The wee ones love the idea of mini golf. And I’m ok with it. It’s a fun couple of hours (or longer with small children who have bad aim) outside having fun together and not obnoxiously expensive. The key, however, is to teach kids to play mini golf. The first time we went, the wee ones didn’t know what they were doing, and it was a disaster – for me.
Over the past four plus years, I’ve figured out how to make mini golf a far more pleasant experience for everyone, not the least of which is: don’t take your three year old who can’t stop moving to play mini golf. Seriously, though, I have figured out a few tips that make the golfing more fun and productive for everyone.
Setting a few key boundaries before you start playing is critical.
- You may only hit the ball when Mommy says it is your turn.
- Mommy decides who hits in what order.
- If it is not your turn, you may not be on the green part, nor may you climb on surrounding vegetation. Stand on the sidewalk.
- When you have finished your turn, hand Mommy your club. She will carry it for you.
With that, you at least have the chance to minimize arguments and disagreements, along with others getting hurt. And losing a club and having to go back to the previous hole to see where a child might or might not have dropped it. Or hidden it. Because they think it’s funny. It may be a good idea for Mommy to hold onto the balls, too, now that I think about it.
My moment of pure genius, however, came when trying to teach the wee ones to hit the ball.
Our biggest problem was in hitting the ball. They would simply walk up to the ball and whack at it. And it was a 50/50 shot that it would head in even close to the right direction, leading to all sorts of meltdowns and tears. I quickly figured out that I needed to get them lined up and help them figure out how to hold the club. Every. Single. Time.
Showing them didn’t work. Picking up their feet and moving them resulted in me being hit by a club too many times, in addition to them falling over. So just like I did in t-ball, I made myself the guide. I placed my feet just outside where they should stand and had them put their feet inside mine so they were lined up properly. Then I would hold the club for them while they gripped it – at last semi-properly – one hand a a time.
So yay. There is now the likelihood that the ball is going to go in the right direction. That made things a whole lot better. But wait! There’s more!
Figuring out how hard to hit the ball was also a big challenge. Too often, they’d wind up and then miss the ball completely or hit it with the wrong part of the club or – more fun – hit it too hard so that it left the green and we got to play hide and seek in addition to mini-golf.
Since the border worked so well with getting them to line up to hit the ball, I decided to stay on that track. Once I have the wee ones lined up to hit the ball, I step back and then place my foot just a few inches behind the ball. They put the club against my foot and then gently hit the ball so that it goes where it is supposed to. They’re far more likely to hit it with the correct side of the club, and yes, to hit it in general.
When the wee ones start at a hole, I put my foot a little further back, knowing that they have to hit the ball further. When they are really close to the hole, I’ll move my foot even closer to the ball so they’re less likely to hit it too hard and have it rim out.
I think we cut our mini golf time by at least a quarter, and our meltdowns went down about 90% because, of course, we still have to freak out when a) Child 1 gets a hole in one and Child 2 doesn’t, b) we run out of water, or c) Child 1 or loses the match, which is why we don’t play mini golf more often.
But when we do, I’ve figured out how to make it fun for everyone. What are your favorite tips and tricks?