Top Resorts, Tips and Tools to Introduce Golf to Young Athletes
Child golfing

If your kids are showing signs of taking the PGA circuit by storm, follow these tips on introducing them to the world of golf. We recommend ways to to find the best Junior Camps, how to plan family golfing vacation ideas and more.

The kid golfing craze started around the same time Tiger Woods hit the mainstream and made the sport cool for younger generations.  Fortunately, the travel industry took notice and many resorts now cater to youth, some even with their own pint-sized golf courses. 

 

Get Junior Tigers Golfing Right

If you’re not sure where to begin your kid’s golf education, try the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation website.  This interactive site has great information and tips especially for junior golfers and their parents, introducing the rules of the game, etiquette, education, program direction, and the golfing community. 

Next, get your kids inspired by taking them to a junior golf tournament. They’ll appreciate seeing other kids ages 12 to 18 playing the game competitively with The American Junior Golf Association (877/373-2542).

The organization’s AJGA Tour Friends Program also offers golfing scholarship and support with the help of PGA golfers. Once they’ve gotten a taste for competition, fun, and sun, head out on a golfing vacation with kids in mind.

 

Junior Golf at Resorts Year Round

Gone are the days when Mom and Dad played 18-holes of golf while their children joined the hotel’s Kids’ Clubs for arts n’ crafts and video games.  Now kids of all ages are looking to get in on the action and dream of making it big on the PGA circuit one day.  And what better way to introduce them to the love of the sport with a vacation designed with golfing families in mind? Here are some top picks in the US and abroad.

Club Med Golf Academy
Club Med Sandpiper Bay
4500 SE Pine Valley Street
Port St Lucie, Florida 34952
772/398-5100
This popular all-inclusive family resort is just a 75-minute drive from the West Palm Beach Airport and 2 hours from Fort Lauderdale. Not only does it have a world-class golf academy under the direction of of Brad Brewer (founder of the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy) and Don Law, students also have access to Club Med’s course and 15 more nearby. Plenty here for the non-golfers in the family. Read more at our Club Med Sandpiper Bay review.

Hammock Beach (a Salamander Golf and Spa Resort)
200 Ocean Crest Drive
Palm Coast, Florida 32137
866/841-0287
Working alongside U.S. Kids Golf, Hammock Beach Resort encourages children’s love of golf by providing them with as much tee time as possible on some of the most beautiful and highest rated courses available in Florida. Children are granted access to the tee everyday, even receiving a discounted playing price after 3pm. They also offer specially designed rental clubs, perfect in size for kids. If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, check out the family packages, which offer unlimited Putt-Putt per person, each day.

Innisbrook
36750 U.S. Highway 19 North
Palm Harbor, Florida 34684
888/794-8627
Just 25 minutes from Tampa International Airport, children learn everything there is to know about golf on 900 acres of gorgeous terrain at another Salamander Golf and Spa Resort. Starting at the very basics, Innisbrook Resort has complimentary 101 Lessons every Saturday with the resorts top instructors. Here, kids will learn everything they need to know to get their game going, from posture, grip, swing, and golf etiquette. Reservations are not needed and rental clubs are provided at no charge.

Phoenix Academy
Pointe Hilton
11111 North 7th Street,
Phoenix, Arizona 85020
800/947-9784
Pointe Hilton Golf Academy welcomes over 450 kids every year. Golf enthusiasts as young as 6-years enjoy 60 minutes of golf instruction with PGA golfers. Kids 6- to 17-years are divided by age and ability in intimate class sizes of no more than eight students. This flagship school has introduced a brand new bunker to the practice area, along with its own pitching green and a separate chipping and putting green.

Reunion Resort
7593 Gathering Drive
Kissimmee, Florida 34747
866/880-8563
With courses designed by golf all-stars such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson, children will learn how to play like a pro while staying at this Salamander Hotel, the Reunion Resort. Here, you can find a Junior Golf Program, specially designed to help the little ones improve their game as well as individual lessons available by appointment. As an extra treat for children ages 6-17, check out Junior Hour with the ANNIKA Academy, taught by world-renowned golfer Annika Sorensam.

Saddlebrook Resort
5700 Saddlebrook Way
Wesley Chapel, Florida 33543
813/973-1111
Kids ages 12 to 18 can head to Florida for Saddlebrook’s week-long Junior Camps. Students learn the fundamentals, pro practice, scoring zones, and course strategy. The staff works with kids’ current skills and abilities with five days of golf instruction, video analysis, and complimentary Fitness Center access. Students in the 2nd through 12th grades looking to take their golfing career to the next level can join the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy. This year-round, accredited college preparatory education school is specially tailored to each student with 5 hours of classroom study and 4 ½ hours of golf and fitness every day. The program offers low student to instructor ratios and training on 18-hole championship golf courses.

Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort
5781 Mountain Road
Stowe, Vermont 05672
800-253-4849
The family-favorite Stowe Mountain Resort brings golf to kids ages 7 to 17 with over 20 hours of supervised instruction. The staff puts an emphasis on introducing the sport to kids, proper technique, and just having fun. Program include instruction, an introduction to golf book, a program gift, a certificate of accomplishment, and invitation to the program ending awards and pizza party.

 

Family Favorite International Golf Resorts for All Ages

Gleneagles Resort
Auchterarder
Perthshire, Scotland PH3 1NF U.K.
44/1764-662231; 866/881-9525
Once the kids have gotten in a few rounds and parents brushed up on their game, head to where it all started – Scotland. Gleneagles’ 830-acre estate located in the countryside of Auchterarder. Spring and summer Junior Camp offer instruction to children ages 6 to 16-years of age. Kids play on the Wee course or Pitch and Putt, depending on skill level. The resort draws internationally renowned golfers including Jack Nicklaus with its world-class golfing, wellness spa, equestrian programs, skeet shooting, and perhaps most exciting to teens – Land Rover driving school.

Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort
Lowlands, Tobago, W.I.
868/660-8500 or 866/353-6222 (toll free from US)
This Atlantic Oceanfront resort on the lush island of Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago, provides juniors aged 12-17 with free golfing (as long as they’re accompanied by an adult), driving range and chipping greens, making it a good destination for golf and beach-loving parents and grandparents who want to introduce their children to the sport without a big investment. A local golf pro is available to offer moderately-priced lessons to all skill levels. The Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, comprising three pools, a pretty beach, 156 rooms plus 22 one- or two-bedroom suites, is adjacent to the Tobago Plantations Golf Course and within Tobago Plantations Estate, a gated community of luxury villas, condos and bungalows. The course meets Championship standards and is a certified member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System, an environmental program offered by Audubon International.  

 

Junior Golf Programs that Travel Around

Sometimes an all-golf-everyday vacation is more than your family is ready for.  Consider some resorts where a golf intensive is just part of the many activities and offerings.

Marriott Kids Golf-4-Free
888/236-2427
If families need an incentive to hit the greens, they’ll find it with free golfing. The Kids Golf-4-Free program at select Marriot golf properties allows kids 15-years-old and under to play for free after 3pm., when accompanied by a full paying adult. The program also provides junior golfers with a free set of Accu-Length rentals clubs for use during their round and a free golf lesson when accompanied by an adult who is also taking a fully paid golf lesson from a Marriott instructor. Current Marriott golf locations range from Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia,  England,  St. Kitts, and more.

Nike Golf Schools and Jr. Camps
415/479-6060
Nike brings golfing to kids with specially designed nationwide programs for all skill levels. Their morning sessions are spent in small groups learning the ins and outs of chipping bunker play and the full swing. In the afternoons, kids enjoy supervised course play to put what they’ve learned in action. Junior Resident camps accepts kids ages 10 to 18 with all skill levels and Junior Day Camps offers instruction to ages 7 to 16 years, also with varied skill level. For more experienced players looking for a challenge, the Advanced Player Resident Schools offers high school and/or tournament level juniors with handicaps of 15 or less to 12 to 18-years. But it’s not just all about the kids, parents can get in on the fun and improve their swing as a family with Nike’s Parent Child Schools for all ages and all abilities.

Tips to Grownups for Making Golf Fun for Kids

Once your child has caught the golf bug, encourage their newfound love of the sport with family activities including watching PGA tournaments, visiting local golf clubs and pros, and playing together. Opt for non-peak times at new courses so kids can get accustomed to the course and feel comfortable playing without the pressure of more experienced golfers.

Kids can get frustrated when activities don’t come easily to them, so the Pros suggest introducing them to the sport slowly and offering encouragement along the way.

Also remember that while kids can make do with adult clubs by choking up on the grip, it will make the game more difficult. Youth golf clubs are made for kids as young as 2-years-old with themes including Snoopy and fun colors. Let them know the sport is meant to be as fun as it is challenging and lead by example. And that means no throwing your own clubs when you miss that easy hole-in-one shot.

 

 

Photos courtesy willholmes, Fort Rucker, and PermaCultured via Flickr Creative Commons License.

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