Kids Learning Curve Compared to Adults in Golf

Asheville Golf Home

Dear Jitterbug,

My thirteen-year old son and I took up golf four years ago. The problem is that while I’m still struggling to break 100, he regularly shoots in the low 80s. Do you have any advice that might help me catch up?

Clancy Phillips

Jitterbug Gang Fan


What you describe here is the rule rather than the exception. It’s easy to see why kids improve more rapidly. Still, most grown-ups don’t get it. Adults say, “The learning curve for kids is such that they can learn more than adults in the same amount of time.”

But, why? Let’s think about it. Take the average kid to the basketball court, hand him a basketball and say, “Billy, shoot around for two hours and I’ll be back to get you.” More often than not, you’ll return to find Billy has developed some pretty good shooting skills.

Of course, as adults, we’re tempted to ruin it for him, try to make him learn the way we learn. “Hey Billy, try to remember how your arms were positioned when you made that basket. Make sure your palm is directly under the ball. I think you do better when you flex your knees…”

To the credit of Billy, he’ll dismiss this sort of advice, choose instead to rely on his own sense of feel, and in doing so improve each and every time out. Unfortunately, adults refuse to learn this way. Adults try to technique their way into feel, whereas kids feel their way into technique.

So, Clancy, my advice is twofold. First, until you can free your mind to learn like your child, don’t expect as rapid a progression. Second, enjoy watching him improve.

Mr. Vaughn:

While we’re on the subject of kids, let’s talk about the difference in attitude young people have that makes progress come in larger doses.

Kids stand over a ten-foot putt, and you can see it in their faces: I made one longer than this yesterday. This is gonna surprise everyone when it rolls in. Imagine how impressed everyone will be. Golf is wonderful! I’ve only been playing a short time and I’m already a good putter!

Of course there is a good chance the ten-footer won’t drop, but you can bet the child will respond positively either way. “Oh Man! Just a little bit to the right and it would’ve gone in!”

Adults have a different chatter going on inside their heads: I haven’t made a putt outside gimmee range all day. If I don’t keep my wrists still I’ll never make this putt. I better get the speed right so I don’t three-putt.

Sad, ain’t it? Adults are so bent on results they lose sight of what a good attempt is. If the ten-footer goes in, I stood up to the challenge. If not, it was a waste of effort.

Lord Berry:

The contrast is obvious. Attachment to the result takes away from one’s ability to learn from the attempt. Detachment from the result allows one to observe the attempt, and therefore, make far more rapid gains.

Asheville Golf Home

Ask Jitterbug - Golf Advice Column by Bobby Steiner

Ask Jitterbug - Author Bobby Steiner

About the Author

The following are a list of golf teaching columns generously donated to us by teaching professional and author Bobby Steiner. Bobby teaches golf at The Practice Tee in East Asheville during the summer months, and at The Westin Mission Hills Resort during the winter.

You can reach Bobby at: or

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Bad Rhythm

My swing rhythm gets fast when I play. Do you have any suggestions to help me slow down?

Bad Teacher

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Ball Position

Can you explain your take on ball position? Forward for longer clubs? Back for shorter clubs?

Die or Lag

Do you think it is better to be a firm putter, or to putt the ball so that it barely drops into the cup?

Fanning the Club

My tendency is to fan my hands to the inside on the takeaway. When I use a straight takeaway I can't hit the ball.

Fix is the Problem

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Get the Ball to the Hole

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Golf Schools

Are golf schools worth the money?

Guide the Ball

My golf instructor tells me that I try to 'guide' the ball too much. I've never heard this term, is it a bad thing?

Hip Slide

Can you explain the proper way to pivot during the backswing?

How Many Hours

I'm currently a solid 8-handicap, but I've reached a plateau. How might I rework my practice regimen to improve steadily like I used to?

Kids Learning Curve

My thirteen-year old son and I took up golf four years ago. Now, I am still struggling to break 100 while he shoots low 80s. How do I catch up?

Length of Backswing

I've read that the putting stroke should be the same length going back as going through. What is your take on it?

Long and Slow

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Make Practice Swing

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More Distance

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No Scoop Chips

I suffer from the chipping yips; I can't prevent my right hand from taking over and flipping under the ball. How do I avoid scooping the ball?

No Touch Short Game

I have no short game touch, and I'm a good athlete. Everything I hit feels like a jab or punch. Any help?

No Whiffing

Golf is frustrating to me because I hardly ever get the ball up in the air. Please help!

Range Brilliance

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Sound Swing

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Taking Lessons

I've taken golf lessons for years from many different instructors, but I never get better. Are golf lessons the biggest scam ever thought up?

Teacher a Good Player

Do you think it is important that a teaching professional be a good player?
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Kids learning curve in golf compared to adults. Why kids learn faster.