For children who find ball based team activities such as hockey or football a little too frenetic, golf might be just the sport for them. Coaching can take place side by side, with no need to an adult to yell instructions across the pitch, while the individual remains fully focussed on their own actions, without worrying about why little Johnny didn't pass the ball, or if they have let the whole team down by missing an open goal.
The downside to a child playing a sport like golf is the limited opportunity to practice. While it’s easy enough to get a group of mates together to kick a ball about on a patch of grass, finding the space and equipment needed to hone golf skills can be a challenge.
As experts in outdoor play, we've come up with this list of golf-related games and activities you can play at home.
For all of these games, replace regular golf balls with foam or plastic air flow training golf balls. These will not travel as far as the normal golf balls and are unlikely to cause damage to person or property. However, it is vital that you teach your child to never aim a ball directly at another person or animal, whether it is a heavy golf ball or a soft training ball.
#1 Crazy Golf Create your own crazy golf course using whatever materials you have to hand. You can cut holes into cardboard boxes and decorate them as houses, use wide tubes as tunnels, and even use foam pool noodles as barriers.
#2 Golf Skittles Practice precision hitting bu playing golf skittles. The game is played just like regular skittles but instead of bowling a ball underarm, hit a ball with a golf club instead. You can use real skittles, or decorate drinking bottles, empty tin cans, or toilet rolls instead.
#4 Non Rolling Golf If you have limited space and are worried about the ball getting out of control, replace the golf ball with a plastic hockey puck instead. Use chalk to mark out a crazy golf course and end goal. This is works particularly well with young children, who will still get the benefit of practicing hand to eye coordination, and calculating how hard, and at what angle to hit the object, without the frustration of having to keep chasing errant balls.
#5 Mathematical Golf Combine golf skills with some maths practice, by creating a score-based game. Line up cardboard boxes with holes cut to the front. Each hole is worth however, many points you choose. You may want to work with small numbers for young children, and larger numbers for older. Each child gets the same number of balls to attempt to putt, and must calculate their own score at the end. This is especially good for practicing multiples, for example if there are three balls in the ‘5 points’ box, show how that related to the five times table.
For more outdoor play ideas, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.