With the growth of junior golf over the past few years, more and more junior golf schools are popping up all over the country. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a camp that is right for your child. Try to keep in mind the five "F"s of a junior golf school. These are Facility, Faculty, Fun, Financials and Future.
Look to see where the school is held. Proximity to your home is a consideration but not always the No. 1 priority. If the school is out of town, determine how far of a drive it is to the school, and whether it is near a major city. Most camps will pick up campers that fly in at a nearby airport. Most schools are held on school campuses, be it a college or a prep school. The better camps are held at schools that have a 9-hole golf course and driving range on campus. There are a couple of advantages to going to a school with a golf course and driving range at the facility. First of all, the students get much more practice time and playing time on the course. The less time the campers spend being shuttled to the driving range and course, the more instruction time they receive.
Secondly, if the camp has a golf course right there, students can spend their free time practicing on their own. Spending an hour of free time chipping and putting with fellow campers is a great way to practice what they just learned. The second factor to consider is living arrangements. This factor obviously applies to overnight-campers, not day-campers. Check to see where the campers will be staying and eating. Many schools have nice dorm facilities to stay in and nice dining halls to have meals, but check to be sure. You don't want your kids dining on the moles and gophers trapped by the greenkeeper.
The last thing to take into consideration is the other activities the facility offers. As much as a junior golfers loves the game, they will eventually need a break and do other activities. Most camps offer some options in the afternoon after the instruction is finished. Make sure the camp facility has the capability to offer options. A pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, fitness room are just a few things options that should be open to the campers during down time. Don't forget to ask about indoor activity options as well - in case of rain.
First thing to look for is to see what the ratio is of staff to campers. For a golf camp a ratio of 5 to1 is very good. With this ratio you'll know that the juniors are getting good instruction and the teaching environment is safe. Next, look and see who makes up the faculty. What is the staff's background? Do they have camp experience? Have they worked with kids in the past? Do they have junior golf experience? Are there PGA/LPGA Professionals running the program? Are the counselors college players? Quality camps will have people with a lot of junior golf experience doing the instruction.
Lastly check the school curriculum. What is the program of instruction and does it work with each junior at his/her own level? Does the instructional program cover all aspects of the game and have a proven track record? Is there a specific program for college bound players?
No matter how serious the golfer or school, you can't forget the fun factor. Many junior golfers now go to camp for two and four weeks at a time and if it's not fun, it can negatively impact their future desire to play the game. This goes back to the staff and facility. Is there a place in the program that the golfers can relax and let loose? Is there flexibility in the schedule for options that use the other aspect of the school's facility? Many schools have weekend trips that visit local attractions. Trips to amusement parks and baseball games can break up the instruction and bring the juniors back to camp fresh. The quality of supervision is again key here. We can all think of additional "Fs" we do not want our kids to remember golf camp for.
(Like "food-fights." Why? What were you thinking of?)
Overnight camps vary in cost based on length of stay and program offerings. The typical range is from $800 to $1,400 per week. The day-camper fee is lower by 30-50 percent. In other words, this had better be something both parent and child is committed to. If not, save the money for the kid's college fund.
The better junior golf schools send their students away with a plan for the future. Ask to see what kind of take home package each junior receives. Are there things for each student to work on we he/she gets home and the instructors aren't there? Make sure the school is going to be held the next summer, so students can come back and see the same instructors. Also make it point to get contact information from instructors so your junior golfers can keep in touch and get help with their game at home.
Keep these few tips in mind when choosing a junior golf camp and your junior golfer will find a school where they can not only learn a lot about the game of golf, but even more importantly have a lot fun.