If you were watching Olympic golf, you know that the U.S. won gold in Men's and Women's Golf. Xander Schauffele, 27 and Nelly Korda, 23 won gold by sticking to their game even after facing adversity on the course. It is really inspiring to see young golfers exhibiting these traits on a world stage. Highlight videos of their final rounds are posted at the very end for your reference.
After watching them both win golds, I was curious about when they started playing golf. Xander started at the age of 9 but did not start playing seriously until he was 12. His family, however, could not afford the travel expenses associated with competitive play that could rank him nationally, so he played college golf and then worked his way onto the PGA tour by playing the Web.com Tour (now called Korn Ferry Tour).
Nelly started playing golf at the age of 6 when her older sister, Jessica (also an LPGA tour player) started becoming serious about the sport. When she qualified for the U.S. Women's Open 2013 and made the cut, one month before her 15th birthday, a desire to play on tour awakened. She would eventually join the LPGA 4 years later after a tough year on the Symetra Tour.
Two very different and difficult paths towards becoming a professional golfer. Both remained committed to their goal, never giving up and I believe it is that same grit that carried them through to win gold.
Based on interest from some of my homeschool families, I decided to offer a Golf Summer Camp this year. In order for it to be successful, I would not only need my usual team of coaches but I also wanted my teenage golf students to join the team as volunteers. I believed their participation would add another layer of fun and relatability to the experience.
Additionally, I thought the experience would help them learn patience. As they helped a younger golfer, they would naturally notice the technique flaws that plague them in their own swing. The end result their own game could potentially improve.
Fortunately, when I started sharing the opportunity with my students, I received overwhelming support for their involvement. Several of my students, even signed up to volunteer for at least 3 of the 4 summer camp sessions that I was offering. I was very pleased because this shows that while golf may be an individual sport, it is also a community.
My volunteers did not disappoint. They arrived early for set up and often stayed after camp to practice their own skills. They were willing to do whatever was asked of them without complaint. Most importantly, they were not shy about working with the younger golfers offering tips and guidance when it was needed.
I could not be more proud. Sharing knowledge and paying it forward...this is how we grow the sport!!
I am thankful that my schedule has been busy but that means I get behind on recognizing my junior students who have been playing golf competitively this season. This is long overdue, I am proud of each of them for getting out to play golf. It is my honor to coach them!!
Sara is probably my busiest junior competing in tournaments hosted by the South Florida PGA Junior Section, Under Armour and U.S. Kids. She is 8 years old but she is competing in the 9-11 age division. Recently she took second place at Banyan Cay Resort and Golf with a score of 44 and at Country Club of Miami with a score of 46. She is currently in fifth place overall in the U.S. Kids West Palm Beach Local Tour.
Mateo is competing in tournaments hosted by the South Florida PGA Junior Section and Under Armour this season. He is 9 years old, competing in the 9-11 age division. He recently placed third with a 41 at Jensen Beach Golf Club and has three second place finishes in the South Florida PGA Junior Section: shooting 41and 42 at Banyan Cay Resort and Golf on separate occasions and 41 at Country Club of Miami.
Thomas is 13 and he enjoys competing in U.S. Kids 18 hole tournaments. He competes in the 13-14 age division and recently placed first at The Saints Golf Course with a score of 74. He is currently in fourth place overall in the U.S. Kids West Palm Beach Local tour. This is incredible considering Thomas had a rough start to the season and had to recover from surgery.
David is 14 and he is competing in tournaments hosted by the South Florida PGA Junior Section and Under Armour in the 12-14 age division. Since this is his first year playing competitive golf he is playing 9 hole tournaments with hopes of moving up to 18 very soon. So far, David has a first place finish at Country Club of Miami with a 39, three second place finishes and two third place finishes.
The biggest obstacle that some of my students have is the golf ball. They are determined to swing at the ball instead of focusing on their swing and allowing the ball to simply get in the way. This sounds simple to comprehend but for a golfer who is determined to use his body to make the ball go far, it seems far more complicated. I call these golfers aggressive.
There is nothing wrong with being aggressive in how you approach the shot but attacking the ball will always lead to frustration. As a result, I spend a lot of time talking to my students about how to visualize the shot. They need to see the shot happening in their mind because the brain controls the body. I firmly believe if you have a specific outcome in your mind your body will create that outcome. The idea is to program your brain to focus on the spot where the ball needs to land instead of obsessing over hitting the ball.
Recently, one of my students shared this article with me because it reminded him of what I keep telling him. It is a good read. Click here to read it!!
If your junior golfer has been taking lessons for awhile and they are developing a passion for the sport you may be wondering what's next for them? My answer is simply let them play! This can mean taking them to the golf course and letting them play a few holes with you until they can work up the stamina to walk 9 holes with their bag. Yes, walk. Competitive junior golfers walk the golf course. If they are ready for competition, you may want to consider the Drive, Chip and Putt competition or tournament play.
Drive, Chip and Putt
As the Masters Tournament approaches, you will hear more about the Drive, Chip and Putt competition for junior golfers. This competition is free of charge and culminates with finalists from around the country competing at the following year's Masters Tournament in Augusta, GA. It is a skills challenge!! Registration begins tomorrow, March 1, 2021.
If your golfer is ready to play the course with other golfers in their age group, then they may be ready to play in tournaments. Please read my earlier post to determine their readiness before considering the tournament options that follow.
South Florida PGA-Junior Section Tournaments
The South Florida PGA Section offers tournament opportunities that will challenge your golfer as their skills improve on the golf course. I highly recommend the Links Tour for for first time tournament players since it is only 9 holes and caddies are allowed for younger golfers.
Under Armour Presents The Junior Tour
This tournament option is for golfers of all ages. When you register you are committing to play in all tournaments as scheduled. The registration fee is paid upfront.
If you have specific questions about your junior's abilities, please feel free to contact me.