Once a year, golf enthusiasts get an opportunity to see professional golfers play at The Honda Classic. While the tournament is Thursday-Sunday, the entire week was filled with opportunities for junior golfers to experience golf like never before. This year, several of my junior students were able to take advantage of some unique opportunities:
The First Tee invited Jayda Dookie to play in the Monday Pro-Am at The Honda Classic with PGA Professional, Austin Smotherman.
On Tuesday, Abby Falcon, Kaleb Falcon, Blake Leon, Mateo Muñiz, Kirra Pugliese, Nick Pugliese and Xander Trivlis attended a First Tee Junior Clinic featuring demonstrations by PGA Professionals Chase Koepka and Erik Compton.
On Friday, Joshua Isaac Sidney and Mateo Muñiz were Standard Bearers. David Peschansky was one on Saturday. A standard bearer is a person who carries the mobile scoreboard during a golf tournament for their assigned group of golfers. The Honda Classic offers this opportunity to juniors which allows them to watch and follow the golfers closely behind the ropes.
Another behind the ropes experience is serving as a junior reporter. Jayda Dookie had the opportunity to interview Chase Koepka on Friday.
On Saturday, First Tee invited Spencer Shapiro, Jayda Dookie, Annika Collado and Blake Leon to participate in a behind-the-scenes tour of The Honda Classic.
Today, Annika Collado and Mateo Muñiz were invited to play in the First Tee Monday After the Honda Tourney. They teed off on hole #3 in a shotgun start.
I decided to do the putting challenge again because I enjoy seeing individual creativity. No matter how old, we all can find joy in building something that was once only a thought. As I watched the videos, I remembered how this activity also brought families together as they watched their golfer independently create, or work together with siblings as their creation progressively took over the home. It also provided an opportunity for the golfers to overcome challenges, persevere and celebrate victory with their family. It is truly awesome to see!
"This was a fun challenge! Thank you for such a creative way to teach and involve them."
"After two rebuilds & hundreds of putts..."
"After several hours of trial-and-error and a great lesson in challenge, failure and perseverance... Thank you for this exercise-it was very valuable for us, in many ways!"
"He did it, all by himself."
"After several days of shots coming so close, but having weather and day light run out, this was the closest we were able to capture on camera by the deadline."
The coaches had a touch time picking the winners this year. In the end, we looked at the designs to first determine the difficulty of the hole where the ball would land and then we looked at the probability of the ball making it into the hole.
The South Florida PGA Junior Section season has started. The first Prep Tournament was canceled today due to inclement weather but the first Links Tournament of the season was played at Jupiter Dunes yesterday without any issues. I always tell my students, the best way to gain confidence in your game is get out and play.
Registering for a tournament is another level of play. A crowd of people may be watching you which can be stressful. In addition to playing, you are keeping the score of the other golfers in your group while trying to remember the different rules of play. It is a completely different experience that can be exciting or deflating if you do not have the right attitude which is to have fun.
Winning is great but when your goal is to win, you play stressed and are unable to make clear decisions. It is important to play relaxed and focus on one shot at a time. If you can learn something about your game that you can improve you are already winning.
Congratulations to Abriella Morrison and Danny Tadeo! Abriella earned second place in the girls 6-8 division and Danny finished second in the boys 12-14 division. All smiles and they already let me know what they need to work on before their next tournament.
If you have had a lesson with me, you have heard me ask, "What were you thinking about?" The response is typically not what it should be; "I was thinking of the ball flying through the air and landing at my target." Instead, most focus on creating the perfect swing and then they overcomplicate something that is supposed to be really simple.
Another piece of advice I give my students to is be deliberate with their practice. It is not about the quantity of balls that you hit, it is about the quality. The more realistic you make your practice, the better you will become on the course. Simply hitting a bunch of balls to some target on the range is not going to help you on the course. You have to challenge yourself by picking different targets and switching out clubs. Every time you take a shot visualize a hole on a course. Would the ball land in the fairway? How many yards do you have left to get to the green? Get creative.
One of my students loves to research and he sent me the article below because it reminded him of what I keep telling him. Check it out.
Several of my students attended the Gainbridge LPGA Junior Clinic today where they had an opportunity to hear from LPGA tour players: Rachel Rohanna, Allison Emery, and Haley Moore. Based on the feedback that I received everyone had a blast. A few of them even won their putting challenges.
I will admit, I was not familiar with these pros so I had to do some research and I was very impressed with the stories I found. Check them out below and be inspired!