Junior Golf – How can we improve our Junior programs to increase participation?

Posted on: June 22, 2015 Written by: Jake Killeen

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If I had the luxury of choosing where I could concentrate my time as a golf coach, it would be with out doubt Junior Golf Development.

Having access to juniors from an early age gives me the best opportunity to have the biggest impact on a players golfing life. Their early development is crucial to their ultimate success of reaching their full potential.

Unfortunately I see too many kids come into the game and leave within a school term. Hey, I can't blame them with several sports to choose from at their fingertips, why choose golf? There are so many other active sports and less intimidating individual sports such as tennis and athletics.

So how do we attract more kids to the game, but more importantly keep them in the game?

To me, two main ingredients are required;

1. Our golf programs need to be ever changing and need to include on course participation at least half the time. Don't get caught up in how they 'should' be swinging the club. Keep your program concentrated on the 'game' of golf. Learn how to coach a group session at it's most efficient and effective way (I will post on this soon), if a parent is worried that you are not attending to their child enough, don't let that affect you. Calmly mention that this is a group learning environment and you do offer 1 on 1 lessons.
2. Our passion for their development can not be over looked. The kids DO respond to the emotion you put into your coaching whether they know it or not. Your passion impacts their perception of the game. Even if they do leave the junior squad, if you have done your job, they should never forget the game. Once they have tried other sports and experienced time away from the game, the golf experience that you have given them will encourage them back to the game in the future, what ever age that is.

Try and put yourself in the kids shoes for a minute. Would you prefer games, playing on course and team interaction? or individual skill work with limited games, comps and course play? Learning will happen when the child's participation increases within the squad. I find, when the child is emotionally attached to the group or coach and ultimately the game, you won't loose them to any other sport. (I do encourage kids to play a range of sports for learning)

Below is a short movie of a junior squad I have been looking after for a semester at their school. It is so exciting to see them out playing the game we have been learning on their school grounds for 4 months.

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