Ashton Gennette, Kentville, gets a private golf lesson at the KenWo Golf Club. Ashton, who has been golfing for over a year, loves learning the new sport. - Submitted
When thinking of golf, the image of children doesn't often come to mind. But, there is no reason it shouldn’t!
“So many things are learned through the game of golf,” says Rene MacKay, director of golf and operations at KenWo Golf Club in New Minas. “It is a game built around honesty and integrity. Here, youth learn to converse with others – their peers and adults - and gain comfort in meeting new people.”
Golf is also a game youth can play for a lifetime; a sport that can help them in their careers.
Vanessa and Néal Gennette of Kentville couldn’t agree more. They signed their son, Ashton, up for lessons when he was six years old. For them, it was an opportunity for Ashton to gain self-confidence and to find an activity he could do with his dad.
“Besides, a lot of business is done on the golf course,” says Vanessa, “and he'll have the option to be a part of that later in life.”
Golf is one skill that might be easier to learn early in life.
“Right now, Ashton is not self-conscious and he's open to being educated,” says Vanessa. It may be harder for teens to learn golf because they might be afraid of what their friends will think and worry if they're any good or not. At this young age, there is usually no peer pressure.
Christine Isenor’s children Katelyn and Will play golf. The Coldbrook woman says kids can pick it up easily.
“They don't have any bad habits, like adults may, that need to be corrected, so they gain success quickly,” she says.
Isenor, too, likes watching her children gain confidence through golf.
“There is that sense of immediate success when you do what you have been taught and see the ball go sailing into the air,” she says.
Vanessa also says it’s easy to see improvement, when you start connecting with the ball and see it going further each week.
“Golf will also help with math skills, not to mention honesty,” says Isenor, “as youth have to count their ‘real’ score.”
Will and Katelyn say golf makes them count their strokes and add up their scores.
Children can start to learn to play golf around the age of five as long as they have the hand-eye co-ordination, strength to swing and attention span to play. Many golf clubs, including KenWo, offer programs for children. MacKay recommends you enrol your child in a program at a golf club that employs a PGA of Canada professional and offers a successful junior program.
“With kids under the age of 10, it helps to have a parent or grandparent involved in the game, as this will enable their child to play more often, but this is not a must,” says MacKay.
Overall, the best way to learn the game is through playing it – as well as regular instruction at a young age and beyond. Enrolment in junior golf camps, participating in indoor and outdoor camps, and private instruction all help, too.
MacKay says the biggest benefit of playing golf versus other activities is that kids can play at any time of day. Unlike any other major sport, youth can play golf by themselves, or with friends. Besides, it’s great exercise - during a round, you are apt to walk anywhere from five to seven kilometers.
Kentville resident Bob Holland is a parenting expert on kids in golf. His twin sons, James and Samuel, started playing golf at KenWo at the age of five and have since gone on to earn golf scholarships at the University of Victoria.
“Have patience with them,” says Holland. “Get them into lessons early to establish good fundamentals.”
Parents also need to teach and model good behaviour, respect and etiquette.
“I tell them that I will tolerate poor playing but not poor behaviour,” he says. To become good, kids must also enjoy practising.
The kids seem to really enjoy playing golf, too. As Ashton, seven, says, “I like hitting the ball hard and far.”
And when you’re a kid, there’s nothing more important than that!
Laura Churchill Duke (www.valleyfamilyfun.ca) hasn't tried golf yet but, if it's as much fun as mini golf, she thinks it's definitely worth a try!