Making the Game Easier, and More Fun, for Youngsters
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2019-08-05
By GORD MONTGOMERY, Inside Golf
Golf is hard. Enough said.
So in an effort to make success a bit easier for the wee ones just getting a grip on the game, some golf courses in north-central Alberta have stepped outside the (tee) box, to ensure those beginners acquire a taste for the game. In the world of golf, unlike many other sports of today, thinking outside the pre-set parameters is a difficult thing to do because golf is so rooted in its history.
These ideas include an interesting twist to shortening the ‘course’. Adam Bruce from the Glendale Golf & Country Club in Edmonton said he’s begun doing just that, to an extreme, with his junior charges. The end result of that is success for the kids in capital letters.
“What we have is called the Operation 36 Framework where kids actually start at 25 yards out on every hole. This is done in correlation with our junior program, where if they shoot 36 (or better over nine holes) from 25 yards, then the next week they’ll play from 50 yards,” until the same success is met there, and so on until they’re up to speed on the actual course, Bruce explained.
“It’s to get kids making some birdies, pars, having fun and the feeling of success. With this program there’s a lot less stress and disappointment,” he added.
In Stony Plain, it’s realized that getting kids onto a full-sized layout and having success can be a challenge. That though is being tempered by putting in play a little course all their own.
“What we have here is a four-hole short course that’s great for kids and which is off the tee sheet,” said Rob Pfau. “You just play as you want. It gets kids into the game in a place where they’re not stressed about keeping up to the pace of play, things that you’d get on a big course.”
For Many Kids, The Hand-Eye Coordination Issue When They First Start The Game Of Golf Can Be Overcome By Causual Instruction At An Early Age, Where Successes Can Result In A Lifelong Love Of The Game.' (Photo/Gord Montgomery)
The Small Fry course in Stony features holes that run anywhere from about 20 yards up to 80 and is set alongside the 18-hole public layout. It features ‘fairways’ bordered by rough and large ‘greens’ that are simply closely trimmed grass. The holes are larger than normal to simplify the putting end of the game, ensuring quicker success and the thus the desire to continue with the game.
Over at the Glendale, the new program has been a huge success although there is a caveat in play there.
“A lot of the kids aren’t going to pass the first time but after they get a couple of classes in, we’ve had a pretty high success rate of passing from the 25-yard mark,” said Bruce. “We have a couple of kids that are already all the way back to 150!”
Another idea that’s growing in popularity is being chipped into play at Coal Creek Golf Resort, east of Edmonton. While the junior markers have yet to be placed on the fairways there, head pro Jerry Lukasewich noted they likely will be next year.
“What we’ll do next year is put some Orange tees out for the kids and have them start in the fairways,” from varying lengths dependent on how long the actual hole is. “It makes the course a lot shorter, especially on the par 5s.”
As a professional, it’s vital that the younger generations come into the game and have success therefore making them wish to stay involved with the game, noted Lukasewich.
“You have to create a fun factor for them. In anything in life, you want to have them have little successes. If they can go out and have one good hole over nine, that’s what you want to focus on. That one good drive. That sort of stuff.”
To Pfau, it’s imperative that parents make the game fun for the kids because that’s where success stems from. To that end there are a few things mom and dad can do to ensure success does come to the youngsters.
“I think there’s lot of pressure to become a prodigy,” he began about pressure put on kids to succeed beyond realistic expectations. “It would be awesome if your kid could get school out of golf but numbers-wise it is tough to do anything more than that. Pushing them at six is not going to make them any better at 16. We’re worried about kids having fun rather than getting way better at golf. We see few students that improve by leaps and bounds,” but given the programs in place, or coming down the line, the fun factor is certainly on the tee at golf courses around the Edmonton area.
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