We ask PGA professional Normal Marshall, who oversees the Tommy Fleetwood Academy at Formby Hall Golf Resort: how do I get my children started with golf?
How Do I Get My Children Started With Golf?
Golf. The perfect generation game, a sport the whole family can play together.
For children, golf offers so many benefits: fresh air, exercise, and improved personal skills, to name but a few.
So, the question is: how do I get my children started with golf?
We put this question to Norman Marshall, a PGA professional who oversees the Tommy Fleetwood Academy at Formby Hall Golf Resort in Merseyside (opens in new tab).
Q. What's the best route into golf for children?
I started golf in the garden, with plastic clubs and airflow balls.
I’d get kids started by using bigger golf balls, tennis balls, things like that – anything to make it easier and to make it more fun.
Acquiring some sort of skill can start in the garden.
Use airflow balls to get some idea of hitting it between two canes, or controlling the direction, and then stretching that to the driving range - that is the route in.
That’s how I got my son going. It was all about playing games and chipping balls into little plastic cars and things like that.
Take them down the range, too. You don't have to be thinking about an 18-hole golf course straight away.
The best advice I can give is to find a child friendly coach with a child friendly programme - which is what we have at the Tommy Fleetwood Academy at Formby Hall Golf Resort (opens in new tab).
Related: Foxhills Scholarship Programme Open For Talented Youngsters (opens in new tab)
Q. The fun aspect is very important, isn't it?
It is. I once went to work in Sweden. For a country with a rather small population, it's amazing how many great sportsmen and women they produce - in golf and tennis in particular.
What I liked is that they are great at encouraging children.
My basic approach at the academy is to make a game out of golf, so all of our practice and training is built around some kind of a scoring game.
Q. Golf is quite technical. How do you get children to stick at it?
You’ve only got to think of the PlayStation and the Xbox – why do they stick at it? Because it’s so fun and it’s so stimulating.
Where do they read a book about where to put their fingers and thumbs, and which buttons to press?
They don’t, because it would bore them to death.
They learn the skills by playing the game, so it's about having fun - that's how you pull them in.
At the academy, we’re rolling balls into circles, putting into circles, always with an idea of a score, so you get hooked.
Q. What golf equipment do you need for children, and is that expensive?
Children don’t need a lot of clubs, maybe a 7-iron and a putter to start off with.
After that, they might need a 5-wood and a sand wedge, and they’re in business.
It’s not a big expense.
Often, equipment is provided, too, which is what we do. That gives kids the time to realise whether they actually like the game.
Q. Should children have lessons?
They can, but it depends on their age as to how useful it's going to be.
If they’re too young - maybe four or five - they can’t take it in and it’s off putting. They'll just start to associate golf with getting lectured.
Grip, ball position, stance, posture... their eyes are glazing over.
If kids come to me for lessons – and plenty do – we might work on technique, but it’s always disguised in a game.
Q. What about going on an 18-hole course. How important is that?
With really young children, we almost take them right up to the green so they're teeing off 15 to 20 yards away from the flag.
I’ll put up different sets of tees and start off in a three-hole tournament.
Once you’ve had a four on each hole, or you’ve done the three holes in 12, you move back a tee - that's how we develop them.
Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.
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