At one of the most popular golf courses around Croydon, the traditional cry of “Fore!” has been replaced of late by “Four!”, as a squad of young golfers have been taking the chance to take up the game.
Weekend classes at Farleigh Golf Club are attracting growing numbers, thanks to the recent initiative to include junior membership for free with all seven-day adult memberships at the club, which is sited on downland near Selsdon.
Children aged as young as four have been attending the sessions, under the supervision of PGA professional, Shain Johnson, with the emphasis on athleticism and movement before the more technical aspects of golf are addressed.
Johnson, a former competitor on the Sunshine Tour in his native Zimbabwe, studied sports science at university and is now a certified golf coach who holds advanced level qualifications. “Junior coaching has changed a lot over the past 10 years or so,” Johnson said.
“It’s gone from just hitting golf balls on the range to performing other exercises and for the kids to grow as an athlete first while learning basic sport skills, although we’re still getting them to swing the club.
“As a coach working with younger kids, you are looking to encourage that explosive power and to enhance speed. Of course, with that approach, you can’t be too worried about where the ball is going – you are just looking to create speed. But you get on to the coordination, sequencing of the swing and the technique a little more as you progress.
“I have a whole programme where I can start teaching kids every week up to the age of 17, so it’s quite in-depth. Body development, movement and using those powerful muscles is so vital.”
He said: “You do get those naturally talented individuals, who just instantly understand it.
“I’m working with one young girl who just makes the golf swing look effortless.
“But you also need to learn those skills and motor functions, too. It’s like swimming – if they haven’t learnt early, they struggle more when they are older. Even as an adult, try throwing a ball with your other hand and see how bad you are at it. It’s not that we can’t do it, it’s just because we have never learnt how to do it properly.”
Farleigh Golf Club’s 27 holes have everything required to learn those skills, plus a driving range, putting green and short game area to work on all aspects of the game.
For more information on the junior golf at Farleigh, visit www.farleighfox.co.uk
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