One alternative is that you ask the club pro if there are any slow times during the week that your child can slip on the course to play two or three holes. Frequently, the 2-3 p.m. time slot is available. Also check to see if there are any par 3 courses in the area. The more your child plays, the more the comfort level increases.
Relief could be on the way. Community leaders are starting to realize that with the growth in golf, they need to set up youth facilities that mirror those already in place for soccer, baseball and football. Columbia, South Carolina, for instance, opened Junior Golf Land last year, an 18-hole facility on which only kids may play until 5 p.m. Adults can use the course after 5 p.m. but they must be accompanied by a child. The recreation department in Leewood, Kansas, has a similar facility.
The other move afoot is the establishing of so-called little leagues of golf. The NMJGF and Florida-based Hook-A-Kid-On-Golf are both promoting such programs. The concept is to form six-player teams of comparable ability and match them up once or twice a week in a head-to-head format. Hook-A-Kid-On-Golf, for one, is sending how-to manuals to golf clubs across the country in hopes that some parent or parent groups will make the league their project. Contact your club pro to see if he has received such information. Or contact the Hook-A-Kid-On-Golf (800-729- 2057) or the NMJGF.
Finally, as the competitive juices get boiling in your child, find out what junior tournaments are being held in your area. You may have to travel some weekends, but think of all the joy your child will be getting. That alone is worth the price of gas.
INTRODUCE YOUR KIDS TO THE GAME OF TENNIS
For all the hand-wringing that has gone on over tennis players turning professional too young, the truth remains that the best way to get a child hooked on tennis is to introduce the game early. The best scenario you can hope for is that your infant grows up watching you, your spouse or a sibling playing the game and later starts dabbling with it himself. You can introduce the tools of the trade between age 4 and 5, start them off in lessons from age 6 to 9, and sit back and wat
ch those competitive juices take hold from age 10 and above. Barring that — and rest assured that very few people adhere to the aforementioned timeable — do everything within your power to keep the game challenging and fun for your child, no matter what age he or she starts out.
“If the parents are gung-ho about tennis and share in the process, that makes learning the game more palatable for a child,” says Denise Jordan, Eastern Sectional Coordinator for the United States Tennis Association’s Play Tennis American program. “Plus, if the game is seen as fun and recreation, that’s a much more positive stimulant.”
What you don’t want is for your child to see tennis