I read an interesting article on the airplane during my recent flight home from New Mexico. The feature story discussed kid’s playgrounds, and the thought process that goes into the design of new playgrounds in today’s world. The idea being that instead of just putting in standard slides and swings, playground designers are incorporating skills meant to challenge and push the limits of kids. This challenges their minds and pays huge dividends in their early development. The article got me thinking about how this could relate to golf. More specifically, how could this relate to junior golf. The question is: How can we break away from the standard way of teaching kids about golf, and instead challenge them in ways to enhance their development? We need to be more creative in the way we learn how to play golf. Two key factors in why golf isn’t as popular as it ought to be is that it’s expensive, and it can tend to be boring. Rather than keep junior golfers on the practice range hitting multiple buckets of balls, let’s start challenging them to hit a moving range cart while the employee is driving around picking up the balls. Most kids do this anyway, but let’s encourage them to do it. This keeps their minds active, and they must learn how to control the trajectory and distance of their shot while anticipating the movement of the cart. Rather than chipping a bucket of balls from a stationary spot to improve their short game fundamentals, find a small tree and challenge them to pitch their ball OVER the tree. Now, they are being challenged, and this challenge becomes exciting. The best part of it all is that they are developing a skill set without even realizing that they are practicing. It’s sort of reverse psychology. My point is that I remember growing up and having an incredible experience learning golf. My friends and I would play cross-country golf across the course. Often, this meant hitting a shot over the exterior fence of the driving range, so we could take the shorter route to the hole. Other times, we would blindly toss our golf balls in random directions and learn to get up and down from wherever we found our ball. Sometimes this meant chipping from the parking lot! Much like playgrounds are being designed to challenge the minds of kids, golf should be doing the same thing. Keep the game exciting and the popularity is likely to grow.