Golf is a great way to practice family health and fitness, but it can be intimidating if you’ve never played before.
Saturday, June 10 is National Family Health and Fitness Day. Exercise is an important family activity, but it can be a challenge to find something everyone will enjoy. Not every family member loves going for a run, doing yoga or hitting the basketball court and not every activity is ideal for larger groups or families with a wide age range.
However, there is one activity that checks all the boxes – golf! From 5 to 95, golfers of all ages can find enjoyment on the course. Different levels of game play and golf handicaps provide an even playing field. Also, walking from hole to hole provides a low intensity but effective workout. And even if you choose the golf cart over walking, just being out in nature provides a multitude of health benefits such as reduced stress, improved sleep and lower blood pressure. And the best health benefit of all? Strengthening familial ties, which are linked to a longer life.
Golf is a great way to celebrate and practice family health and fitness, but it can be intimidating if you’ve never played before. Never fear – check out the tips below to get ready for the golf course.
Tips for beginners
Golf is a simple game and is easy to learn once you know what to focus on:
Tip one: A great shot begins before you swing your club; it starts with your stance, foot position, posture and weight distribution. Keeping your feet shoulder width apart and your toes pointed straight in front of you. To get into the right posture, you want to bend at the hips while keeping your back straight, push out your back and bend your knees. Keep your weight evenly distributed and remember that your power comes from your legs, hips and core – not your arms.
Tip two: Use a strong grip. Place your leading hand, or the hand closest to the ball, near the top of the golf club, then wrap the pinky of your other hand around the club and rest it on the index finger of your leading hand. You can also interlock the two for a firmer grip.
Tip three: Golf is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Find ways to keep focused like creating a pre-shot routine. For example, take a step back and visualize your shot, do a specific stretch before each swing, or practice a calming breathing technique.
Tips for young children
It’s no easy task to keep small children entertained, but it is possible of course:
Tip one: Keep it simple. Don’t get caught up in golf terms when trying to explain how to play. Often, visuals are better than verbal, so show them how it’s done! It may even help to exaggerate your motions.
Tip two: Let them call the shots. To you, there may be a “right” way to do things. You may want to focus on showing the correct way to grip the club or how to perfect a putt. But for many kids, they are there to hit the ball. Let them explore the game in their own time and share pointers along the way.
Tip three: Don’t worry about the results. Put the emphasis on having fun together. There are so many lifelong benefits to golf that it doesn’t really matter if you’re good or bad. Try adding mini games like HORSE or aiming for different targets to help keep younger kids engaged.
Tips for your kids’ gear
The gear you choose for your child will be based on a few things: the number of clubs, size and the material of the shaft:
Tip one: The USGA will allow 14 clubs, but most young golfers only need eight to 10 clubs. The must-have clubs are the putter, pitching wedge, sand wedge, the driver, and the three, five, seven and nine irons.
Tip two: Many golf club sets will be specifically built for a certain height range. The size of a golf club will affect a golfer’s swing and their ability to aim at the ball – too long and it will be harder to hit the ball, too short and your posture will be affected.
Tip three: A kids’ club is made with a graphite shaft. This material is lighter and easier for younger players to maneuver. As your child gets older, the material will get heavier.
While the weather is warming up, summer is a great time to get into golf. It’s often less expensive and with more daylight hours there is plenty of time to practice. And there’s no time like the present to get your family started!
Whatever the skill level, golf is a sport that your family can play together for years to come.
Shawn Lasher is the marketing director for Thompson Golf Group and is a certified PGA professional with over 20 years of experience in the golf industry. Founded in 1999, Thompson Golf Group currently owns four golf properties: Power Ranch Golf Club in Gilbert; Longbow Golf Club in Mesa; Dove Valley Ranch Golf Club in Cave Creek; and Geneva Golf Club in Alexandria, Minn.