Every once in a while in my line of work, I come across programs that warm their way right into my heart. One of these is Junior Golf which is currently running under the Safaricom Golf Tour that commenced in late January. Before this, the next best example is Ghetto Classics which was running under Safaricom Jazz.
Both of these programs and others have given me the opportunity to work with kids and to learn how disciplined arts and sports positively impact their lives – present and future.
Junior Golf is one among the best things that parents and guardians can do to set their children up for success not only in sports, but also in other areas of life. The focus and discipline associated with golf shapes them up for healthy mental and emotional mindsets. These play a huge role in navigating not only their childhoods, but also adulthood as they grow up.
Being a low impact sport, golf affords youngsters great physical benefits like strengthening the spine and core muscles, and yet it does not strain their growing bodies. It is a fun family sport where everyone can take part, as opposed to more physically exerting sports like football which could set parents aside. Furthermore, golf does not stress kids with specific physique requirements and this I feel is a confidence boost to those who need it. Golf is also a great launching pad for interest in other sports.
I’ve been trailing the Safaricom Golf Tour from Nanyuki, Limuru, Muthaiga, and this past weekend, Nyanza Golf Club. This is where I had the pleasure of speaking to Nelly Gatonye, a life coach who mentors children and teenagers. Life coaching is a thoughtful addition to the Safaricom Golf Tour since Nelly is able to meet kids on ground, and in an already fun environment. Nelly will be working with junior golfers throughout the tour and she cannot thank Safaricom enough for the platform to meet and mentor new kids every few weeks.
Nelly has been able to study the game and from her experience as a coach and mentor, she was able to share how golf intertwines with life and how junior golfers are learning life skills on the course. Here are some of the benefits that kids get directly from playing golf.
Golf is a game of mental focus and strategy. For a player to take the best shots, they need to be able to narrow their thoughts into that one moment and keep distractions like unpleasant weather away. For kids, learning this kind of sharp purposeful focus early gives them an edge even in their school and home lives.
Golf is a time specific game. Tee off is usually at strictly specific times and sometimes early in the morning. Through golf, kids learn healthy sleep habits and time keeping from an early age. Time management is particularly crucial both for personal and professional lives.
As much as any sport can help kids bond, golf stands out because by its very nature, it can be played at an easy pace with time for conversations and bonding. Solid friendships are crucial for the social and emotional growth of children.
A game of golf can go wrong and players often have to deal with disappointment in their performance. Adults generally have capacity to deal with this and look forward to the next game, but kids can be hit a little harder and have a harder time processing.
Golf gently shapes kids emotionally and equips them with the resilience and patience needed to take on whatever life throws at them even outside of the golf course.
Any outdoor sport is a great break from the drudgery of everyday life. For kids, it’s a good break from school, homework, and TV since being out in nature is a proven measure to decrease stress. This is great for mental health.
As much as these points capture the all-round benefits pretty well, there is a lot more nuance in the game. The clear bottom line is that junior golfers are onto something. It is great to see that more are turning up for the golf outreaches in the areas where the Safaricom Golf Tours is, and the golf clinics are getting more populated.