Advice for Golf Parents

It is not easy being a ‘golf parent’ or a parent of a young athlete involved in any sport for that matter. I have seen many anxious parents biting their nails and looking on in horror when things are not going how they envisioned. Conversely, I have seen and experienced the utter joy and fulfillment that achievement in sport can bring to a parent and child.

Firstly, you must understand that this is a long journey. It takes many hours, days and years to become a competent golfer with sacrifices both mentally and financially along the way. There are good times as well as bad times. Golf is a fickle game to play and even more so to watch. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it sometimes!

It is easy to stand on the side lines and ask ‘why did they do that?!”. Believe me, they are often not trying to do that! Golf is a difficult game to play and a tough one to watch.

I believe that the sport should be used as a vehicle to create a lasting bond together. No matter what the outcome, that bond should never be broken or damaged. A game of golf is much less important than family love. The best players I know, all had a deep and unconditional love from their family which was not based on their scores.

Obviously, we all want every player to win every event they enter and to play to all of our expectations. The reality is that it will not always happen. Golf, and sport in general, is a teacher of how to deal with adversity and to create grit and resilience. These lessons can be taken far beyond the golf course and into life.

A parents’ job is to create the opportunities that allow the child to have their best shot at being their best. Their job is also to support and love them unconditionally.

From a practical perspective, I like the parents of our students at IJGA to be as involved as they would like to be in the development of their child. We often team up with and educate the parents who are heavily involved and make sure we are all on the same page and preaching the same message. We are very transparent in what we do and derive our changes and improvements from facts. These facts can then be shared with all in the team to ensure continuity for the child. Some parents do not want to get involved in the golf side, which is fine also.

I sat and though about my top twenty tips for golf parents. I have listed them below and hope they go some way to showing the joy, frustration and love that goes with being a golf parent!

20 Tips for Golf Parents:

  1. Provide unconditional love to your children
  2. Provide unconditional love to your children
  3. Don’t let score-outcome define them
  4. Don’t let them link their self-worth and self-esteem to their score
  5. Develop the whole person not just the golfer
  6. Don’t specialize too early
  7. Enjoy the bond that sport brings to a parent and child
  8. Let them be children!
  9. Understand it’s a simple game to watch and incredibly tough to play!
  10. Provide unconditional love to your children
  11. Understand it’s a journey. The best player at 14 is not usually the best at 17
  12. Look at developing skills and outcomes take care of themselves
  13. Look at developing mastery of skills
  14. Put emphasis on academic development
  15. Put emphasis on social development
  16. Understand that 1 in 1,000,000 makes it. Pros on TV are the 1% of the 1%
  17. Golf teaches great life lessons for business, school and sociability
  18. If you put too much pressure on them when you watch or if it’s too stressful to watch, don’t watch! Drop them off and let them just play
  19. Keep expectations low and simple
  20. Provide unconditional love

Lastly, form a team with their coach. Everyone should be without ego or agenda and on the same page for the good of the player and the person

Jonathan Yarwood – IJGA Director of Golf