Posts Tagged ‘junior golf’

Junior Golf – Practice Your Weakness, Maintain Your Strengths

January 8th, 2011

Junior Golf - Weak LinkWhen I think of Junior Golf, I think of the future. What things can I do to ensure that they learn to love the game and play it for a lifetime?  Surely, if they are interested in competing, I am happy to help them down that road as well.  I think we can all agree that one of the boundaries to the game is its difficulty.  There are many things being written about making golf fun and helping juniors build golf skills but this post will be for the slightly older junior that has made a choice to spend extra time on this sport.

As always, this is just my opinion and part of my observation as a coach of juniors and as a coach of a 3 time NJCAA National Championship squad.  I think as golfers, we can agree that the individuals playing the game will tend to notice things they are good at and things that need more work.  How many times as a coach have you had a junior student come to you and say, “I really need help with my (“X”) but not on (“Y”) cause I do that pretty well.  Sometimes they have made a correct assessment and sometimes they haven’t.  Part of our job as the coach is to help them determine what skills are appropriate for that particular scoring level or the scoring level they are striving for.  This is one place that I think Shot by Shot can really help.  Shot by Shot is an analysis program that will help the junior golfer and the coach direct the practice.

Many times, I will watch junior golfers practice and they will be practicing the one thing they do really well. It could be anything from their short game to the their driving.  While this makes for great fun while practicing, how much is it improving their skill set.  Golf is a game which requires skills that need to be called upon one at a time from a vast array of possibilities.  This requires the student to be proficient in many things so they can call upon them when needed.  Some skills are used much more often than others but the lesser used skills need to be practiced as well.

I constantly remind my junior golfers to practice their weaknesses and maintain their strengths.  I think the meaning of this statement is quite clear.  I hear them say too often that, “I practiced my putting so much that my I lost my wedge play.”  I think it’s important for them to know that they can’t ignore the skills they do well.  I recommend that they use a rotating practice schedule that has a majority of the time focused on those skills that need a little work but never ignores the skills they are doing well.  Don’t forget to cover all the bases from the fitness levels to the mental game.

Is this schedule organic? You bet it is. We are constantly upgrading it to reflect current conditions and measuring those skills to help define the plan.  Can it be done without a measuring program? Of course it can but I think my junior golfers like to see the charts and graphs that Shot by Shot provides.  Plus it gives me a chance to see if what I am seeing as a weakness is actually hurting their game.  Many times I have had a belief of a weakness that, for what ever reason, didn’t seem to appear during their practice or competitive rounds.  As coaches, we need to be aware that the practice ground and the field of play are very different animals and need to be treated as such.

I encourage you to chat with your junior golfers about their game as often as you can.  Provide them a schedule to follow that touches on all parts of their game but focuses on the skills that need the most time.

Imagine the chain in the above picture as your players set of skills.  If you put the pressure of a tournament round on that chain, I think we can all agree where the chain might break.

The goal is to create a chain of skills of equal strength.

Please pass this on to your junior golfer via Facebook by clicking on the share button or email if you think they find some value in this post.

Thanks for reading.

Junior Golf – Passion is Key

December 26th, 2010

Junior Golf - Passion

Passion. A word that has so many different definitions. Dictionary.com uses this definition below as there first.:

–noun

1. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.

You can see the definition by Jack Nicklaus in the picture above.  While I agree with this statement, I don’t know if everyone would be able to relate to it.  The ability to do the things that you enjoy as a means of providing a livelihood for your family is a rare one indeed.

Passion for me is the thing or things that you can’t stop thinking or talking about. How many girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s have been upset because all we talk about is golf, what happened at the range today, what happened on the course or how the lesson went. I used to tell my players that I can guarantee you somewhere there is someone getting up at 5am to go practice or workout or something to improve their golf.  If you aren’t, you’ll most likely get passed by.  Now, this doesn’t mean that if you do get up at 5am and work on your game that you will be a successful professional.  There is more to golf as a job than just hard work and ‘passion’.

Think back to the times when you have had passion or seen true passion.  It is quite obvious when it’s there.  Use this to help determine those that have it and those who don’t.  Like anyone that gets hooked on golf, I remember vividly the time when I couldn’t wait to get up and get to the golf course. The thought of hitting that ball as solid and as true as could be was a powerful draw for me. No question about it. I was a range rat. I just loved it.  Still do.  I know as a coach of a college team, having players that loved the game was very important.  There was no amount of practice I could give them that would stop them from doing more practice on their own.  These are the types of players you want on your team.  Teach them how to practice and you are on your way.  We would spend entire weekend playing, practicing and talking about golf. Very special indeed.

So, is their a way to develop passion in our junior golfers? We’ve probably all heard that golf is in a state of decline or very nearly even.  More people are leaving the game than are entering it. Why?  I’m sure we can come up with any number of reasons; time, cost, or competition from other sports just to name a few.  As teachers, what should we be doing with junior golf to start growing the number of kids that have a passion for the game.  First we have to answer this question. For juniors, does passion come after a junior becomes good at something or is passion the piece that produces a junior that is good at something?  Personally, I think it is the latter.

I think coaches can play an integral role in developing passion.  Make learning the game fun. Make it exciting. Make it memorable.  These are the things that a successful junior golf program must have.  This is the training ground for developing passion. As coaches, we need to display passion in our approach. If you put developing passion in the skill set you are trying to develop, I bet you might do things a little differently.  I know I have been guilty of not displaying passion in a way that makes it contagious. You know what I mean.  You’ve been around people that have the ability to draw you in fully into what they are doing.  It is this kind of passion that we want to display to our juniors. It is this passion we as coaches should be trying to produce in our junior golfers.

Play golf with your juniors. Practice golf with them. Create a team atmosphere. Maybe you can create a special logo or sticker they can put on the bottom of their bag to pull them into your passion so you can share it with them.  People want to be a part of something special. I think this is especially true for juniors. Use your ability to create the passion and let the passion create the golfers of tomorrow.

As always, please consider sharing this post by clicking on one of the social media buttons and pass it on to your friends.

I will continue to share my passion with all of you and hope you will share your passion with others as well.

Junior Golf – 4 Reasons Junior Should Play the Correct Tee

December 21st, 2010

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

Advanced Junior Golf Program

October 5th, 2009
As I look at my job and the things I enjoy doing the most, working with juniors is right near the top. I have been doing some research into junior golf programs and I feel like the one given by Henry Brunton is the best. It is year long program that covers all aspects of our sport. Now I don’t have the opportunity to put a plan like that together with my 4 kids and a college golf team but I’m in the process of creating an Advanced Junior Golf Program.

I picture this program as a summer long program for serious juniors that want to play tournament golf or already compete. It will include lessons, supervised practice, trackman time, on course time, stat analysis and a physical finess component. I will be asking the parents of some juniors I teach that currently fit the profile and see what they would be looking for.

Please add your comments if you are interested and/or have ideas.