Golf is one of the oldest games in the world, and whether its serious competition or just for fun, golf can be enjoyed by all the family. We overview golf as a wonderful outdoor game for kids.
With Tiger Woods back on top of the world, not to mention Michael Campbell‘s legendary win at the US Open, and current world stars the top-10 ranked women’s golfer Lydia Ko, and top 150 ranked men’s golfers Danny Lee and Ryan Fox, golf will be a well-known sport for many kids.
What is Golf?
The object of the game is to complete what is known as a hole by playing a ball from the tee down into the hole on the putting green in the fewest possible number of strokes. A ‘round of golf’ consists of playing 9 or 18 holes.
There are also other forms of golf including pitch and putt; golf crosse; miniputt; long drive; hole-in-one challenges; croquet golf; frisbee golf; golf simulators; indoor miniputt; dice golf and speed golf to name a few.
New Zealand has a proud history in golf with the first official golf club called Balmacewen being set up in Dunedin in 1872. This is one of the oldest golf clubs in the Southern Hemisphere.
Where do you play Golf?
Golf is played at any of 385 clubs throughout New Zealand and can be played all year round. Your child may have become interested in golf through taking part in a programme at school or watching it on television.
New Zealand is regarded as one of the cheapest countries in the world to play golf and there are many clubs that can help your child get started. Look for a club that is ‘Junior Plus’ accredited. ‘Junior Plus’ is a programme that is run throughout New Zealand which is designed to help clubs develop quality junior golf programmes.
What age can your child start Golf?
You can start playing golf from any age really, but about 3 or 4 is probably the youngest that a child can successfully swing a club.
There are two excellent junior programmes in New Zealand called Junior Golf Plus and The First Tee. They both cater for children from 7-17 years of age, and provide after-school and holiday coaching programmes.
If you want your child to play golf competitively or professionally then the earlier they start the better it is for their development.
How do you progress over time?
Golf is a game that no matter what level or age you are, you can play at a level that suits you. Assistance for beginners can be obtained at those clubs who have volunteer coaches to help get children started in the Junior programmes, or you can hire a PGA professional coach to teach your child.
Once the child has got the hang of the game they may like to get a handicap which enables them to play on a level field with their friends and family. Getting a handicap is simple – they just need to join a club and submit five scorecards to the club. Ask your local club for more information.
As they progress they may get to represent their school or their club in representative events. They may also become good enough to play interclub or go on to represent their province. Then if they are playing competitively and in national tournaments they may get selected to represent New Zealand.
Golf is a game where anyone can choose how far they want to progress through the time and effort they put into it.
What gear do you need to play Golf?
Golf can be quite expensive to get started so try hiring some children’s equipment from your golf club or borrowing it from a friend.
Below is a list of equipment that they will need to get started:
Clubs You can choose to get either a half or full set. It is a good idea to get measured for these by a PGA professional golfer who has been trained in the art of club fitting. This is part of the service they provide. You could also choose the option of buying second hand clubs or even hiring a set to start with to see if golf is something you will enjoy. Some golf clubs will have children’s golf clubs available so that the children can try before the decision to buy has to be made. Some clubs even hire these out and will accept trade-ins for the next size as a child grows.
Bag To store your clubs in along with your snacks and drinks for the round along with your balls, tees and wet weather gear. You can choose a bag which may be a carry bag (which you carry) or a golf bag (which you can either carry or put on a trundler or a golf cart).
Trundler A wheeled carrier for your bag.
Tees These are a little device on which you place your ball at the start of each hole. These are sometimes colour coded for different heights and for use with different clubs.
Balls These must be a specific size and weight. There are many different brands that you are able to purchase from many different suppliers.
Gloves Usually worn on one hand and this helps with gripping and controlling the club while swinging.
Golf shoes These are specifically designed and can look like walking shoes or athletic shoes, the major difference is the spikes or studs on the bottom to give you stability on the ground when you swing. They are optional, you can wear trainers as a beginner.
Professional coaching There are teaching golf professionals who are members of the Professional Golfers Association of New Zealand. They are trained in golf coaching and can assist you with developing your skills and with the technical aspect of your swing.
All the equipment listed above can be found at pro shops at your local golf club, reputable sports stores and golf specific sports stores around the country.
How much does Golf cost?
The list of equipment you need to start playing golf is quite extensive so try hiring some equipment from a golf club or borrowing it from a friend. You don’t want to buy a lot of expensive new equipment if your child quickly loses interest in the game!
Below is an estimate for the cost for a junior (aged up to 18) to start playing golf (bear in mind many of these items will last for several years – so may be a ‘one off’ cost):
|Membership subs for a year
|Tees (packof 10)
|Casual green fees
|$15-35+ per round
Professional Coaching $50-80 per ½ hour session
Golf Shoes $80-160
Note Subscription costs differ a lot from club to club, and the cost of equipment like golf clubs can vary depending on the quality of the clubs you buy.
The prices shown above are indicative of entry-level quality clubs and equipment. Like any sport – you can spend as much (or as little) as you want to in the quest to be the best.
We highly recommend looking at second-hand trading sites like Trade Me for start up golf sets, if your child just wants to try the sport out for a year.
How much time does Golf take to learn?
You will need to tailor the time spent practising and playing to the age of the child. They may start off with 30 minute coaching sessions, and gradually build up to a full round of golf when they reach their teens. A round of 18 holes of golf usually takes four hours whereas a round of 9 holes will take two hours.
Practice can also take as long as you want, and will be governed by the concentration span of the child. Practice time is usually divided between hitting balls on the practice fairway, short game practice and playing holes.
Given that a full 18 holes of golf takes about four hours, it is a great way to spend quality time with your family. It allows for plenty of time for chatting and catching up with your kids!
Useful New Zealand Golf Websites
The official website of New Zealand Golf. It’s got all the latest news and information plus links to all the golf clubs in New Zealand so you can find one near you. It also has contact information for all the ‘Junior Plus’ accredited clubs.
Find out all about the junior golf programmes run at schools and different golf clubs. Some common questions get asked and examples of New Zealand Golf Clubs who coach children, and run kid’s competitions.