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As a parent, getting your child into golf is one of the best things you can do. But, it can be difficult to know where to start.

For professional golfers, you might think it’s easier, but they still face some of the challenges we do.

Take Padraig Harrington for example. The three-time major champion played the PNC Championship with his son, Ciaran, in December and explained that this was the 15-year-old’s first real competitive round.

When Harrington was asked about the best way to get your young one into golf, he gave a typically thoughtful answer, with plenty of food for thought for would-be golf parents.

How to get a child into golf

Here are four key takeaways that can help you get your kid into golf…

1. Take them somewhere you’re relaxed

As an adult, golf can be a stressful game. Busy courses full of serious players can put even seasoned players on edge, so this really isn’t the environment you want to introduce a child to the game.

“The best way, if you want to get your kid into golf, is bring them somewhere you’re not stressed,” Harrington explains. “That’s very important, kids pick up on that.

“It’s very important, but it needs to be a stress-free environment. Don’t bring them to the nice country club, that’s no use, it makes them soft anyway.”

If you’re thinking about taking your child to the course on a busy Saturday morning, perhaps swap that out for a quiet weeknight.

2. Let them do what they want

This point goes hand in hand with the first, but telling your child to strictly follow every rule in golf (and there are a lot of those) is only going to make the game seem like a chore.

As Harrington says: “Let them do what they like when they’re there. If they want to hit one shot, two shots, ten shots, play in the bunker, look in the water, whatever they want to do, let them do it.”

Of course, this isn’t going to be possible when there’s an impatient group behind you, so picking a quiet time on the course is essential.

Padraig Harrington child into golf
Having a stress-free environment is essential for a child starting out in the game. (Credit: Getty Images)

3. Take them home before they get tired

Golf can be an exhausting game, both mentally and physically, but if you want your child to leave the course with a positive memory, it’s best to take them away before it gets too tiring.

It might seem counterintuitive, but as Harrington explains, if you take them home while they’re still having fun, they’ll want to go back.

“Generally bring them home before they get tired,” he says. “The best thing you can do with a kid in golf early on is say, ‘Hey, we have to go home.’

“Don’t wait until they’re tired and they hate it, wait until they’re enjoying themselves, then go home.”

It’s great advice, and something that adults can learn from, too.

• Steve Johnston’s keys to better ball striking

• Do this the next time you play with a scratch golfer

4. Have bonding time after the golf

This might be the most important part of Harrington’s answer, but it’s not about what you do on the course.

Instead, factoring in some bonding time after you’ve put the clubs away is essential.

“The last thing I would say, and this has nothing to do with being a competitive player, it’s about the love of the game. When you’re finished, take ten minutes to spend with your son or daughter, go and have a Pepsi in the bar, or wherever it is, have an ice cream, spend ten or 15 minutes with them.

“If they have that alone time with you, for the rest of their life, every time they play golf, they’ll remember the 15 minutes they had with their father or mother. That’s what will keep bringing them back to golf.

“Remember, these kids will play golf for 90 years. There’s a good chance my kids will be playing when they’re 100. It’s a long career, if every time they play golf, it’s bringing that happy memory of when they were a kid, that alone time, that big boy time where they’re sitting there in the clubhouse and enjoying it.”

Watch the full clip of Harrington discussing how to get a child into golf below…

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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