Is Your Child a Golf Prodigy?

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When a child showcases an interest in a sport, as a parent you dream of them reaching the pinnacle and imagining yourself in 20 years watching on from the stands as they win the biggest prize on offer. If your little boy or girl shows keenness and a certain amount of natural talent, why not dream big of them one day being presented with a green jacket at Augusta?

That is a long way off, and neither should you adopt the role of the overly pushy parent. What you can and should do is to encourage them to have fun and play the game for as long as they enjoy it. Forcing children to play any sport can have a negative effect and turn them away from a game they once loved. Allow them to play, not just because they are good but because they enjoy themselves.

Is Your Child Exceptionally Talented?

There is a huge difference between being good and being very good. The top professionals were sounded out to have potential at a very young age (not dissimilar from other sports). To give you an idea, a beginner’s score for a golfer aged 12 and under is expected to be anywhere between 130 and 150. Young golfers aged 12 and under that can break 100 are in the top 1% of players at that age. For context, Tiger Woods broke 70 on a regulation golf course for the first time at the age of 12.

Breaking 100 at 12 shows that the player is hugely talented, and it is only the player’s physical development that holds them back from completing the course in regulation. Young golfers do not yet possess the strength to hit long shots to cover the distance of the hole, which is made up of well-taken shorter shots to guide the ball to the green and make the putt.

Once players reach early teenage years and undergo puberty, by which time they begin to develop physically (and can begin to slowly introduce weight training), shooting 100 is still a good score but is by no means anywhere near elite. Players must learn to control the distance the ball travels as their range increases and if you have a child around the age of 14 posting scores in and around the 80s, this is a highly advanced score.

By the age of 18, if your child is to have a realistic chance of making it as a professional, they should be playing scratch golf (no handicap, playing to par). Only 10% of golfers ever reach scratch golf standard, which means that this is no mean feat regardless of age.

Regular Competition

It is one thing being able to post exceptional scores on a Saturday afternoon on the local golf course that they are well acquainted with, but regularly posting good scores in competition is far more difficult. Playing on a new course means that you move outside of your comfort zone, having to feel out the course’s intricacies and imperfections as well as handling the pressure that comes with competitive sport.

Competing doesn’t mean going out and treating a junior tournament as the most serious thing in the world, as it should always be fun. If your child has enjoyed playing at the local club, it is only reasonable that they may also enjoy playing in competitions – after all, what young player doesn’t enjoy taking home a trophy or medal for their efforts?

If a young player is to have a chance of turning pro when they are older, then playing in regular competitions is a must. No matter the sport, it doesn’t matter what you can do in practise if you are unable to replicate it when it matters.

Fun Coaching

Young, talented players must be allowed to enjoy the game and that means not treating every session seriously. Incorporating fun golf games that can be played, whether on the course or in the garden/park can help to mix up sessions on the driving range or course which may soon become monotonous.

Fun games also help to develop skills without the feeling of being coached too much, which can be a factor in highly talented young players walking away from any sport. By keeping their love and passion for the game alive, rather than making it feel like a chore, they are far more likely to want to keep playing and progressing.

 

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