Getting kids involved with golf

By: Shawn Kelly, Journal Golf Columnist
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Junior golf is an incredibly popular sport right now for youngsters. Regionally, there are tournament programs such as the American Junior Golf Association’s local chapter and the Sacramento Area Youth Golf Association (SAY Golf) for young golfers who want to play competitively at their own level. Whatever a junior’s competency, there is likely a local program nearby that will fit the golfer’s needs. Here are some tips to help juniors get involved with golf: n Get your child into a PGA junior program. These programs teach basic fundamentals to young golfers and their peers in an appropriate atmosphere. Most programs will supply loaner clubs with which to learn, so parents won’t need to buy clubs until their children’s interest has fully developed. n When a junior does get serious, get him or her clubs that fit properly. Adult clubs that have been cut down typically don’t work because they are usually too stiff or heavy. Ill-fitting equipment will impair progress and ultimately discourage a promising junior. A dynamic club fitting with a competent PGA professional will work wonders. n Local school programs are awesome right now. Encouraging kids to try out for their school’s team is a great way to improve their tournament play. n Tournament golf is huge in Northern California. Before competing in tournaments, however, beginners should participate in a club at a local course or in a junior program to learn the basics. Juniors can then test their skills in area leagues like SAY Golf. Some may even want to compete in statewide or national events such as those sponsored by the Northern California PGA or the USGA. n A special note to parents: Just let the kids play. A slight push to get them started is great, but too much pressure seems to burn them out. Juniors will let you know when they become serious. Lend a helping hand by transporting them to and from tournaments and practices. However, you should let them succeed at their own pace. The Ridge is offering three two-day golf camps for juniors this summer. The camps will be on June 25-26, July 23-24 and August 6-7. All camps will be on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Fees will be $50 for members of The Ridge Junior Golf Club $60 for non-members. These camps will cover the fundamentals of the swing, short game and putting. The camps will also feature daily skills contests and games. To get kids involved with the game, find the best program for them individually, then stand back and let them excel. Shawn Kelly is a PGA professional at The Ridge Golf Club. He can be reached for questions or lessons at (530) 888-PUTT.