When the bell rings and school supplies start invading the kitchen table, ease back into the swing of things with a fresh after-school activity.
Whether you’ve been trying to get your child on the links for a while, or have a junior with a sudden attraction to the game, myriad local avenues are available to explore. Sean Ferris, a PGA professional and the assistant executive director for the Junior Golf Association of Arizona (JGAA), offers useful tips on how and where to get your junior teeing up—and how to keep them interested.
“If any thing in junior golf, geography is probably number one,” Ferris says.
“Unless they are old enough to drive, [kids] usually need the help of an adult to get to where they are going. So the first thing I say is, ‘Tell me where you live, and let me find an instructor I know of that is very good with junior golf and is close to you.’”
Once location is pinned down, the next step is evaluating your junior’s skill level.
“The next thing is to look at what programs they have and what will be the best fit,” Ferris says. “If it’s a beginner, it’s better if [the junior golf program] has a lot of group clinics, because it is always easier for beginners to learn in a group environment rather than [through] individual one-on-one instruction.
Although a 6-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio is ideal, Ferris adds that veteran pros can be just as effective with an eight-to-one or even a ten-to-one ratio.
“Golf can be a hard sport, and if you don’t see other people struggling with it just like you are, it can become discouraging.”
The final consideration is the increasing expense of one of the priciest sports around.
“Budget is the reality of it,” Ferris says. “You can find very expensive programs for juniors and you can find…[nearly] free programs. So there are all types of programs out there. And budget is a factor when you consider all the other sports activities that kids are involved in.”
Getting your junior to practice is one thing, but engaging a child’s interest is the key to a lifelong love of the game. Ferris says to keep in mind that a golf school’s success can be measured by a child’s desire for continued improvement.
“Definitely the success and the popularity of the program are directly related to having an LPGA or PGA professional who [is] there and dedicated to junior golf.”