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Why Your Kids Should Learn to Play Golf

 

 
With each successive generation, as a society we find more ways to occupy our free time. We’re also getting pretty good at occupying our children’s time, with team sports and music lessons and a whole host of other organized activities that didn’t exist even a decade ago. And this doesn’t even begin to touch on the thousands of entertainment options kids have at their fingertips right now.


 
Golf may be less popular than other team sports, but it is great  activity for your child to participate in to get some fresh air and exercise, and teach them the life lessons of hard work, dedication, teamwork and sportsmanship. We’ll take a look at some very compelling reasons why you should consider starting your children on the links at a young age. We offer golf lessons to children of all ages here in the North Bay and Petaluma area.

Outdoor Activity

In the age of video games and high-definition televisions, it’s no secret that kids don’t spend enough time outdoors. Add in the mounting pressure in our children’s academic lives, and it may seem like having kids spend their free time outdoors, whatever they may be doing, is a waste of time that could otherwise be used productively.

It would be wise for us to resist this mindset, though. For children, the health benefits of spending time outdoors far outweigh any negative consequences they might incur. The most obvious benefit is exercise. Getting kids involved in golf and walking the course is a great way of getting them involved in a form of low-impact, cardiovascular activity that will help combat obesity and keep them active.
 
Some researchers are starting to uncover some other unlikely benefits of outdoor activity, as well. The eye condition known as myopia, or literal short-sightedness, has seen a frightening boom in this most recent generation. Researchers have been investigating cause and effect, but one explanation is gaining traction in all corners of the community.


 
Experts believe that the epidemic of short-sightedness has been caused primarily by the drastic reduction in the time kids spend outdoors. There is still some disagreement over the exact cause, but the two most popular competing theories are that kids aren’t being exposed to enough bright light indoors, and that they are spending too much of their time with their eyes focused on close objects like books and screens, rather than on far-away objects found outdoors.

Whichever of these theories proves to carry the most weight, all experts agree that three hours a day outdoors can greatly reduce a child’s risk of myopia. It takes longer than that to walk a golf course. Need we say more?

Exercise

Participating in sports is the easiest way to get a child some exercise. But with all of the important discussions occurring surrounding the issue of concussions in contact sports, parents can be hesitant to let their kids play football and soccer. This caution is understandable. Unfortunately, telling kids to “go outside and run around” is no longer as easy as it was, before the days when all of their favorite timewasters were inside on screens.

If you are looking to get your child involved in a competitive sport that carries a low risk for serious injury, golf is an excellent option. While it may not offer the high-impact cardio workout of basketball or soccer, walking an entire 18 holes is still quite a workout. And since swinging a club requires some strength through your upper body, golf is definitely a full-body workout, even if it isn’t quite as strenuous as faster-paced sports.


 
A round of golf will burn about 1442 calories for an adult male carrying clubs, whereas an hour of full-court basketball will burn only 400 calories. These numbers wouldn’t hold specifically for children, obviously, but the comparison holds true. A round of golf might take longer to complete, but it also burns more calories by the end of the day.

Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility is an important trait for kids to learn, and parents use every trick in the book to teach these lessons, starting with household chores. To be sure, we want to teach our kids to be respectful, thoughtful members of society who contribute more than they take. As kids grow up, it becomes important to expose them to situations outside the house, so they can learn that personal responsibility isn’t just something they have to practice with mom and dad.

Golf can be a great way to expose your kids to situations where their actions have a direct impact on those around them. Fixing divots and sand traps, for example, is expected of every single golfer on the course, whether anyone is looking or not. Fellow golfers won’t care who messed up the course, only that everyone else is leaving the course as they found it. You children will learn from the very first round how important it is to take responsibility for their actions.
Etiquette
Hand in hand with personal responsibility is etiquette. Golf is full of unwritten — and written — rules of conduct that all golfers are expected to follow. Learning these rules can definitely serve a young golfer well on the course and in real life.

On the course and in the real world, treating other people with dignity and respect is crucial to building relationships. We have no doubt you are teaching these lessons in your own house, but reinforcement through interacting with others is a powerful teaching tool.

Generally speaking, fellow golfers will be polite enough to show your kids that, when you give respect and kindness, you get it right back. And for those rare instances where the favor is not returned, your child can learn the equally-valuable lesson of dealing with unhappy people.
Handling Competition
 

 
Golf may not be a full-contact sport, but it can still be highly competitive, and is a great way to teach your kids how to handle competition in a healthy way. Handling competition is another important life lesson, and the sooner kids learn it, the better equipped they are to deal with childhood and the real world.
Kids should learn that it’s good to win, but also that it’s okay to lose. The real world doesn’t hand out participation trophies. Learning how to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat can help students in the classroom out in the job search and the working world.

Competition is healthy, and it can be productive. Golf, more than other sports, can be a first-hand teaching tool for children to learn how to deal with the pressure that comes along with competition. We say more than other sports because:
You have no one to blame but yourself
 

 
Whether you are competing against another member of your foursome or against a previous personal score, you alone hold the keys and responsibility for your own success. Sure, there are team formats for golfing, but a large majority of your time on the course is going to be marked by individual competition.

This means that, when you lose, that loss is yours to bear — and when you win, that win is yours to celebrate. Unlike team sports, you can’t point fingers at teammates and accuse them of costing you the game. There is no pitcher who gave up ten runs in an inning, no defensive back who missed an assignment on a touchdown pass, no forward who missed five foul shots in a four-point game.

You alone avoided the sand traps and putted well enough to keep your score down. And you alone missed the fairway and added three strokes to your round on Hole 14. The individual nature of the sport allows children to confront winning and losing first-hand, with no one else to hide behind. And as long as you, as a parent, are there to help them learn how to deal with it productively, the long-term payback is tremendous.
Emotional Maturity
Golf can also help children confront and deal with complicated emotions, providing a safe arena to wrestle with them without the real-world consequences of playing out real-life scenarios. Your fortunes can turn on a dime during a round of golf. Things can be going your way one minute and then plummet into chaos the next.


 
A round of golf can teach lessons about in-the-moment concentration and big-picture thinking. Again, whether you are competing against the other members of your foursome or against your score from last time, golf forces you to focus on your current circumstance while not losing sight of the round as a whole.

In short, golf can teach your children how to keep things in perspective. If you focus and do well on each shot, you will end up with a positive outcome. But one bad shot will not ruin an entire 18-hole round of golf. And sometimes, the outcome of your shot is influenced by factors beyond your control. No competition, in life or in sports, takes place in a vacuum. External influences are a part of life.

Bobby Jones said it best: “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots — but you have to play the ball where it lies.”
Self-Improvement
 

 
All of the personal responsibility involved in playing a round of golf offers a myriad chances to improve yourself — as a golfer and as a person. The process of getting better at something is itself a skill that will serve your children well in life. If they take their present abilities as the limit of their capability, or if they assume they will automatically get better with experience, they won’t reach their full potential. Real, substantial improvement comes from pushing yourself and putting in the time and effort to develop your skills.

This sounds like a generic life lesson, and it is. But golf is the perfect sandbox for your children to work on self-improvement skills, for all of the reasons we have mentioned so far. A golfer controls his or her own success to a degree that no other sport can claim. Even in other individual sports, such as track and field, a given day’s performance can depend on a wide variety of factors — how well your muscles are stretched out, how much sleep you got last night, or even what you had for lunch that day.

Your golf game can certainly be influenced by physical factors, but given the less-physically-taxing nature of the sport, this is unlikely. This makes it harder for you to chalk up a bad day to factors beyond your control. It clears all barriers out of your way, so you can focus on being better today than you were yesterday.

Feedback from your improvement is also immediate. If you have been working on your swing, you will see that difference in each shot you take. If you are working on your decision-making, that will also bear fruit that very day on the course.

This self-improvement isn’t just limited to a child’s golf skills. Etiquette, personal responsibility and emotional maturity are also areas of one’s life where a little bit of self-improvement will go a long way. And the best part is that they might not even be aware of their own improvement in these areas.


 
Wanting to get better at something is a healthy desire, and one that will serve children well throughout their entire lives. Not only will it help to improve their golf game, but it will also shine through and be noticed in school, and by their future employers, as well.
Discipline
Of course, wanting to get better at something and actually summoning up the gumption to put in the work are two entirely different things. Since golf is, as Bobby Jones so eloquently stated, “a game played on a five-inch-course — the distance between your ears,” it requires a healthy dose of mental discipline to truly improve.

One area where video games have been detrimental to childhood development is in the development of discipline. In the virtual world, there are no consequences — just an endless supply of do-overs. On the golf course, however, every shot counts. You are forced to deal with the outcome of each individual decision and action. If you didn’t use enough club and shorted the green, you have to chip yourself out of the sand trap.

To excel in golf, you must exercise discipline in each practice session, each lesson and each stroke on the course. Unlike in a team sport, you can’t take a few plays off and hope your teammates pick up your slack.
Business Tool
The golf course deal is a common trope in the business world, mostly because it is actually true. We won’t go so far as to make a hyperbolic statement like, “most business is done on the golf course,” because there’s no way to know that. However, you have to figure that this idea would have died out a long time ago if there wasn’t any substance to back it up.

The course is also a great place to interact with business partners. Business partners can get a feel of how you are in business by whether or not you following the rules, take care of the course, how disciplined you are. They take your values on the course and equate them to the business world.

Lastly, the course is a great location for networking. Networking and relationship-building is an essential tool in a successful professional’s arsenal. And while much of it happens on a convention floor or in a meeting room, it also takes place on the golf course, where people tend to loosen up a bit. It goes a lot smoother when you look like you know what you’re doing out there.

Getting your child started on the path to being a competent golfer at an early age will give them a very important tool for career success.

Family Time
If you are a golfer, nothing would make you more proud than to share a course with your children. Four straight hours of quality time is a luxury most parents can only dream of, let alone four hours of an outdoor family activity.

However, we have reached a point where we would do well to reiterate the title of this piece: “Why kids should learn golf.” The title was not: “Why you should drag your kids along to the golf course.” Getting your children golf lessons and allowing them to make the decision of whether or not they want to pick up the sport would be better than taking the opposite approach and forcing them to take yet another type of lesson.

Teaching your children how to golf creates the opportunity for another important bonding activity, which will help strengthen your relationship with your children. We would hope that your children would be enthusiastic about picking up an activity that is so important to their parents, making the whole endeavor an enriching family activity rather than a less desirable alternative.

In any event, if you approach golfing with your kids as a fun family activity, you might actually be able to enjoy it as a fun family activity. If you can manage that, everybody wins.
Fun for a Lifetime
Most of all, the game of golf is fun. Regardless of how well you’re hitting your driver, or how well you’re putting, you’re still spending four hours on a golf course — often the most beautiful acreage in your community. And when you are playing well, there isn’t a feeling on earth that can compare to that sense of pride and accomplishment.

Even if your children decide not to take up golf seriously, the ability to walk onto a course and know what they’re doing will serve them well throughout life.


 
There will come a time when the basketball player’s knees won’t let him jump like he used to, or when a baseball player has lost too many miles-per-hour from his fastball, or when a football player can’t run fast enough to be useful. But golf is truly a game for all ages. CD Madsen, a member of the club, is 98 years old and still plays three times a week.

If you can instill in your children a love of the game at an early age, as well as a desire to improve their skills and continue that mindset throughout their lives, they will have found a passion that can sustain them for decades.
Getting Your Kids Started Today
If you are looking for a place to sign your children up for golf lessons in the North Bay Area here in California, look no further than Marin Country Club. Our helpful, knowledgeable staff will provide your children with the best possible environment in which to enjoy the game of golf.

Our club provides a safe environment for your children, among adult members out on the course and in the golf facilities, where everyone shows respect for all of their fellow golfers. Hopefully we’ve sold you on why your kids should learn golf, and we hope you’ll contact us about membership and getting your kids involved in our Junior Golf program.