What are the complexities of junior golf? Part three.

Matthew Cooke
  • Author: Matthew Cooke
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Stuart Morgan
  • Author 2: Stuart Morgan
  • GLT Advisor, & partner
The complexities of junior golf. Part three.

What Is Your Role As A Parent In Golf? Because you often get a bad rep!

One for the parents:

Parents should be involved in the whole process of golf lessons and practice. We often hear that parents get in the way of a lot of junior golfers development and have too much influence in the direction they are traveling. This is never going to change. Parents spend the most time with junior golfers, so it makes sense that they can heavily influence the golfer's direction. It is our job as coaches to educate the parents and coach them just as much as the golfer.

On my journey, I have seen some terrible sports parents; however, I have also been exposed to some fantastic ones. Where I see the conflict happen is when the parent starts trying to coach. More often than not, this causes conflict between the player and parents, which are never good for a relationship. This type of relationship can put the coaches astray, too. For example, when coaches are working towards something, that something can be contradicted when something new has been said by the parents.

If coaches really want to help their junior golfers, strike up a great relationship with their parents. Quite frankly, they know their child better than you do. Walking the course at a tournament and chatting is a great way to go about this. Parents have an amazing insight if you are willing to open up to it.

For parents, when a coach mentions something to you about your child, it is from the perspective of the sport. They are not trying to give you parental advice. Just like coaches should listen to you, you should listen to the coach.

The success I have experienced boils down to knowing your role and boundaries. Parents be parents, don’t advise your children about the sport. If you want to talk, pick up the phone to the coach, instead. Be there for the emotional support with no conversations about the results.

Coaches be coaches, stick to what you know. Keep it about the game and how you can help students with the game. If it’s about something at school, speak to the parents and pass the baton, don’t try to be a hero.

Players be players. Most of the time, I think players do this very well; however, sometimes players need to delegate things to the right person. For help, generally speaking, speak with your parents about anything other than golf, and speak to your coach about nothing but golf.

Coaches, parents, and players, this is very simple, but use it as a guide:

1. Know your rolls
2. Have open communication within your relationships
3. Player and the best for the player is always at the center
4. Get rid of the ego

Think participation rather than placing emphasis on trophies. Then, when taking it more seriously, think continuous development.

One for the coaches & parents:

Dr. Jean Cote clarifies in his pioneering research that children under 13 years of age should be in their sampling years, ages 13 to 15 should be their specializing years, and 16+ should be their the investment years.

To understand this better without reading the actual research, use this;

● Under 13 years old = Sampling (the golfer should play multiple sports, golf is one)

● 13-15 years old = Narrowing (narrow down the sports, and golf becomes the primary. Play 1 or 2 others for fitness/social/fun)

● 16+ years old = specializing (make golf the primary sport)

This is only if the player wants to play golf at a higher level. If they don’t know, or just think about playing for fun, that’s okay, too.

In most recent months, the theory on participation trophies has been heavily criticized and placed in a rather negative light. Awarding trophies for losing can be detrimental for internal drive and motivational purposes, but praising the effort and hard work (if it was given and put in) when losses occur is the start of building a growth mindset.

The complexities of junior golf. Part three.

I see too much obsessing about winning trophies at a young age, just let them play, and keep them focused on developing. At a later time look at what it takes to play at a higher level and maybe what others people are doing too.


If you don’t know where a student has come from, it's impossible to guide them on where to go. Know your students.

One for the coaches,

I was once told; “don’t let your students behind the curtain” meaning my students should never get too close, and friendly with me. I found this rather peculiar as knowing your students can be the difference between advising them on the right thing, or the wrong thing, pointing them down the right path, rather than the wrong one, students coming back to see you again, or never coming back, students starting a meaningful and trusting relationship with you, or feeling like they can’t open up to you.

Inevitably students will experience a struggle in their game initially, especially if the practice is delivered effectively. This means that their short-term performance won’t, and shouldn’t be what brings them back a week later. It simply isn’t enough time to reap big rewards. What will and should be the driving force behind a growing and continuous student-coach relationship, bringing them back a week later, is the speed of trust that can be established by getting to know them, and letting them behind the curtain.


Remember, we all have a story.