Golf Australia

Lee Harrington: What can golf teach your kids?

Lee Harrington teaching
Lee Harrington believes golf has a lot to offer juniors, both on and off the course. Photo: Golf Queensland.

Honesty, Integrity, Courtesy, Judgement, Sportsmanship, Respect, Confidence, Responsibility and Perseverance. (The First Tee core values)

And yes of course the golf skills of Rip It, Roll It, Chip It, Fly It, Blast It and Bend It. (My Golf Skills)

My Junior teaching philosophy: Champions in life first and champions in golf second.

Golf is a sport played for life, with life skills that last a lifetime, on and off the golf course.

As a kid growing up I did not automatically act with integrity, make good judgements, exude confidence or demonstrate sportsmanship. The acquisition of these values is often a product of our environment and a series of processes that evolve from our real life experiences.

Through the game of golf I learnt valuable life skills that have continually stood me in good stead as a person throughout my life. These have included problem solving, managing time, controlling one’s emotions, making friends with peers, working well with others and improving relationships with family and community. Yes, they can all be taught through the game of golf.

Here are some of the life skills we coach with our junior sessions – whether it be at our driving range, on the golf course or at schools we visit;

Decision-making – in upholding golf tradition we ask you to decide on what to wear and how to act, as well as playing decisions; what club to use, where to stand, when to talk and move. You require a total awareness of your environment, playing partners and peers.

Self-management and discipline – reacting to a good and bad shot, winning or losing the skills competition, interacting with your playing partners and the ongoing dedication and structure in the requirements of practice routines.

Setting goals – clearly defined goals for your practice to improve your golf skills - over a session, a day, a month, a year and 5 years.
Etiquette – you want to give off the best impression that you can by looking the person in the eye and shaking their hand at the end of every session or round.

Studies have shown that these golf skills are transferred to situations involving school, family, friends, jobs, universities, career as well as out-of-school activities.

Teaching kids to Embrace Failure: As in life failure happens in practice or on a golf course often. When it does, you’ve got a choice. It can be demotivating, causing fear and anxiety. Or you can look at it as normal and incredibly valuable.
Two bad shots in a row, combined with a high score on a hole – does it make you want to walk off the course? Do you get up to the next shot and think about all the bad things that could happen?
We teach the juniors to embrace failure, analyse, learn, react and move on. The next shot may also be a poor shot, but it won’t be for the same reason. Never give up. What a great philosophy to be learnt through golf, in helping what life throws at us daily.

You may ask how could a game about chasing a little white ball be so relevant to life? Let me finish this article and explain with a little help from some of the game’s legends…

“One of the most fascinating things about golf is how it reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you shoot – the next day you have to go back to the first tee and begin all over again and make yourself into something.”
- Peter Jacobsen

Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the ball where it lies."
- Bobby Jones


Lee Harrington has been both a PGA and ALPG member for nearly 20 years, and is currently employed as a Development Officer for Golf Queensland.
She also runs a successful coaching and retail / club fitting business, with husband and PGA member Peter, The Golf School, at Palm Meadows on the Gold Coast.
Her passion for grass roots development, developed through an early PE background, flows through all her teaching and programs. Lee was recently appointed on the ALPG board with the focus to assist in the development of girls and female golf participation.

27 April 2016
20 April 2016
Golf Australia