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How to get kids into golf

Golf Care, 23rd May 2024

how to get kids into golf


Everyone who plays golf knows what a brilliant and enjoyable sport it is.

However, ever felt like, as a golfer, you have an obligation to pass down your love of the sport to the next generation? You’re certainly not alone. Getting kids into golf can be a real challenge, but knowing how to do so could be vital for the future popularity of our much-loved game.

If anyone knows how to get kids into golf from a young age, it’s Aaron Cox. In 2022, Aaron won Participation and Development Coach of the Year at the England Golf Awards for his incredible work with junior golfers.

When he started as an assistant at Blackwell Grange Golf Club in the North East, he energised the whole club, building a six-hole academy course and getting a huge number of juniors to take up the game. Now, he teaches as many as 80 kids a week.

Below, he explains how to get kids into golf, and talks us through some of the work he has done with children through his junior academy, ACED Academy.


How to get kids into golf

how to get kids into golf

When can kids start to play golf?

The age of around six and onwards is a great time to start getting kids into golf. In fact, nearly half of my academy is between six and eight.

When a kid around this age comes to one of my classes, they’ll learn the main fundamentals of the game. My four main fundamentals are GASP: Grip, Aim, Stance and Posture.

Then, we’ll start practising with some real golf balls. Often, when you go into schools, they only play with plastic balls, but as soon as you go to a real golf club, there’s none of that. I think the best way to learn golf is to hit proper balls from the start.


How hard is golf for young kids?

I’ll always try to make golf fun and play along with them in sessions. We play games on the putting and chipping greens, and I’m quite lucky as I also have a six-hole course. So, kids can start learning to play golf from a very early age and from very early on in the process. I get them out on the kids’ course and get them to hit shots. Even if they can barely hit the ball 20 metres yet, they still get out there and play holes, which is great.

However, many kids find hitting balls on the range a bit boring, so that can be a challenge. It’s particularly hard in the winter as the range is all we can really do, so I’ll try to incentivise sessions around Christmas (and Easter) with chocolate!

I work hard to keep kids engaged in golf throughout the winter. We’ll work primarily on technique during this time and then get out on the course in the summer. We hardly spend any time at the range in the summer because I’d rather they were out playing!


When should parents buy golf clubs for their children?

how to get kids into golf

I normally tell parents who come to my academy to wait until their kids have played golf for at least 12 weeks before investing in any proper gear.

We’ve got all the golf clubs for kids to use and try out for that initial period—irons, wedges, putters, drivers, and so on—so I’ll tell parents not to buy any themselves until around that 12-week point.

If the kids are still engaged and enjoying it after 12 weeks, then that’s a good time to consider buying some clubs.


Why do group golf lessons work well for kids?

Groups are important because golf can be a selfish sport. Yes, it’s a one-person sport, but I want the kids to learn and make good friendships as they do so.

I’ve got some kids in my classes who have been together now for three years and have become best friends through golf. They all get to play together, their parents also get to know each other, and all of a sudden, you’ve got a nice mix of things going on.  


Tell us about one of your career success stories…

We have a ‘Ryder Cup’ every year, which is really fun.

We have eight tournaments a year throughout the season, from March to October, and the top 24 kids on the ‘Order of Merit’ qualify for the following year’s matches. I pick two captains and get them to pick their own teams. Then, they play a Ryder Cup-style tournament.

They get shirts and caps with the European and American logos, and I put flags and bunting down the side of the course—half European, half American.

The kids and parents dress up for the occasion, and we play for a real trophy.

By the end, you have three or four kids walking together with a massive flag around them, egging their mates on, and you’ll have 40 people sitting around the last green.

It’s excellent for team bonding and getting them hooked on the sport. It can be easy to forget they’re just 7-11 years old. 


Are there handicaps in kid’s golf?

The kids have handicaps, yes. So, when they want to transition from just playing socially to actually entering competitions, I use the old-school handicapping system.

You put three cards in, add all three scores up, and divide by three to get an average, which is your handicap. We have a par-20 on my kids’ course, so if their average comes out at 27.8, then their handicap is 7.8, and their playing handicap is 8.  


When’s the best time for a kid to move up to a full golf course?

This will depend on the child. For me, personally, if a child wants to move from the academy to the main course, I’ll need to approve that transition first.

I’ve had kids who are eight years old transition to the main course and play off blue tees. They hit the ball 100 yards, and they’ve had two years of competition golf on the kids’ course, so they’ll know about handicapping, scoring, net scores, gross scores, speed of play, marking the ball on the greens, repairing pitch marks and divots, and so on because we’ve taught them all of that.


What is your best piece of advice to parents of golf-playing kids?

I would say just allow your kids to make decisions. Be there to support them, but don’t try and do too much and get too involved.

I’ve experienced parents who are 100% supportive of their child, which is great, but you sometimes get parents who think they know more or better than the pro or coach.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a parent will say something to their child like ‘Why did you do that?’ after a poor shot. I often think to myself, ‘Do you think that they wanted to do that?’

Instead, try phrasing it more helpfully and constructively, like ‘Did anything feel different on that shot compared to the last one?’ or ‘What do you think happened there?’

Speaking down to your child when they’re trying to learn the game will only add barriers to their progression.


For more on Aaron, visit acedgolfacademy.com.


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