Primary focus: Building fundamental movement and overall motor skills. The ADM emphasizes what it calls the ABC’s of athleticism: agility, balance, coordination and speed. Nothing about practice is formal at this point. It’s about falling in love with the game and learning how to play well with others. Par 3 courses are perfect for getting on-course experience, though any course can be shortened to an appropriate length.
Competition level: Group fun! It’s not about who wins.
What the coach recommends: Joanna Coe’s junior program in Baltimore is closing in on 300 participants. Coe says it’s important to divide golfers into smaller age groups at this stage so that kids don’t feel too far behind or that they’re not strong enough. Otherwise, they’ll lose interest quickly.
Coe, a former Symetra Tour player, borrowed a daddy-daughter clinic idea that she picked up on the road at a tournament in Charlotte for her club in Baltimore. Another popular activity: transforming the practice green into a miniature golf championship. Ice cream truck included.
It’s important at this stage that kids play with age-appropriate equipment. Cut-down irons from mom or dad’s old set gets kids into bad habits early on as they compensate for clubs that are too heavy. A set from Amazon that includes a driver that’s as tall as the child’s nose isn’t helpful either. Rely on the professionals to get correct clubs.
Coach says: “As a kid, I probably sucked it inside and came over the top because my clubs were too heavy. Now my girls are lagging it like Sergio.”
Athletic Skills: Agility, balance, coordination, skipping, hopping, throwing/tossing and cathing away from body with either hand, flexibility, strength.
Technical Skills: Continued focus on fundamental movement skills. Developing putting, chipping and full-swing skills.
Psychological Development: Concentration, teach-ability, learning to make choices, respect, understanding rules, coping with success and failure, problem solving.
Social Development: Learning to cooperate with and help other children, being considerate to other people. Wanting to do their best. Showing responsibility through completing simple tasks.
Practice: No formal guidelines! At this age, it’s about positive experience and participation based on a child’s interest level.
Competition: Continuing to have fun and improving upon skills! Not competition for score or against one another. Fun activities in a group environment.
Equipment: Age appropriate clubs should include: putter, lofted iron, appropriately loft and length driver.
Where to play: Everywhere! (Golf course, park, gymnasium, mini golf, backyard, school playground, living room, etc.) 3, 6 or 9 holes when on the course (at shortened yardages)