New Zealand

THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAYING THE GAME

There are two very important words in U.S. Kids Golf’s ongoing mission to help kids have fun learning to play golf: fun and play. Learning is key too, but that is a different discussion.

When you think of a word like play, what comes to mind? Kids running around the yard? Sports? Getting the game going (Baseball Ump: “Let’s play ball!”)?

Three definitions of the word play offer a few ideas:

“The action or conduct of a game”
“Exercise or activity for amusement or recreation”
Fun or jest as opposed to seriousness”

The first definition speaks to the way (specifically, the rules) a game or sport is supposed to be performed. The second definition looks at attitude; it presents a frame of mind that is joyful and lighthearted. The third definition pits the purpose of playing against its opposite: a state of being stern or humorless with respect to the sport.

All three of these are important parts of what I mean when I say the word play, especially in thinking about the best way to involve kids in the game and get them excited about playing more.

Traditionally, the game has been taught in the order of the above definitions: 1) Structure and rules first, 2) some semblance of amusement or recreation next, and 3) finally, kids or newcomers develop an attitude about the game that will either keep them playing or see them avoiding the golf course with passion.

This is what we hope to change.  This is where fun comes back.  We want to make the game as fun as possible for kids before making structure and rules available to them, should they seek to dive deeper into the game.

Like in any other game, kids should be playing golf before practicing golf.

Golf should be amusing before serious, enjoyable before rigorous, and fun before overly structured.  Only then will kids will come to learn to love the game that we already do so much.

We do believe, rules, proper coaching, and correct fitting are important for kids, but going to the driving range should never be a chore. The ideal start for a new golfer is in a less-stressful environment with parents or friends. 

A desire to learn more about golf should come from an already-formed desire to keep playing it because you enjoy it.

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