Golfing can be a great family pastime and wonderful sport for kids, but you’ll need to be sure that your children understand more than just the rules of the game. Etiquette is very important at the course, and you’ll want to take the time to ensure that your children are well-behaved before you start teaching the secrets of a good swing.
One of the best ways to teach golfing etiquette to your kids is to bring them along as spectators the next time you go golfing. You’ll want to be sure that the course allows this, of course; you may need to do a bit of research to find a family-friendly golf course in your area.
Once you’ve settled on a location, allow yourself plenty of time to get through the game and teach your eager spectators about the rules as they come up. Showing them simple etiquette lessons throughout the course of a regular game will be much more effective and less overwhelming than trying to tell them everything at once.
Here are some fundamentals you’ll want to be sure your kids understand before they pick up a club for the first time:
Golf is a quiet sport and one that requires immense concentration. Making a lot of noise is sure to earn some unfriendly looks from your fellow golfers. Teach your kids the appropriate time to cheer and when to yell “fore!” to warn others of errant shots, but otherwise impress upon them the importance of lowering their voices and not being tempted to yell across the fairway.
Running can raise the risk of accidents and damage the turf. It’s also a distraction for other players. Be sure that your kids understand that golf is played at a more leisurely pace than some of the sports they might be familiar with, and discourage them from running across the green.
Remember the Dress Code
Every course has its own specific rules regarding how players should be dressed, but the basics are the same from one location to another. Men should wear dress slacks or shorts and a collared shirt. Women should wear slacks or a skirt and a collared shirt. You can help your child get involved with the game by buying a collared golf shirt and nice slacks to wear on this special occasion.
Don’t Disrupt the Pace of Other Players
It’s okay to take your time on the course, but holding up the game for other players is rude. It’s recommended that you let faster players play through ahead of you, especially while you’re learning and may be slow. Try to avoid socializing when it’s your turn to swing; wait until no one is waiting on you.
Respect the Course
There are certain things that every player is expected to do to ensure the health of the course. These include filling in or replacing divots on the green, fairway and tee boxes as well as taking sand in bunkers after you’ve passed through them. Show your kids how to use a divot tool, and let them practice during your game so they get used to this responsibility.
Observe the Right Order of Play
Although some concessions can be made for special circumstances, like letting a group move ahead of you when you know that you’ll be slow, play generally follows a specific order. The player farthest away from the pin hits first on each shot, and the winner of the previous hole is the first to tee off at the next. Point these out to your children as you go so that they can get into the rhythm of the game.
Don’t Mess Up Shots for Others
Unexpected things can damage a player’s concentration. Your child might not realize the importance of staying quiet while someone else is taking a shot. Be sure they know not to walk across the line of someone else’s putt on the green or crowd too close to anyone preparing to swing. If your kids are starting to get restless or have a hard time staying still during another player’s turn, it might be time to take a break for a while.
Many etiquette rules are also safety guidelines. You don’t want to do anything that might put you or someone else in danger of being hit by a stray ball. Be sure your kids know to wait until the group in front of you is out of range before you take a shot. Also let them know not to linger in places that they shouldn’t be or that would put them in range of someone’s shot. Finally, be sure they understand that golf should never be played when there’s a risk of lightning strike; be ready to pack it up if the weather turns foul.
Follow the Rules of the Game
Even if you’re playing for fun, it’s important to follow the rules laid out by the R&A and USGA. Don’t be tempted to let your kids cheat; if they’re not mature enough to play by the rules, they may not be ready to start playing yet. Even if you’re playing a different sort of game or golf challenge that does not follow the official rules, be sure that everyone knows and agrees to the rules before you start. Teach kids how to handle disagreements respectfully.
When you’re first teaching your kids to golf, you should bear in mind that a full game may last too long to hold their attention. Bored kids are prone to acting up, which will cause problems for everyone. Keeping that in mind, set your kids up for success by playing shorter rounds at first or playing other games on the course that can help to keep them entertained. Think up some “mini-games” or challenges that can give your new players an immediate goal to focus on, and you’ll be set for success.