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Free Range Kids


Free range parenting

'a style of child rearing in which parents allow their children to move about without constant adult supervision, aimed at instilling independence and self-reliance'



My friend Graham Bolton based in Cairns, Australia is conducting a little experiment. One of the golf courses he coaches at does not have a driving range. The kids he spends time with are free of the driving range, they are not caged in. They are let free to explore the golf course. They chip and putt, have competitions between themselves on the golf course and join in with the member's competitions.



I must acknowledge that the juniors at this club do receive some technical instruction we spend a little time every couple of weeks looking at different parts of their game individually.

However, the bulk of the time is spent creating situations on the golf course and then trying to figure out how to solve the problem. Situations that recreate what will be faced on a golf course. Tight lies, thick rough, under a tree, pressure to perform when needed, consequences when it doesn’t work out, decision making, uneven lies, crazy lies, competition pressure.


What I am doing is not random either during these sessions. I am intentionally putting constraints on what options they have and affording them opportunities to come up with solutions. If the problem is too great I’ll make it easier or suggest things they could try.

I really don’t want to give them all the answers and its better if it comes from them.It’s funny during the classes the juniors often play shots I never taught them – A bunker shot with an 8 iron or a hooked chip shot for instance. If you spend a bit of time exploring what you can do with the golf club it’s amazing the different ways you can play a shot.


I tell the juniors lots of stories and use analogies often to help get the point across. One junior asked me a while back why I was so good at shaping shots. My answer was not what he expected – I told him that as my long game was not the best as a junior I had to be good at shaping the ball to get back into play. Guess what they asked we work on next?


I wish every late to the game adult could experience what these juniors are doing. Late to the game adults often point out how much easier golf would be if they had learned the golf swing when they were younger. I agree with them, but the real difference is how ridged they often are with how they learn. A big bucket of balls twice a week on the range and a lesson every so often.


Try putting yourself into the learning environments these Free-range kids spend most of their time in and in and see what happens! Or even ask your coach to go out on the golf course and create these experiences for you, trust me it is more fun!


Perhaps the driving range is your cage and to really flourish as a golfer you need to break free. Find the environment that golf is played in and learn there’

Graham won’t tell you, however, I can. Which golf course do think in Graham’s area is having great success in terms of participation and junior competitions?

Graham’s details are on here:


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