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By Tim Hofstetter
USGTF Level III Member
Corpus Christi, Texas

Parents often asked how old a child should be to start with golf lessons. There is no standard age to start, but this is often determined by the maturity and coordination of the child, and a lot depends on the type of instruction. I want to share with you a junior golf program I developed and teach for a private pre-school and afterschool program in Portland, Texas. The program consists of classes for ages 4, 5-7 and 8-10 years. The name of the program is known as Little Pin-Seeker. It is an enrichment program and is an extracurricular activity of the school program. The parents pay an additional enrollment fee for the golf activity. Little Pin-Seeker is designed to introduce youths to the game of golf in a fun manner. They learn golf skills with focus on muscular coordination, teamwork, social skills, etiquette, and knowledge of the game.

The Little Pin-Seeker program consists of three levels of achievement (Levels II, II and III), in which students progressively advance, with each level having a series of weekly classes for three weeks. The classes are 45 minutes in length, and a student-teacher ratio of 5:1 is maintained. The students must complete each level before advancing to the next level. At each level of the program, the instruction continues to enhance the youths’ knowledge of golf and improve their skills. At the end of each level, the youths are presented with a certificate of achievement.

For the younger age classes (4, 5-7 years old) some of the class work is accomplished inside the center, using golf learning books on the market for spelling and numbers, and golf-related coloring sheets. Each youth maintains a personal class folder with work accomplished and to store any handouts provided. This folder is their keepsake.

To accommodate golf classes outside, a grassy area is used adjacent to the center. There is plenty of room to accommodate fi ve teaching stations using wiffle balls. As the students progress to hitting real golf balls, a portable driving net system and putting carpet are used. Age- and size-appropriate golf clubs are provided by the center. All classes start off with group golf warm-up exercises and end with a cool-down period used to discuss the daily activity accomplished. At Level III, the youths are bused to a local golf course for a tour and to compete in a putting competition.

\The above is just one method and not the norm for getting youths started early in golf. Another good method is conducting child and parent and or grandparent clinics. This method of instruction provides interaction as a family, where the parent can assist the instructor and learn drills that can be conducted at home or the range with their child. This method of instruction is short-term, but has proved to stimulate interest in the game at a young age.

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