The goal of every golf parent should be to act in a way that increases the likelihood of having a positive golf experience with his or her young golfer. In last month’s blog post, we introduced the first five of 10 Keys to Being a Great Golf Parent. In this month’s article, we present the second half of the list. We encourage you to use this list as a guideline for raising your junior golfer.
6. Calm the waters. Golf is an emotional sport, especially for competitive juniors who are trying to manage their own expectations and do the best they can to impress and please their parents and coaches. Parents that understand this, would be wise to react calmly to the natural peaks and valleys of competition. Steadiness from parents will enable young golfers to focus on long-term improvement, a requirement for those will high aspirations.
7. Memorize the magic five words. After watching a round of golf for 4-6 hours, most parents can’t wait to share their advice (and sometime their criticism) as soon as the round is over. But take it from me, this is the worst time to offer feedback. Instead, I recommend memorizing and repeating the following phrase: “I love watching you play.” That means being engaged and present and looking for opportunities to catch them doing something right rather than pointing out mistakes and second guessing them.
8. Hold your child accountable for his or her effort. In golf, coaches and players only get to spend a small fraction of time together. Therefore, it’s up parents to ensure that their child is following the directions of their coach and investing an appropriate amount of time on their game. I can tell you firsthand that our number one priority with students is to establish a supportive and trusting relationship. We can remind students of what’s required to play high level golf but we have limited control or leverage over how they actually spend their time.
9. Make school work and family responsibilities the highest priorities. As parents and coaches, we should be most concerned with raising young man and women of high character and strong values. The best way to do that is to assign appropriate priorities to school work and family responsibilities. By their over-the-top reactions, too many parents unknowingly present golf as the #1 priority. On a related note, most young golfers are over committed and struggling to get enough sleep and recovery time. It’s up to parents to enforce appropriate bed times and impose necessary restrictions on social media.
10. Forget about the score. That’s right, I said forget about the score. In a sport that takes years to master, your son or daughter’s record will be filled with bad rounds and poor scores. I urge you to keep your eye focused on the long run. This will help encourage your child to do the same. Improvement and good scores will be your likely reward for taking a more long-term view.
Jeff Isler shares his observations, insights, and experiences on the game of golf and those that play it at a high level.