Suggestions/ Recommendations

for Junior Golf in Charleston

I played junior/ college golf and my three kids (10, 8, 6) are all crazy about golf and play competitively. I also coach their middle school golf team. People ask me a lot of questions about junior golf (how to get started, when kids are ready for competition, etc.). Although I am no expert, the world of junior golf is a little tricky to navigate so I have compiled what I have learned, junior golf opportunities in this area and my other advice here.  


When kids are really young, they might not need lessons quite yet. Maybe have them hit around in your yard or let them ride around in the cart while you play and let them hit a couple shots.

As they get older, take them to the range, putting green and play some holes whenever you can. Make up little games and bring their friends along. I think the most important thing is making golf fun and learning to make contact with the ball; and learning the rules, etiquette, safety and appropriate behavior.

As they become more interested, maybe try group lessons to gauge interest then move to private lessons for one-on-one instruction.

Group Lessons:

- First Tee: First Tee is awesome, especially for beginners. This is a wonderful group lesson environment. It is really popular so get on their email list and sign up when registration opens. It is a lottery system so you might not always get in; just try again the next season. Kids start around age 5/6 and move up from there. They reinforce important values such as honesty, sportsmanship, and respect. Lessons are held at several courses including Patriots Point, Wescott, Charleston Municipal, Berkeley Country Club and Wrenwood. Meghan Taylor is so helpful if you have any First Tee questions.

* For girls in First Tee, be sure to register for the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program. They host a girl’s night out about every-other-month at Patriots Point and they are so much fun!

- The City of Charleston Municipal Golf course has some wonderful junior group lessons/ programs/ camps. You can find info on City of Charleston recreation website

- Operation 36 Golf group lessons. We haven’t done this program but I have heard great things about it. I believe they have this program at Daniel Island and RiverTowne County Club. My understanding is the kids start from a certain level (25 yards from the green) and work their way back. When they shoot par (36) or better, they progress to the next level. 

- Brandon Ray at Patriots offers group lessons

- Charleston National offers group lessons

Private lessons:

There are a lot of wonderful junior golf coaches in and around Charleston. I don’t know all of them but here are a few that we know:

- Neil Gowan teaches out of Charleston Municipal  and Patriots Point 843-303-4434

- Boykin or Preston at City of Charleston Municipal Golf Course. You can contact the course or Boykin has online scheduling

- Teresa or John at Snee Farm

- Brandon Ray at Patriots Point

- Again, other courses have some great teaching pros (Wild Dunes, Bulls Bay, Daniel Island, Charleston National, Wescott, etc)

Most important: Be sure to supplement group and private lessons with practice. Again, take them to the range, putting green and play holes as much as possible. Like any sport, you have to practice to get better!

Junior Golf Camps:

A lot of courses offer camps over Summer or school holidays/ breaks. 

- First Tee (various courses)

- City of Charleston Municipal Golf Course

- Charleston National

- Daniel Island

Tournaments/ Matches/ Playing Competitively:

As far as when kids are ready for golf tournaments, that really is so subjective and depends on the child. I think what's more important than how well they play is they need to have fun and have a pretty good understanding of the rules and etiquette. When/ if you think they might be ready, my philosophy is to just go for it. My kids started playing matches at about age 6/7. I just went ahead and "threw them in" even though I was not sure if they were ready. We've had some growing pains and they’re still young so I am not sure what the long-run will look like but, for now, they love tournaments (most of the time) and I am happy I did it this way.

All players have bad rounds. The kids have rounds where they are picking up after maxing out strokes/ topping it while their playing partners are shooting pars and hitting 150-yard drives. This does not seem to bother my kids; and they seem to recover from a bad round pretty quickly. However, I have seen some kids get really discouraged by this and end up miserable/ quit. In my mind, unless you think that situation would discourage them to the point they don't want to play anymore, there really is no "perfect" time to start playing competitively.... For us, it is the good holes/ shots that keep us coming back!

- PJA Junior League: A great "starting" series to consider is PJA Junior League. I recommend this as a great “first step” towards tournaments. This is a very fun summer tournament series where the kids play in teams (best ball/ captain’s choice). It is not a lot of pressure and they get a pretty good understanding of the rules.

- USKIDS Golf: I love these matches because the kids play age-appropriate tees and you play against kids the same age. You caddie for your child (carry their bag, help them pick clubs, line up putts, help with rules questions, etc). There are pros and cons to this but it can be a great bonding experience (although my youngest child has fired me as caddie after a bad shot :)). The kids can pick up after 10 strokes. These matches are usually year-round and there are many different tours around the state/ country. You can progress to more competitive levels/ events (regional/ worlds) as you advance. We absolutely LOVE the Charleston tour (and Columbia and Savannah are great as well if you don't mind the drive). The director for the Charleston tour, Mark Anderson, is amazing, super organized and so helpful!

- SCJGA (South Carolina Junior Golf Association): Matches around the state, including a Charleston Summer tour. You cannot caddie/ talk to the kids (there are pros and cons to this but I like how they kinda have to figure it out on their own), the tees are a little further back and the competition age ranges can be tough (7-9, 10-12, etc.) so I would say this might be considered a little more competitive level. They need to know the basic rules pretty well. But they can pick up after double par and they encourage all skill levels to participate. My kids started these when they were young/ pretty inexperienced (these were the first tournaments they ever played) and we absolutely love this tour. The director of the Charleston tour, Jeff Burton, is awesome!

- You can do one or all of these tours (or just pick the matches that work with your schedule). There are other tours as they advance and some courses offer seasonal or annual junior matches (check Legend Oaks in Summerville, Patriots Point and Charleston Municipal). Also, a lot of schools have golf teams (middle school/ high school) that play against other area schools. From my experience, I would say most school golf teams/ matches are for more experienced players.

Tournament check list: Here my “check list” for tournaments if it helps (most are obvious): golf clothes ("dryfit material"), clubs, golf umbrella, pull cart, glove, towel, balls, tees, ball markers, golf shoes, warm hat/ hand warmers/ jacket if cold, cooler with drinks/ snacks. I also recommend getting a range/ distance finder such as a Bushnell scope or a digital range finder. Not everyone has this but it has made our life so much easier as distances are not always easy to find on the courses.

Affordable Junior Golf Charleston:

Again, take the kids out to play holes whenever you can, even just a couple of holes is great! If you are not a member of a country club, there are several semi-private and public courses around the area that offer very affordable options. First Tee even has a program where kids can play for free. This is a great opportunity to try new courses and meet up with friends at a location that works for everyone.

- First Tee has a program where kids 18 and under to play for free in 2021- no registration/ enrollment required. You do not have to be in the First Tee program to take advantage of this (truly no strings attached)

- Charleston National is also very affordable for juniors. You can join for about $100ish per year. It is only $5 for juniors to play, cart included!

- Patriots Point and City of Charleston Municipal are only about $12 for juniors

Golf Clubs:

When kids are first starting out, I do not think they need a full set of fancy clubs. My advice is to get a decent basic/ starter set (putter, pitching wedge, iron and driver). First Tee actually has a program where you can get clubs for free

The most important thing is to make sure the clubs are not too big or heavy (you want them to grow out of the clubs; not grow into the clubs).

Clubs are a little pricey so I would make sure they’re showing interest before investing in a nice set. Most kids use USKIDS clubs. They sell directly from their website and it is easy to find the right size/ fit by height. Ultra-Light is usually good for any level. Once they advance and increase swing speed, they usually move to the tour series.

Once they advance, you will likely start investing in nicer, more-advanced drivers or sets (such as Ping) and/or you can get fitted for clubs at a golf shop.

I hope this information helps! Remember, the most important thing is to try to instill a life-long love of the game! Set up golf play dates with their friends. Make it a family activity.

Most importantly, have FUN!!