Well, one of our readers asked about her 15 year daughter coming down with a serious Golf Flu and asked me how to practice and what kind of program she should follow.
As a person who went through all that, here are my answers:
Lessons, how often and from whom?
For lessons, you need to first find a good teacher. Try to sought out a local pro who has “experience” in pro tournament play. It doesn’t have to be the PGA Tour, but the pro you take lessons should at least be able to break par every now and then. Try to find a pro who gives you a “personalized” lesson, not a “do it this way or you die” type of a pro.
Every golfer has their own perfect swing. A great teacher will help him/her find that. There’s no textbook “set way” on how to swing the club. Pros who condone that are the ones to stay away from.
There are lots of self-claimed “pros” that have no tournament experience and will not get your kid to play well under pressure nor teach well. DO NOT take lessons from pros who sit on a chair all day. Try to find someone who is also willing to take your kid out on the course for course strategy lessons.
Are the golf academies worth it?
Golf academies are worthless. Most golf academies put you with several teachers that will only confuse your junior golfer. Try to stick with “private” one-on-one lessons and get personalized lessons. But golf camps are fun for the junior golfers.
How much and how often should you practice?
Your junior golfer should play more often than practice until she can break par. My recommendation is to practice about 1 hour on the range (a bucket of balls), 1 hour on chipping/putting, and the rest of time on the course. Always practice your short game as much as your full shots, that’s the key to breaking par.
Is the range a good place to focus before going to the course?
Yes, most pros actually spend about 15-20 minutes warming up on the range before they hit the course. You definitely need to warm up before playing, otherwise it’s like working out from a cold start.
You don’t need great equipment to start out. A lot of new golfers buy new golf clubs and never play golf at all.
You can go to Play It Again Sports or buy some used clubs at your local golf shop to begin with.
After your kid breaks 80, you can go buy her/him a “custom-tailored” set matching her height and angles. But you don’t need this in the beginning unless you have money to throw away. Besides, nothing can be “custom-tailored” right until your kid breaks at least 80, which is a good sign she has a consistent swing.
Where should a teenager be with the game after a certain period of time?
Well, it depends. It took me about 4 years before I broke 90. (I was 13…) Golf is not easy but if your daughter is 15 years old, she will need to break 80 in the next year or two to be competitive.
In all, try to enjoy the game. Having the goal to have fun will improve her game more than anything. Trying to be too competitive will only kill her efforts. Short game is really the key again because short game requires more “feel” and practice than any lessons can give you. My advice is to practice the short game more than anything on the extra time allotted.
Also, do not burn out your child, let your kid be a normal kid and enjoy life. There’s no need to practice/play golf all day long. You need to keep your kid’s desire in check and fresh. No food taste the same after eating it 100 days in a row, just use your common sense.
I hope that helps and let me know if my advice helped your daughter!