Doug Lawrie is one of Canada’s top junior golf instructors, and he knows the moment when young golfers – and their parents – realize it might be time to take golf a little more seriously.
It’s not always an easy path to navigate, but Lawrie says it can be one of the most rewarding.
Lawrie is the Director of Instruction at Focus Golf Group, based out of Trafalgar Golf Club (just outside Toronto), and is one of the most celebrated instructors of youngsters in the country. One of his students, Vanessa Borovilos, even won the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National.
So what happens when a youngster realizes they want to get better at golf, and what happens next?
“It’s all about giving them opportunities to succeed,” says Lawrie. “You have to guide the child and get them over the humps. It’s really, really hard because you have tears, you have sorrow, and they get down on themselves. It’s also about working with the parents to help them provide a pathway for their child to be successful.
“It doesn’t have to be a competitive pathway but a lot of times when you have a coach to help the child keep going, the pathway unfolds itself.”
THREE SILOS OF INTEREST
Lawrie says there are three different ways to identify if a youngster wants to keep getting better at golf: it can either come from an instructor, a parent, or the child.
Most of the time, Lawrie says, a child will be introduced to golf by a parent because that parent loves golf. Lots of children will have the ability to put club-on-ball, Lawrie says, because they’re also playing other sports at a young age.
Children might also fall into golf thanks to an instructor identifying them as someone who might have another gear, Lawrie says. A child may be at a golf camp and an instructor will talk to the parents about doing something to help that child grow and love the game even more.
But it’s best if a child decides he or she wants to improve at golf on their own. This shows initiative and a passion for the game, Lawrie says, that’s the coolest part about young golfers.
SELECTING THE RIGHT CLUBS
A good identifier, Lawrie says, is if a child is swinging faster than 70 mph with an iron.
Every child is different and grows up in unique ways, but the numbers don’t lie. Children will continue to build speed with clubs built for juniors – and U.S. Kids has a variety of different options for all children.
While it’s important to start by loving the game and recognizing the work that goes into becoming a great golfer, it’s most important to realize the game is supposed to be fun, especially for children.
Lawrie’s coaching pathway involves lots of gameification and fun competitions. He knows not everyone will make the PGA or LPGA Tour, but if a child identifies that’s what he or she wants to do, Lawrie will go all-in with him or her.
Many of Lawrie’s young female students are inspired by Golf Town athlete Brooke Henderson, but Lawrie knows Brooke wasn’t just handed a golf club and became amazing – she put in a lot of hard work to get to where she is now as Canada’s winningest golfer.
Some of his students, including Vanessa Borovilos (who won the National Finals of the Drive, Chip & Putt at Augusta National), are doing their own inspiring these days, Lawrie says.
He also coaches 4-year-old Penny Roach, who is on Instagram as @WatchPennyGolf. She came into a winter academy with Lawrie last year to see Borovilos practice with another young female golfer, Alexa Ouellet, who both wore toques inside. Penny, Lawrie says, showed up not long after wearing a toque of her own.
“The trickle-down effect of who these kids watch is important. You put them in the environment where the younger kids want to play with the older kids means its neat to watch when you see the success and the mimicking,” Lawrie says. “It creates an opportunity, too. You’re on to something.”
So if you think your child might be ready to take the next step, find a coach, get them a set of U.S. Kids Golf clubs, encourage them to find other kids who love the game, and most of all let them have fun!