approach for parents with young kids. Lessons should be 30 minutes or less and only 10 minutes should be devoted to actual teaching. Be creative with the way you teach. Invent silly competitions. Challenge the windmills and laughing clowns on the mini-golf course. Do whatever you can to associate the game of golf with fun, so your son will want to be around the game even more and will want to become better.
Emphasize the Short Game
Start every practice session with your son on the putting green. Work on short putts and gradually work your way out. Chipping doesn’t require much swing adjustment from the putting stroke, so step off the green and work on that area of his short game. As you move away from the green, your son will need to progressively lengthen his back swing until he naturally develops a consistent, full swing, which is the hardest thing to master on the links.
Camp or Group Lessons
Some children learn best in a group setting where they can learn next to their peers. If he is interested, enroll your son in a camp or in group lessons taught by a golf professional. Your son will learn all aspects of the game, including lessons in proper golf etiquette and the rules of the sport. Group lessons and week-long summer camps are significantly less expensive than individual, one-on-one lessons.
Take to the Course
Practice on a par-3 course and avoid those long par-5s, where even you might struggle reaching the green in regulation. Try playing only a couple holes, as your son may have trouble staying engaged for a full round. Make things a little easier and allow your son to tee up his ball on shots from off the green and move his ball from the rough to the fairway. Finally, play in the late afternoon, when the course is less busy. You will not feel rushed or hold any serious players up, and you and your son will have plenty of time to enjoy your first rounds together.