The summer is upon us which means, for a lot of kids, a lot of idle time. Summer camps have been the fall back for many parents over the early into teenage years and definitely have a place in the American psyche. Most US towns will have options for day golf camps near you and many colleges and other golf learning facilities have summer golf camps with a boarding option.
There are many advantages to having your child in a good summer camp including social skills development, leadership and decision making skills.
Depending on the nature of the camp there are many new skills to be learned by young, inquiring minds which may trigger and inspire a myriad of future interests or pursuits.
For young golfers, summer golf camp is a great idea!
Where can I find a Summer Golf Camp?
As junior golf becomes more and more popular one can almost certainly find a good golf camp for very young beginners through elite juniors at golf clubs across the country and in most cases near to you.
Finding one can be as easy as reaching out to a neighborhood golf club and asking. Golf camps are generally not restricted to members-only, although often there will be member pricing and non-member pricing. There are often opportunities to play at some of the best golf courses in the country with some of the top junior instructors, that one would not normally have access to.
US Kids Golf has 2 dedicated academies, one in Pinehurst NC and one in Sarasota FL, which offer camps. US Kids also has 4 Affiliated Locations (Danville PA, Atlanta GA, Trinity FL, and San Antonio TX), which also offer a series of summer camps. In addition, US Kids host Parent/Child Camps at their campus at the Longleaf Golf club in Pinehurst, NC.
The PGA also 180 junior golf camps throughout the country. You can search here for a PGA summer golf camp at a location near you. These are often available at premier golf courses and lead by PGA certified instructors.
The PGA also has a range of Advanced Camps for the more serious junior golfer, often taught by some of the most elite junior golf instructors in the country. They focus on "next level" categories of the summer golf camp experience like mental specialty areas, conditioning and course management aimed at the highly competitive junior golfer.
The First Tee also offers golf camps at over 1,500 locations around the country and has a focus on youth empowerment by developing character and learning life values. Select your location on The First Tee Summer Camp website page to look for camps and programs near you.
In addition to the options above, junior golf camps are often easily findable by a general Google search or going to junior golf tour websites. There are many excellent junior programs at good local clubs. For example, in our area, Georgia Golf Performance academy offers camps for all levels of junior golfers including for different age groups, players programs, elite programs and a girls only program.
Examples of other well known and reputable nationwide junior golf camps include:
In addition to the designated College Golf Experience Camps, a list of some additional college golf camps is available at the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) website.
What to Look For in a Summer Golf Camp
The key things parents look for in a summer golf camp are kind, compassionate leaders who understand the game and can help with skill development.
Even though golf is very much an individual sport a good summer camp will promote team building exercises and promote awareness of the individual as part of a greater community with a focus on practicing etiquette and sportsmanship.
Junior golfers are, by nature, often quieter and more cerebral than their peers. A summer golf camp is an ideal opportunity to promote friendship and bonding while pursuing a common interest in and love for the game.
Depending on the age of your child, as well as skill level, you will want different things in a summer golf camp.
Very young kids will get more out of a camp that has a level of expertise in teaching and interacting with developing golfers. The aim of a summer golf camp for very young kids, ages 3 to 5, is essentially to have fun and learn safety in a golf setting.
And if you are wondering, whether golf camp is really a good idea for very young kids? The answer is yes, but the learning setting is very important and we set out the essentials of teaching young children in our article: Can My 3 Year Old Play Golf?
For beginner players age 6 to 10 a summer golf camp is an ideal place to get exposed to the game and develop skills. Having fun should, of course, still be the primary focus of camps in this age group too as the biggest reason kids stop playing golf is that they stop having fun. Safety needs to be stressed by the camp leaders at every level, especially with children at this age who have a lot of energy and perhaps less impulse control.
For elite junior golfers a camp should primarily work on challenging the players, advanced skill instruction, building teamwork, and playing time on the golf course. Rules and etiquette lessons are helpful additions to the camp agenda.
Camp instructors are important and parents should certainly feel confident and comfortable leaving their children with them. A certified PGA professional should ideally be part of the camp leadership, particularly in a setting dedicated to more elite junior golfers. The leadership in general should be qualified to teach golf, be knowledgeable about the rules and most importantly be passionate and enthusiastic about the campers in their care and dedicated to providing a growing, inclusive and co-operative camping experience.
What Do You Want Out of the Summer Golf Camp?
You want to see some sort of progression in skill level and ability. You hope to see a light in their eyes as they head out to the course and range and talk about their experiences.
In addition to the life skills you inevitably learn in a camp environment, a golf camp should improve a player’s game on some level and deepen their enthusiasm for the game. On the contrary, if it doesn’t, that is a gift in itself clarifying to both child and parent that maybe golf is not for that particular child. Which is fine too.
Chances are you will be able to find a summer golf camp in your community for your child regardless for age and ability. But make sure you fit your player into an environment that is personally nurturing for them.
Often a highly capable tournament experience golfer will be allowed to “play up” in a higher age group where he or she is more competitive, however, if you do consider this route consider exactly what you are looking for in a summer camp. Being hyper-focused on competition and challenging your player in a summer golf camp setting may not be exactly what your young player might need for a summer camp experience.
Summer golf camp may well be more about social interaction, building friendships, having fun in skills challenges and building confidence. It all very much depends on the amount of options available in your area and your player’s temperament. As a parent aim for the most fun possible.
Golf, as in life, has its fair share of hard lessons. Summer camps don’t have to be that way.