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.
There are tons of video clips online of golf shots that make the crowd roar. Whether the it is an Ace, a hole out, an amazing putt or a shot from tough lie. I believe they all have one thing in common. Imagination. If you cannot imagine the ball going in the hole or making it to your intended target before you make the shot then you probably should find another sport to play.
Most golfers give up too easily, allowing their emotions to take the lead. If you want to set yourself apart from the pack, start looking at every situation as an opportunity to use your imagination. First, take a breath and relax. Next, change your perspective of where your ball lies and look at the shot from a different vantage point. Now imagine the path of the ball and think about the approach you need to take to make it happen. Take the shot. Does this mean that the outcome is guaranteed? Absolutely not, but instead of giving up, you gave yourself a chance.
I remembered seeing this concept among others in the movie Seven Days in Utopia and I was inspired to share it with my junior golfers by challenging them to make Christmas socks. The socks, however, had to be socks that they already owned or created from materials that they had available to them at home. No outside purchase of materials was allowed.
A week later, they returned having had a lot of fun using their imagination. They discovered that it did not require a lot of effort to make the socks. It was easy to create the socks because they thought about what the socks could look like first. They thought about how to change the appearance of the socks which is basically the same as changing your viewpoint of a difficult shot of the golf course. Then they made the changes which is same as taking the shot on the golf course.
I picked up golf as a kid when my Dad introduced the sport to me. I really enjoyed playing but my brothers did not find it all that interesting until we were adults. When we play together we share a lot of laughs. I played a lot when my children were younger and they joined me at the driving range for practice. Eventually, they started to swing the club and today when our schedules allow we play a round together.
Playing golf can really bring families together, for this reason I enjoy when I have the opportunity to become coach to parent and child. I also believe it is a great way for parents to connect with their children outside in the fresh air. When you play the course, you have time to bond without the distractions of technology; including cell phones. I recommend leaving the phone in the car, I do. Enjoy the time as a family, your time together is precious, cherish it.
Playing together also provides opportunities for learning perseverance and overcoming challenges. Golf will test you at any age. Parents can teach their children how to persevere and become their cheerleader and once in a great while the children serve in this role for their parents.
Ultimately, it is the feeling of completion that both parent and child can experience from the tee box to hole. Every hole provides an opportunity for celebration and smiles. When you miss hit the ball, laugh about it, relax and do it again. Have fun. Now more than ever, families need to have more fun.
When I first met Ezakiah, he was practicing putting with one of my students. I learned that the two of them met while playing in the South Florida PGA Junior Section Links Tour, now they have become friends. His Dad asked me what I thought about him and I was honest when I said he has a lot of raw talent he just needs to slow down. About a week, later I received a text inquiring about some lessons.
He is by far the smallest 7 year old I have coached so far and he has a lot of energy that needed to be harnessed in the correct way. He has become extremely attentive and always repeats everything I say during his lessons. He really wants to improve and he practices by playing the course in between lessons which has built up his confidence level. His strokes in tournament play have also decreased leading to his best 9 hole tournament score of 46 and a first place finish.
Ezakiah has the best attitude toward golf that I have seen in a long time. He is always happy and ready to learn. He is extremely polite and he is always impeccably dressed for his golf lessons. He comes dressed to succeed and after just seven lessons he is well on his way.
Mateo started learning golf when he was 5 years old but he told me that he really started to like it after I took over his group classes. He was quite talented for his age, so I encouraged his Mom to consider private lessons as well. He quickly excelled and moved up from the Little Linkers to Level 1 where I introduced the 9 Core Values. In order to move up to Level 2, golfers were required to attain a certain score on a golf skills assessment. The first time, he was nervous, the second time he came close and the third time he crushed it. While the first two assessments were disappointing he learned a lot about himself and his golf game. Now, I felt he was ready to play tournaments.
Tournaments proved to be a testing ground for true perseverance and grit. With a little coaching from his caddie, he was able to work through some mental challenges on the course and place first a dozen times and second a few times. Mateo, now 8, picked up tournament play again in June and he started to struggle with perseverance. "I have a hard time forgetting what went wrong on the last hole. I get upset and then it carries into the next hole. Sometimes I just don't recover." He puts a lot of pressure on himself because he wants to be perfect.
No golfer is perfect so I had to spend a lot of time with him encouraging him to focus on the fundamentals that I have always taught him. His early success, left him complacent. Complacency led to over confidence which led to mistakes and a lack of perseverance. It was a tough summer of learning and growing for him.
This past weekend, he was given the opportunity to play up in the 9-11 group of the South Florida PGA Junior Section Links Tour at Indian Spring Country Club in Boynton Beach. He was nervous but when he saw a familiar face from his previous PGA Junior League Team he was more relaxed. He played bogey golf through 4 holes. "I was not happy, but after the 4th bogey, I decided to focus. I needed to catch up. I was making too many mistakes." He birdied 5, parred 6 and birdied 7 to tie the leader. That birdie would lead to a first place finish for Mateo in a scorecard playoff.
The win was special because he played against two 10 year-olds who could out drive him. It was intimidating but he overcame it and finally did what I had been teaching him to do, persevere-never give up.