Parenting young athletes, especially golfers, involves a delicate balance of support and guidance. Unlike other sports, golf tournaments rarely remind parents to keep their cool. Growing up playing hockey, I often saw rinks filled with signs like “It’s just a game” or “Let them play.” Although such reminders aren’t posted at golf tournaments, it’s crucial for parents, often acting as their child’s caddy, to foster a positive and effective environment for their budding golfer.

One common mistake is over-coaching. Many parents fall into the trap of giving too much technical advice during the game. If your child is already receiving professional lessons, they have specific techniques and mindsets they’re working on. Bombarding them with additional instructions can overwhelm them and disrupt their focus. Think about Tiger Woods in 2005: if his caddy had overloaded him with advice before his crucial putt, he likely wouldn’t have made it. The key is to keep things simple and focused, aligning with the practices of respected coaches.

Negative criticism is another pitfall. Scolding a child for a poor shot, like telling them they left the club face open, only adds pressure. Instead, parents should aim to alleviate stress by focusing on the next shot. Maintaining a neutral mindset, as described in Trevor Moawad’s book “It Takes What It Takes,” can be very effective. This approach involves staying present and objective, avoiding dwelling on past mistakes or unrealistically positive thinking. For example, after a challenging putt, a parent might say, “We have a long putt ahead on fast greens. What’s your read?” This keeps the child focused and prepared. Although it’s easier said than done, we can at least try.

During a tee shot, the thoughts you convey to your child should center on the start line and visualizing the ball flight. Professional caddies provide factual, non-opinionated information, allowing the player to make the best decision. This includes details like yardages, wind, and possible landing spots. Bob Rotella, a renowned sports psychologist, praises the idea of a blank mind. As hard as it may seem, a clear mind allows golfers to focus on where they want the ball to go and hit the shot.

In summary, the role of a parent in their child’s golf journey is to offer support, maintain simplicity in guidance, and encourage a neutral, forward-thinking mindset. This creates a positive environment that nurtures the child’s development and love for the game. In my lessons, I aim to educate parents of juniors if they need it or if they ask. It truly doesn’t matter what the lesson contents are if they are contradicted or overshadowed by external pressure. If you kill their love for the game, they are less likely to put their best foot forward and make an effort to improve.


-Coach Dan