Golf great Padraig Harrington offers sound advice to parents on getting kids into the game

Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion, offered some great advice to parents at the PNC Championship on Friday about how to get their kids interested in golf.

Harrington teamed up with his son Ciarán and competed against other gold legends and their children, including Tiger and Charlie Woods, Bernhard and Jason Langer and Annika and Will Sorenstam.

As the first round played on, Harrington talked to The Golf Channel about how to get children involved in the game. He said parents should focus on having their child love the game rather than trying to be good right off the bat.


Padraig Harrington pictured with his son Ciaran Harrington, who will be playing with his father this week as a preview for the PNC Championship at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Dec. 14, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

“I would say to a lot of people, you think providing these for your kids is good, but not really,” he said of the golf facilities. “When it’s easy for kids, they just tend not to want to do it. In hindsight, the best way if you want to get your kid into the game of golf is bring them somewhere where you’re not stressed. That’s very important. Kids pick up on that.

“Let them do what they like when they’re there. Have a bit of fun. If they want to hit one shot, two shots, 10 shots, play in the bunker, look at the whatever, or whatever they want to do, let them do. And generally, bring them home before they get tired. So, the best thing you can do with a kid early on in golf is say hey, we have to go home. And don’t wait ‘til they get tired and hate it, wait ‘til they’re actually enjoying themselves, go home.”

Harrington said that parents spending time with their children one-on-one is as important.

“And the last thing I would say, and this has nothing to do with being a competitive player, it’s about the love of the game. When you’re finished, take 10 minutes to spend with your son or daughter and go and have a Coke, a Pepsi, this week. Go and have a Pepsi in the bar, wherever it is, and sit there, have an ice cream, and spend 10-15 minutes. Because, if they have that 15 minutes alone time with you, just you and them, for the rest of life, every time they play golf, they’ll remember the 15 minutes they had with their father or mother.

Padraig Harrington shot

Padraig Harrington plays a shot from a bunker on the 18th hole during the final round of the PNC Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. Bernhard Langer and his son, Jason Langer, won the 2023 PNC Championship. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


“And that’s what’ll keep bringing them back to college for the next … and remember, these kids will play golf for 90 years. There’s a good chance my kids will be playing when they’re 100. It’s a long career and if every time they play golf it’s bringing that happy memory of when they were a kid and they just got a bit of alone time, a bit of quiet time, a bit of big boy time, you know, when they’re sitting there in the clubhouse and enjoying it. Don’t bring them to the nice country club. That’s not use, that makes them soft anyway.

“And remember, it’s unlikely if your kid gets good at the game that doesn’t necessarily make them love the game. If your kid loves the game, it’s likely that they’ll become good. It’s the love should be first and it’s even more important to get a love for the game because we all know you plateau when you play golf. There’s many plateaus where it really gets frustrating. And if you don’t live it, those plateaus are going to stop your playing, you’re going to give up whereas if you love it you’ll go through anything.”

Team Langer won the competition over the weekend, with the Harringtons finishing 15th.

Padraig Harrington celebrates

Padraig Harrington and son, Ciaran Harrington, react on the 13th green after a birdie during the final round of the PNC Championship at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Dec. 17, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)


The Irish golfer won The Open Championship twice and the PGA Championship once in his career. He has 15 victories on the European Tour and six on the PGA Tour.

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