Play Young

A how-to guide for parents and juniors

June 2013
Junior Golf

As editor of this section, I hate the idea of droning on about my own game, but OK, I'll make an exception. At age 13 I made the junior team at my family's club in New Jersey--as a sub. One day we had a match at Baltusrol, which to me could have been a character from "Star Wars." Three kids had baseball practice or something that morning, so I got the call. Given my lowly status, my tee time was preceded by four hours of milling around the clubhouse, drinking Cokes and reading plaques about Jack Nicklaus winning two U.S. Opens there. The place was a shrine to American golf. By the time they called me to the tee, I was terrified. But something bizarre happened: I hit eight greens on the front. I'd never broken 90 in my life. After nine, the hot-dog guy in the halfway house was asking every kid what he'd shot. When he pointed his giant finger at me, I confessed: "I had a 38." He grinned big and said, "Boy, you're leading." So I doubled 10 and 11, and shot 49 on the back. I felt sick, but the guys on the team, most of whom didn't know my name, said they'd all choked like that before. It was the first day I knew I loved golf. Loved it, then hated it, then loved it again. That's junior golf.

How To Make Golf Fun

Illustration: Chris Gash


Golf seems pretty dull, right? You can't act up, and you're supposed to focus all the time. BOR-ing. Teacher JASON GUSS uses games to make it more fun. First, ask the pro for two alignment sticks--long, skinny things that look like swords.

To play the first game, stick the two sticks in the ground six feet apart, then walk back 10 steps and try to hit drivers through them, like a field goal. You're learning to aim and hit the ball straight.

For the second game, stick the two sticks in the ground at an angle so they cross at the top and form a triangle. Take a wedge, walk back six feet and try to hit chips through the triangle. Guss says you're learning to hit it low with a short swing--the basic greenside shot.

For the third game, go to the practice green and put the two sticks down four inches apart so they make a track. Try to putt balls down the middle of the track. You're learning to roll a ball where you're aiming. And if you get bored, you can always just have a sword fight, but don't tell your parents we said that.

--Stephen Hennessey

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