Kids Are Golfers, Too!
USGA's Junior Par System allows
youngsters to learn golf under realistic
and attainable standards.
by MARTY PARKES
REMEMBER WHEN you needed to pull over a chair and climb up before you could reach the kitchen counter or turn a doorknob?
If this Lilliputian sensation of living in a land of giants remains somewhere in your memory, then you shouldn't have too much trouble understanding the frustration young people feel when they start to play golf. Long, long fairways. Deep, deep bunkers. And wide, wide putting greens. Combine these obstacles with a par system that most children can never hope to match, and you can see why many kids give up golf practically before they have started to play.
A remedy to this dilemma now lies at hand: the USGA's Junior Par System. The philosophy behind Junior Par remains extremely simple: Kids should have a par system that features realistic, attainable standards.
Junior Par is simple, inexpensive to institute at a golf course, and, best of all, encourages children to develop an interest in the game. Junior Par is not unlike similar programs in other sports. If you can recall the Little League baseball games of your youth, mosquitoes, walks, and wild pitches probably dominate your memory. As a result, T-ball (in which youngsters hit a baseball off a stationary stand) was implemented to help youngsters learn and enjoy baseball without experiencing frustration with the slow pace of old-style Little League baseball games.
Following in the footsteps of T-ball, many youth basketball programs today feature play on smaller courts with 8-foot baskets (10 feet is regulation height) and 7- inch-diameter balls (9 inches is regulation diameter). These adjustments give youngsters a better chance to handle and shoot a basketball at a hoop they have a reasonable chance of reaching. The result? Young players can enjoy basketball without the frustration of struggling in vain to make a hoop.
THE INNOVATOR behind Junior Par is Dean Knuth, USGA Director of Handicapping. When asked why he devised Junior Par, Knuth says, "Kids have high expectations and a low frustration threshold. If they can't make par, they get frustrated and quit. This system sets achievable standards for kids that keep them coming back and playing again."