“When interviewing instructors for your junior program, look for enthusiastic, knowledgeable, experienced, and patient individuals,” says Matt Kilgariff, PGA Director of Player Development at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe (Calif.). “Seek out instructors who are excellent communicators and are positive and encouraging.”
Second in a two-part series. Read the first article HERE.
HIRE THE RIGHT INSTRUCTORS
To create a dynamic junior program, be sure to hire instructors who have been educated to focus on teaching and developing young golfers of all abilities and levels. When interviewing instructors for your junior program, look for enthusiastic, knowledgeable, experienced, and patient individuals. Seek out instructors who are excellent communicators and are positive and encouraging.
Create small group sessions for beginning golfers, to help them learn the basics of the game, cultivate new friendships, and be the start of building “their” golf club community. Be sure you and your instructors promote fair play with integrity.
At this age, focus on basic fundamentals: Grip/Posture/Ball Position/Alignment. Create a series of fast-paced stations where kids work through these fundamentals. To prevent boredom, keep time at each station to no more than 30 minutes.
I strongly recommend that your instructors become TPI Certified Junior Coaches. This program outlines how to teach juniors by developing athletes first and competitive golfers second.
As a child advances to the intermediate stages of junior golf, more focused instruction and a solid game plan are important. Be sure to emphasize the power of mental strength and physical fitness.
REMEMBER THAT IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
Instructors who understand the needs of junior players are extremely important. Equally important is understanding the needs of the parent(s) or guardian(s). Parents will want to make sure their children are being led in a positive direction that sets them up for their own personal success, both on and off the course.
A superior junior golf program is led by instructors who understand the importance of involving a child’s family in their development and keeping an open line of communication.
A personal connection with the parent or guardian will also be beneficial, in the event you need to ask them to become more or “less” involved with their child’s development. It may also be important if you ever need volunteers to assist with events.
Encourage family members to spend time with their children on the course, working on drills and playing some of the games they have learned in your programs. A successful program will focus on the importance of family involvement.
DESIGNING YOUR PROGRAM
Keep these essential elements at the forefront of your program plan:
1. Safety First—Make safety for your coaching team and junior golfers your top priority.
2. Educate—Host a parent/guardian education session. Create an agenda for the session. Inform them with a detailed presentation on how and what your plan is for helping their children grow and succeed.
3. Etiquette and Respect—Successful junior programs spell out the written and unwritten rules of the game and for personal conduct. Make sure to present the rules in a clear and concise manner, and reinforce them throughout the stages of your program.
4. Do NOT Overcoach — Remember, kids want to have fun! Refrain from “overcoaching.” Let them experiment. They will learn more and grow faster with trial and error. We all learn as much from our failures as we do from our successes.
5. Never Be a Child’s Last Coach — Make it your goal to “never be a child’s last coach” in any sport.
Matt Kilgariff is a PGA professional who spent much of his career working for Butch Harmon and the Harmon Family. He is currently the Director of Player Development at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Prior to joining The Bridges, Kilgariff was Director of Player Development at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Matt has also been part of TaylorMade’s National Advisory Staff since 2012.
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