When is the best time for your junior golfer to start playing tournaments? When they are ready. I assess readiness differently for each of my students because they are unique. It is not about age it is truly about confidence in their game and their ability to make decisions on the course.
I have been teaching Mateo since he was 5 years old, after a year I encouraged his mother to register him for local tournaments and then this past summer he joined the PGA Jr. League. He was the youngest player on the team but he played his heart out and his teammates loved having him around.
When I learned that the South Florida PGA Junior Golf tournament series had added the Junior Links Tour, I was excited to discuss this option with his mother. The Links Tour makes individual Jr. PGA Tournament play accessible to golfers ages 6-8. The series of 9-hole events expanded into Palm Beach County this weekend with its first tournament at Johnathan's Landing-Old Trail this past Sunday.
Mateo persevered through some extremely windy conditions on the front nine of the Hills Course (1,895 yards). He overcame some struggles on the first four holes to close with a 45 and a first place finish. I could not be more proud. He has won other tournaments before but this one was special because it was his first PGA Tournament.
As June comes to an end and July starts, I am honored to have the privilege to coach junior golfers. While many recreational players in Florida are avoiding the hot and humid conditions of the golf course in the summer, a number of my junior students are in involved in leagues and playing in tournaments. They are even scheduling their vacations around their golf commitments.
Whether it be the JGFA, U.S. Kids or PGA offerings like the Prep Tour and Junior League, my students have chosen have elected to test their skills on the course and play with other young golfers this summer. I am inspired by their dedication and I am awed by their willingness to learn from every experience that is placed in front of them.
Sadly, I cannot be present at so many events to see them in action but I am thankful for the parents who send me pictures and videos. Knowing that they are out playing, having fun and doing their best makes me happy.
I happened to be coming back from lunch when I spotted some familiar faces on the green just ahead of me. Four of my homeschool group golf students decided to put their skills to the test by playing 9 holes at Okeeheelee Golf Course. When I walked up I experienced the feelings of a proud dad. In less than a year these boys had learned enough to feel comfortable getting on the course and tackling what I call big ball syndrome...this is when the confidence you developed practicing on the range gets eaten up by the vastness of the actual golf course.
The boys were having fun and that's my main goal when teaching junior golfers. Additionally, I was told they were hitting some great drives, approach shots and they were very diligent is filling divots. One of the Moms is also my student so she was serving as their "coach" for the round. Another Mom was taking pictures while the other Moms were watching from the carts. It was really amazing to see. These are memories that these boys will cherish and I can only imagine how the Moms felt watching their young golfers progress through the course.
If you have been watching the PGA on television, you probably have seen the promotions for the PGA Junior League. PGA Junior League offers a great opportunity for your junior golfer to be introduced to competitive play in a team format. If you would like to explore this option for your junior golfer, Coach Mary-Lee Cobick has limited spots available on the Okeeheelee and Park Ridge teams for the Junior Golf Foundation of America. She can be reached at 561-964-4653 Ext 5.
Registration for Summer Golf Camp is now open at Okeeheelee and Park Ridge Golf Courses. This is a great opportunity for junior golfers with some level experience to practice their skills and make new friends. Yes, there are opportunities for your inexperienced golfer as well. All details can be found in the flyer that follows: