Junior Golf – 4 Reasons Junior Should Play the Correct Tee

December 21st, 2010 by John Graham Leave a reply »

Junior Golf Tee MarkersJunior Golf is one of those things that I love to think about. How can I improve on it? How can I learn more about it? What fields do I need to research?  Who should I talk with to learn more?  As 2011 quickly approaches, like many of you, I look back on 2010 and look ahead to 2011.

I recently have been in contact with Neil Plimmer. Neil is a Coach from England and has a passion for junior golf that I have never seen the likes of before. I used to think that I had a passion for working with juniors. I can tell you this. The juniors that have access to Mr Plimmer will have an experience like no other when learning the game of golf.

About a week or so ago, Neil sent me a chart for how to correctly set-up a golf course for a junior golfer depending on the length of the Driver strike. I thought I would share it with all of you because it is just brilliant.(click on the image to view larger)

Junior Golf Tee Assignments

1)  I think it is so important that juniors get an appreciation for par right away.  The lengths presented by Neil are designed to allow for pars just like for the adults.  It helps show juniors at a young age that this is a game of score and that score is based around achievable distances to holes.

2)  It helps with the understanding that golf should be played at a particular pace.  When juniors are playing the correct tee, they should be able to play the course in the same amount of time or less than the adults.  It’s amazing how more supportive the members and paying public are of junior golf when they play at a reasonable pace.

3)  It also get’s them used to birdies and the mental preparation of playing golf while under par.  How many of us get to 3 or 4 under in a round and just freeze up as we try to get it in the house.  The more I can get juniors to be comfortable with the self imposed mental pressure that score puts on them, the better they’ll be able to handle it later on.  Also, when was the last time you saw a 10 year old at 4 under say let me just get in. No way. They are going for 6 under. That’s the behavior I want to encourage.

4)  Lastly, I think the correct tee shows junior golfers that the majority of shots in golf are short shots.  If they are using the correct tee length, they will hit many short game shots and putts. I think this is critical. Nothing bothers me more than watching a good junior hit 5 long shots to get to the hole then hit fewer chips and putts than it took to get there. That is not how golf should be learned in my opinion. Junior’s are smart. They will quickly see the benefit of practicing their short game and putting when playing the correct tee.  I think this understanding is the most important reason why junior’s should play the correct tee length. It is also the reason why I recommend that they play the same tee until they can shoot under par from it regularly.  Then I know, they have skills in all the area’s and then we add length to see where the weaknesses are.

The big question for me is, when should the junior change tee lengths? Should the junior change based on distance hit or skill level presented at tee he is playing? Once again, I think it should be skill level. For years, I’ve told my juniors that they should play the most forward tee until they are able to shoot under par for that tee.  Hopefully, the course has been thoughtful enough to place additional tee markers in the fairway for the junior players.  Many times, the kids will resist because they want to play the ‘real’ hole like mom or dad.  Surely, I think this is ok at times but for the majority of time, I strongly encourage them to play the correct tee for their length and skill level.

I don’t have enough data or history with my juniors to support my assumption but I think that shooting under par as an early junior will contribute to comfort needed to do it as an advanced junior, college player and beyond.  It will show them the importance of the short game and generate support in their growth by learning to play quickly.  I will keep you posted as the data comes in and remember to have your juniors play from the correct length.  Thanks again to Neil Plimmer for all his help and please leave your thoughts about when juniors should switch tees.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with your friends by forwarding it to them or clicking on one the social media buttons at the top or bottom of the post. Thanks for reading.

JG

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16 comments

  1. Jay Reid says:

    John,

    Great post and I agree completly with it. Playing a shorter tee does work and teaching the kids to go low also works. I have been fortunate to work with a number of juniors through the years and a couple of them have gone on to play for Div 1 schools. One of these kids started with me when they were 8. Told me how good they were and that they could shot par from the junior tees. He was able to drive the green from that distance so I challenged him to go shoot 29. By giving him permission to go lower and confidence that he could he reported back a few weeks later that he had shot 29.

    He moved back in length as his skill allowed and has a great shortgame because of this. he can also drive the ball college distance of 290 plus.

    I have always told my parents to have the kids play from 10 times their age on the par 4 and 15 times the age on the par 5. This has worked for me.

    Thanks for another great post.

  2. John Graham says:

    Jay,

    Thanks for the comment. I’m so happy to hear that great story. I’ve never thought of that as a goal to give someone but I will now.

    Perfect.

    JG

  3. Jeffery Passage says:

    JG, really good post. I think adult tee boxes should be set up the same way. Maybe more short-drive men (like me) should play from the women’s tees, or quite calling them women’s tees. Shouldn’t we all experience the fun of shooting par or below? YES!!!

  4. John Graham says:

    Jeff,

    I think you bring up a great point. The majority of golfers would truly enjoy the game more if they played from a tee marker that matched the distance relative to there longest shot. Any par 3, 4, or 5 that a player can’t reach in ‘regulation’ is a hole that should be played from a different length. I don’t necessarily suggest that player’s all play from one color of tees. Use your driving distance as a means to determine what tee you should play from each hole. Sometimes it may be the forward tee and sometimes it may be the back tee. It doesn’t really matter.

    Once you play a course from the appropriate length, you will really see what weaknesses there are. If you can shoot around par from that tee, to me, that is equivalent to someone shooting par from the farther tee based on there length.

    JG

  5. Rob McGill says:

    Very nice write up. I am in total agreement. I have always stressed to my Juniors that they should play from a yardage proportionate to their ability. I have a huge problem with our area’s scholastic middle school golf program. They have kids of decent abilities playing from distances that they are not able to utilize their skills they are developing. Thanks for the information.
    Rob

  6. Yancy says:

    With 2 female sprogs (kids 7 & 9) in the house, I’ve been working with both my girls since they were 4. The first goal was finding the right clubs. US Kids golf are the best I’ve found and I’ve not scene better for clubs. They even offer Tournement clubs for kids that live for golf! You pick your clubs on your kids height and gender so you can get the right club and colour at the right time for your child (note: I think their putter size are two ages too big).
    They also have a similar system to Neil Plimmer in respect to distances and have a golf course locator to find a “family friendly” golf course near you (US only) that have the appropriate tees.
    As for my experience in UK, everyone seems to think PAR 3′s are the way forward with kids. Sometimes this is a disadvantage as few holes are beyond 100yds. So the kids don’t understand the relationship of Driver/Wood to their irons. My 9 year old gets away with a 6 iron on almost everyhole. I made a deal with both of them that I will take them out on the “big course” once they can hit a 100yds. I’ve done this with my oldest and set her up at the same distances stated by Neil unless I have a hazard and then I put them right in front of the pond or ditch. They don’t even notice the hazard as they are so close and as they get better, they move further back. This has worked great and I look forward to my 9 year old golfing with me through out next summer if she can wake up that early.
    I wish more people would take junior golf seriously as it is like other sports. In the UK, you can get lottery funding for your club if you involve juniors. Plus I saw how much money was generated for Junior clubs in soccer. Plus, juniors ended up being the key to a clubs success because of the parents involvement where as the adult clubs lacked commitement from their players and volunteers. Add the juniors and problem solved.

  7. Motleygolf says:

    Great post JG

    as normal talking great sense. Not sure how many clubs really think about different ways to develop juniors, too often they stick to what they have always done, which we all know is not always the best way.

    Tom

  8. Jeffery Passage says:

    Follow up to Yancy and Tom, juniors are our future. And I hear that not enough juniors are being developed to replace all the golfers who have quit or passed on. I often play a par 3 course for short game development and to save money. All you guys, please keep doing what you’re doing to train junior golfers. Let the rest of us know how we can support you. Jeff P.

  9. John ~ This is such a totally awesome post!! Just shared it on fb and twitter and will post a link on my blog too! You have made a fantastic and extraordinarily important point. I would venture to say it’s the same for grown ups too!

    Cheers Kirsten

  10. David Colly says:

    John, like your thoughts and the stuff from Neil too. I definitely think there is a crossover into the adult game as many players appear to leave the game because they find it too difficult. Surely one of the reasons it’s too difficult is they don’t hit far enough early on when playing a long course and so the game appears to be a slog. A ‘slope’ system like they have in Skiing would help im sure and i think length would be part of the equation in defining different courses for adults with different abilities.
    Think I feel a blog post coming on!

    Have a great Xmas!

  11. I agree with Kirsten – definitely applies to grown-ups too. When I left my home course in South Africa and played Richmond Park in London while on holiday in August, I found i was making so many more pars and greens in regulation due to the shorter course. Often I had only a wedge in, which rarely happens at my home club. As you say, this builds confidence and can make you a par golfer before going to the next level.

  12. John Graham says:

    Richard,

    I think it takes a bit of ego control for some to play the shorter tees but if the only reason you do it is because of the length you hit a tee ball, your true golf game can come out.

    Thanks for the comment.

    JG

  13. John I have just run a junior comp today under this format. The results were fantastic with an 8 year old kid winning with +2 for 9 holes. It really demonstrates to the kids how important short game and putting is. We will now be running these competitions regularly.

  14. John Graham says:

    Stewart,

    Thanks for leaving this comment.

    I think it is great that you thought was good enough to use and that it worked as I would have hoped.

    You just made my day.

    Keep up the great work.

    JG

  15. Matt Walsh says:

    Thanks for the post. My 6 year old has suddenly become addicted to golf.

    Playing off regular tees does have a feeling of no real goal in sight. 6 shot to reach the green on a par 5 and a tendency of me to just get him to hurry shots so we don’t fall behind.

    Going try this different approach from now on.

  16. John Graham says:

    Matt,

    Please keep me posted on how it goes.

    Thanks for reading.

    JG

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