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.
I have been coaching Sara since 2017 and she is an absolute delight. She encountered many ups and downs as she battled flaws in her swing which left her unhappy with her performance at times. Her competitive nature also caused her to try too hard to make things work which was very frustrating for her.
We spent time talking through her challenges and she started to become a better student of the game. I filmed her, she studied what she was doing wrong and she practiced for hours at a time until she could make the corrections. She is a determined young golfer.
Sara started playing in U.S. Kids tournaments last year and her performance earned her an invite to Regionals. She was presented a beautiful trophy for her 3rd place finish and she wanted to share it with me. It is truly an honor to coach her. She is only 8 years old and her future is bright. I have no doubt she will attain her goal of first place soon.
I love teaching golf and I especially love teaching golf to students who are willing to put in the time to practice. I stress this to all of my students but especially for students who purchase lesson packages and plan to have a lesson on a weekly basis. I make the commitment to my students and I expect my students to make the commitment to practice what they have learned in the lesson. Why? I don't like to see people waste money.
If a week goes by and my student has not practiced, it is very unlikely that we are going to make much progress in the next lesson. I want my students to improve in their skills and their game. That progression happens during a student's practice time when neural pathways are created.
Neural pathways are formed whenever we start a new behavior. Golf can be a new behavior for a beginner student or it can be an existing behavior that needs to be altered for an amateur golfer. Either way it takes time for your brain to impress the new behavior into your memory. Just like riding a bike, once you have learned you do not need to learn again.
Golf skills, however, require more practice because learning how to swing a golf club is only the beginning. The physics of the golf swing will take you on a journey of varying emotions as you play the course. It is not something that you will master after one lesson without practice. For this reason, I do not recommend taking a lesson just before your tee time.
If you want to progress, make the time to practice. If life gets in the way and you cannot practice; reschedule your lesson.
Each week during my Homeschool Group Golf Classes I focus on one or more of the First Tee 9 Core Values. I firmly believe that junior golfers become people of character as they learn them and actually apply them in their everyday lives. That belief allows me to look forward to the future with hope.
While some junior golfers take the initiative to learn and apply, most need a helping hand or a gentle push from a parent, mentor or even an older sibling. It is my hope that the discussion questions that follow will be used as conversation starters in the car, during dinner or casual walk. Try one soon and let me know how it goes. Remember, these are not one-time conversations.
Core Value Discussion Questions
1. Respect is being polite and kind in one’s actions. What are some ways you can be respectful at home? What are some ways you can be respectful outside of the home?
2. Courtesy is being or acting polite to others. What are some ways you can be courteous at home? What are some way you can be courteous outside of the home?
3. Responsibility is it’s up to me, I am the one myself and others depend on to make it happen. What are some ways you can be responsible at home? What are some ways you can be responsible outside of your home?
4. Honesty is telling the truth. Describe a time where you were honest.
5. Sportsmanship is playing by the rules and acting nice to others no matter if you are winning or losing. Describe a time you were exhibiting sportsmanship.
6. Confidence is a feeling of “I can do it!” Describe a time you felt confident. What are some ways you can help yourself be more confident?
7. Judgment is to make a decision or form an opinion. What are some ways you can use good judgment at home? What are some ways you can use good judgment outside of your home?
8. Perseverance is to keep going to matter what. Describe a time you had to persevere and what helped you keep going.
9. Integrity is knowing the difference between right and wrong; doing what is right even when no one is looking. Describe a person you think has integrity.
10. Complete the following statement. I will use the core value of ____________at least once every day by __________________________ because ________________________.
Water is essential to life and makes up 60% of our bodies. It has many different roles in the body that can be affected by how much water we have available. Considering a hydration strategy when golfing is important but when golfing in the heat, it becomes essential.
We lose water through respiration, perspiration and urination. Any type of exercise or sport activity done in the heat, such as golf, speeds up the rate of water loss making it more important to not only hydrate with water but to also replace electrolytes.
Water’s many roles include transporting nutrients to the cells, carries waste products away from cells, lubricates the joints, regulates the body’s temperature and supplies minerals to the body. Some of those minerals are electrolytes.
Electrolytes help regulate muscle contractions (your heart is a muscle) as well as help keep you hydrated, help balance pH levels and control the central nervous system. We lose electrolytes with the water that comes out of our body; replacing them can be critical not only for health but also for golf performance.
We know why water is important but how do we go about hydrating properly? Fluid balance or proper hydration is similar to energy balance (food intake vs output). It is important to avoid fluid imbalance for health as well as sport performance. These four easy steps will help you to hydrate daily before and after your practice or round.
1. Determine how much water you need to drink on a daily basis by using this equation:
One of the easiest way to determine how much water you need is by body weight. This would be the basic amount you need daily without exercise.
*Yes, you’ll need to find a metric converter like this one to do the math.
Water Needs: 30 – 40 mL of water per 1 kg of bodyweight (*this is a base number - additional water will be needed for activity as well). Example: if you weigh 50 kg (110 lb), you would need 1.5 L – 2 L of water per day.
2. Pre-hydration - Drinking about 2 cups of water BEFORE intense exercise begins ensures adequate hydration to start.
3. During Exercise – 1 cup (8 ounces) of water mixed with electrolytes (about 3/4 water to 1/4 electrolyte) every 15 minutes approximately. Examples of electrolytes include Gatorade, Powerade, coconut water, Electromix, or Nuun (there are many others to choose from as well. It’s important to read labels and choose a product based on your own personal needs.)
4. After Exercise – Fluid intake is required to assist in recovery. Recovering with a mix of water, protein and carbs is a great idea in addition to electrolytes if needed.
Formula: Approximately 15g of protein, 30g of carbs, electrolytes and water.
I hope this information is helpful. Special thanks to my personal trainer who took the time to explain the specifics so I can share them.