Andy McCormick, Director of Qatar Golf Academy and its community development initiative, United Through Golf, shares with us why golf is a great sport to pick up at a young age.
It is true that playing golf requires a certain level of personal dedication, and it certainly can be played and enjoyed alone. That being said, it is actually one of the most sociable sports there is. In fact, anyone can pick up golf, regardless of their age, including young children. There are a wide range of lessons and interactive programs for people of all ages and abilities by the Qatar Golf Academy at Doha Golf Club.
More than 200 children have joined the Junior Development Programme this season, and are experiencing the exciting challenges of learning to play golf. And as the weather cools down, more children will be joining the academy to enjoy the great outdoors and the beautiful winter weather in Doha.
Golf in the community
United Through Golf is the academy’s community outreach programme, which participates at both major and smaller events in Qatar to promote the physical and social benefits of the sport to people of all ages, including life skills and values as well as positive lifestyle choices. United Through Golf is the academy’s way of getting out into the community and inspiring families to choose recreational sport as a healthy and active pastime. Through the programme, families are encouraged to play sport together in fun and creative ways such as mini golf and short golf.
A friendly place to learn golf
The academy boasts a team of highly qualified PGA professionals to teach the techniques of world-class coaches Pete Cowen and Mike Walker, who coach the likes of Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood. These classes are offered to children as young as five years old and include fun, golf based activities, with an emphasis on healthy social interaction.
The beauty of golf is that it’s one of the few sports that children can play with their parents. It’s not unusual to see three generations learning golf at the same time at the academy. You could see a father teaching his child how to swing and often you find children teaching their parents how to putt. It’s truly an interactive game.
It’s all about fun, fun, fun
Keeping classes interesting is important because once children have lost interest in what they’re doing it obstructs their learning process. There are many techniques involved in the game, but we choose to avoid complicated instructions and keep it simple and interesting. The academy actively encourages the parents to get involved too – it’s not always about the proper grip or the perfect swing; the best thing parents could do is show their children what a great time they’re having. The more fun the children have, the more they will want to play.
Another great way to get kids into the swing of things is to pay a visit to a golf event such as the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club. The world’s leading professionals are a great inspiration to young fans and the off-course entertainment provides a great day out. With free entry for children under 15-years-old and a dedicated family zone where kids can try a variety of activities including mini golf, it’s a perfect way to introduce them to the spirit of the game.
Skills for life
Golf is a sport that requires individual skills, yet it is played in a very social platform – children learn how to respect each other and the environment. It is also about acceptance, which I personally think is significant. Even if they work hard to win, we teach the children that their efforts could bear fruit or sometimes it might not turn out the way they had hoped; the important thing is that they try their best and enjoy themselves. Consequently, the sport enhances the childrens’ emotional development through virtues of patience and commitment; it builds their character for the long run, teaches self-control and good judgment, and the challenge is always rewarding.
From a physical standpoint, playing golf provides healthy, enjoyable aerobic exercise. Golf can also help children develop co-ordination, motor skills and balance. By learning golf, children will also appreciate the benefits of good nutrition and regular exercise.
The game encourages an outdoor, active lifestyle for both children and parents. It is a safe, low impact form of exercise that is challenging yet can be personally rewarding in many different ways, perfect for all ages. Get your kids into it.
Classes for children
Junior golf classes are available for children as young as five years and are conducted in groups or individually. For more information, visit qatargolfacademy.com or call (44960755). For Commercial Bank Qatar Masters information and tickets, visit qatar-masters.com.