If your child plays competitive golf you will see many different approaches from their parents and families. Different ways to support their favorite junior golfer and help them improve in this game we all love.
Here is the thing – not all of the approaches work. Some can add stress and make them hate playing in tournaments. Below I discuss several different actions/behaviors that I have observed or done myself and determine if they in fact help.
At the end of a tournament round, most golfers like to talk about their rounds. Discuss different shots and decisions they made during the round. Two pieces of advice for junior golf parents when it comes to the post-round debrief.
First, let your child start this conversation – no reason to force it as soon as the round ends if they are still decompressing.
Second, focus on the good stuff. Talk about where you were impressed by a shot or a decision. Far too often, parents like to immediately bring up the shot that went OB or when they feel their child picked the wrong club.
This can be challenging as a parent, but it is a fact that you should focus on the positive during the car ride home.
If you have been to a junior golf tournament, you have probably seen this – parents reacting negatively while watching their child play. It can be comical to observe. My personal favorite – is when the father storms around the woods kicking pine cones! Another common one is shaking their head or throwing their arms up in the air after a bad shot.
Keep in mind – your child is watching you. If you want them to maintain a positive demeanor and recover from bad shots, they need to see you acting in a stoic manner. They know they hit a bad shot – they don’t need to see you playing soccer with a pine cone.
Competitive golf is a grind. It is can be frustrating and heartbreaking to play. Regardless of the final score, make sure there is something fun built into your day. For my boys, that is always the post-round meal. Nothing heals a golf wound like a Chick Fila sandwich or a milkshake. Each bite of ice cream seems to magically remove the scars of 3-putts and double bogeys!
It is a fact that junior golf tournaments should be more than just golf.
A nice donut can fix any bad round on the course!
I see this happen most when parents are caddying for their kids. I absolutely love it when I get the chance to caddy, but you need to be very careful. I can be challenging. Of course, you want your child to play well and this can lead to frustration if they are having a tough day.
One thing we know for sure – getting into an argument on the course is never the right answer. Pay special attention to your comments after a poor shot. I promise your child knows it wasn’t a good shot, so you don’t need to bring it up. Instead, try to change the focus to the next shot. Do you think “Bones” ever looked at Phil and said, “well that was a terrible shot”….
Anytime you have the chance, compete with your junior golfer. This can be a parent-child tournament, a local 4-ball event, or a captain’s choice. The key is for them to see you trying (and probably failing sometimes) to play your best.
Win or lose, you will strengthen your golf relationship by being “in the fire” with them. Keep it low-stress and enjoy the time together.
Nothing better than your junior golfer carrying you around the course!
This one should be simple to avoid – you hit range balls prior to a tournament round to get loose and ready to play – this is not the right time for a swing lesson. Why micro-manage and analysis shots on the range?
My advice – let your golfer go to the range alone. If for some reason, they are getting frustrated while warming up, you can go over the provide some encouragement, but keep it simple. Probably a bad idea to talk about their swing path or shallowing out the club 10 minutes before their tee time.
My approach – if one of my boys is hitting it poorly on the range and is worried about their round, I come up with something crazy simple and hope they believe it. My go-to – “your tempo is a little quick” – this is not a fundamental swing change, but gives them a swing thought to help reduce the first tee jitters.
One bad round does not mean your child is a bad player. One bad tournament doesn’t mean they will never play well again. In the heat of the moment, a 5-foot putt for par can feel so important, but is it really?
Does your junior golfer’s life fundamentally change because of one shot, one round, or one tournament? Let them grow from the good and the bad – help them understand that bad shots or bad rounds don’t define them as a player or as a person.
In our family, we love the game of golf, but it is still just a game. This is a fact.
There are so many different ways now that our junior golfers are ranked. There are national rankings like Junior Golf Scoreboard and AJGA Rolex rankings. State golf associations have player rankings and many younger players are competing for a US Kids Local Tour season. The rankings are fun to monitor, but you need to be careful that this doesn’t become the primary focus.
My boys walked off the course and told me “well, that is going to kill my rankings”. Even worse, I have seen junior players WD from an event to try and avoid posting a number that would impact their ranking.
It is fine to enjoy looking at the rankings, but it shouldn’t become the focus or the goal. Play your best golf and the rankings will take care of themselves. Try to avoid discussing this type of thing with your junior golfer.
Here is a live look at our home golf course – we start practice in 2 weeks! ?
Leave your shorts in the draw and find those golf mittens. As a team, we probably need to buy a pack of hand warmers. Will we see our team jerseys this season or will they always be under a pullover? Team stocking caps is probably a good idea.
On a positive note, there has never been more interest in our golf program. We expect to have 6-9 freshmen join the team this year and we even got 4 seniors who are playing for the first time.
For my oldest son, this is his senior season. He does plan to play in college, but this will be his last chance to play for his high school. I am excited that we might be able to pull it off in such a challenging year.
Everything that I love about high school golf will still happen – I will just be much colder while enjoying it!
I have my fingers crossed – need some luck to avoid bad weather and/or COVID complications. Just hope the kids get a chance to play.
Of course, you don’t know it at the time, but playing team golf for your school is something you will never forget. You can play in tournaments until you are 105 years old, but playing for your local school and community ends when you turn 18 or so……when you think of it that way, who cares about a little frost or snow? Tee it UP!
About the author
Mike Harris is a former college golfer and dedicated father of two talented junior golfers. With a passion for the sport that began in his own childhood, Mike now focuses on helping his children, Avery and Olivia, navigate the world of junior golf. He’s eager to share tips, advice, and insights with other families on their own golf journeys. Join Mike as he tees off into the exciting realm of junior golf, providing guidance to parents and kids alike.