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Need a caddie? There’s an app for that

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In his 2014 piece, “Where have all the caddies gone?” Mike Belkin wrote, “As I breezed through a quick round this past Saturday morning at Putterham Meadow, a muni just outside of Boston, the thought occurred to me that I might actually want a caddy. And I’m not talking about a lifer, but a local middle or high-school-kid…”

Well, Mike, now you can. Thanks to the new Uber-like app, Looper, golfers can get linked up with an on-demand caddie in general, and a “local middle or high-school kid” (Jr-Looper) in particular.

In line with Mike’s perspective, Dave Cavossa, co-founder of Looper, spelled out the caddie situation in his area.

“If I want to take a caddie today—I live in northern Virginia—I’ve got two options: I can join Trump National and spend $100,000 joining, or I can join RTJ and spend $100,000. I don’t have another option. Those are it. And every time I want a caddie, it’s $150, plus experience. What Grant and I have done is take that down to no membership, or low membership…and the entry price point is $30.”

To learn more about how Looper works, and how the app has fared in its six months since launch, I spoke with Dave and his co-founders Grant Creighton.

looper screen shot

How did Looper get started, and what’s the idea behind the app?

Grant: I was a professional golfer…I caddied to supplement my income for six years…I was getting out of professional golf and put together the idea that a mobile app like Uber could manage scheduling and payment for caddies and communication between caddie masters and caddies. About a year ago, I met Dave at the PGA Show who was also of the same mindset. We were both…working on this concept, so we decided to put our minds together…and we’ve been collaborating ever since. Our main objective is build a network where golfers can find caddies and caddies can find work and grow the caddie trade and grow the game of golf by including junior loopers.

Dave: We launched Looper in the mid-Atlantic back in April. We have 22 courses in the market and over 500 caddies.

Great. Tell me more about how it works.

Dave: Well, we want to bring caddies back to the game of golf. We know that the way to bring caddies back to the 95 percent of courses that don’t have caddie programs is to make it free for them. We actually pay the golf course…golf courses can’t believe when we say, “Not only do you not pay a dime, but we pay you.”…We give them a small revenue share of every loop done at their course. We want to give every golfer at every course the option of taking a caddie again. The key word there is option. When you’re at a typical golf course, you can walk, you can take a cart, or you can take a pull cart.

How do you assemble a roster of caddies in a new area? 

Dave: You go out to recruit hundreds and hundreds caddies…mostly teenagers…some college…some part-time…some retirees…you let them caddie at multiple courses in a region on their schedules when they want to…in addition to the fees that caddies are getting, they’re also getting to play free golf at these courses…about 70 percent of our caddies are teens…30 percent are part-time workers…Now we’re starting our national expansion…we got funded this year. We launch in San Diego over the next three months…We’re partnered with the First Tee of West Palm Beach, and we’re launching there in November. And we’re trying to launch in the Detroit and Philadelphia areas in April, and then we’re expanding further on the east coast as well.

I understand that you’re targeting private courses without caddie programs, high-end daily fee courses, and more low-end daily fee tracks. Tell me about some of the headwinds you’re meeting in that pursuit.

Dave: The biggest problem that Grant and I have every day…is the behavior change, and the perception change. When people hear “caddies,” they think “expensive” or they think, “I’m not good enough to take a caddie.”

And if a course says, “My customers don’t want caddies, they want to take a golf cart.” We push back…with, “Have you ever offered them caddies?” It took 60 years [to get to this point]. When golf carts were first introduced in the ’50s and ’60s, people didn’t like them at all.

We don’t think that we’re going to change the world in a day, but we do think with our three-year plan we’re going to change behavior and change perceptions. People want to get out and walk. They want the 10 to 15 thousand steps. They want to burn 2,000 calories.

There’s a portion of the golf community…we call them “would walkers.” Ten to 20 percent of the golf community. Somebody who would happily walk, but they don’t want to carry their bag [or take a pull cart]. But if you give them the option of an inexpensive caddie—our entry price point is $29, slightly more expensive than a golf cart—they’re going to try it. And they’ll say, “Let’s bring caddies back. Let’s grow the game. Let’s get teens caddying again.” It’ll introduce the game to kids who wouldn’t have had a chance to play otherwise…couldn’t afford it.

Looper Logo

The Looper icon in Google Play and App Store.

Regarding what the company offers consumers, Dave indicated that Looper delivers value to caddies, golfers, and courses.

  • Caddies: No longer do they have to sit on a bench at 6 a.m. and wait around for three hours and maybe get out. Who they’re working for. Where they’re working. When they’re working. Paid in direct deposit the day of. Tipped in cash. Free golf.  
  • Golfers/Customers: If I’m at a course that doesn’t have a caddie program, I can take a caddie. Same caddie again and again.  
  • Courses: Free. No program to set up. No caddie check. No recruiting, training, certifying, scheduling. No liability, insurance issues.

To learn more about how the app works for golfers and caddies, check out the aptly titled “How it works” page on Looper’s website.

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  1. TeeUpOne

    Oct 30, 2016 at 2:19 am

    I’m extremely excited to have come across the article and can’t wait to actually be able to use the service. Looper just added our course a few weeks ago. The thought that I will be able to book a caddie at my club or one of the premier clubs that I often play rather than ride and actually enjoy the round is spectacular. For me, the best experiences have always been with a caddie on my bag or caddying for my grandfather over 30years ago when I was learning the game myself and caddies were still a big part of the game. I’m also very impressed with someone taking a great idea and making it even better by including the youths of today instead of just going after experienced caddies. Not only does it make it more affordable for those not looking for a Pro type Caddy but just someone to carry the bag, rake a bunker here and there, clean the clubs and tend the flag. For the youths (h.s schoolers/ students and recent grads) and young professionals that do take part, well they are learning possibly a new sport, staying a part of one, making new contacts and will just have a overall learning experience that they sure can’t get from sitting in front of a game system. Earning money by working hard and best of all…free golf or at least when I caddied back in the day we got to play. I probably play 20-30 rounds a year with clients and to now be able to take them out with a caddie to not always be stopping and starting in a cart but to really enjoy the course, our surroundings and have one another’s attention is priceless. Is it for everyone…..absolutely not but for everyone to have the option is fantastic in my opinion. Well done Looper and again I look forward to using your service soon. ????????

  2. Ms

    Oct 27, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Whoa whoa whoa. There is a MASSIVE difference between a real Caddy, and just a looper who carries the bag and not do any of the reads or advises on shots – the looper just needs to wash the clubs and fix divots and keep his mouth shut the other times. So instead of a walker having to push or pull cart or carry his own bag (oh the horror! haha), or rent an expensive cart, he can just have some kid carry his bag for him so he can have a nice walk on the course. Nothing wrong wit that

  3. TheCityGame

    Oct 27, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Problems with this. . .

    1) This $29 seems like a real come-on. The website itself says for a junior looper, it’s $40 plus tip, so what. . .you’re talking $60?

    2) Even if it WERE $29, now you’re asking me to play this $90 course with a $30 bag carrier or I can go play a $120 course that might be a better course.

    I guess looper did their market research, but it seems like most people don’t care about caddies. For one, I’ve had more negative experiences with caddies in my life than positive ones. And two, the positive ones weren’t really positive at all. Show me a weekend golfer that really benefits from a caddy’s read, or needs a good line off the tee on a course in his regular rotation.

    If you’re into caddies, you probably already belong to a course that has them. I just don’t get it.

    In a related issue, most courses just don’t treat walkers fairly. There’s no reason that a walkable course shouldn’t have $X for walking, $X+$Y for cart, and then give me the option of $X+$Z for a caddy.

    • dave

      Oct 27, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Oops, forgot to update the website with our new pricing for 2017! http://www.looper.golf/caddies/

      • SemiPro

        Oct 27, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        No one cares bro
        You guys are in a garbage market

        • Noonan

          Oct 27, 2016 at 11:47 pm

          You do realize the Washington, DC metro area is a Top 10 golf market in the U.S. as measured by total number of golfers…

    • Dave

      Oct 27, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      I think its a little…crazy…that their $29 rate is for 14-18 year old juniors. There are at least 8-10 courses on that list that would be an absolutely brutal haul for an adult let alone a 14 year old kid. They might have done their market research on the program itself but I really question their choice of courses and wonder how much research they did in that regard.

      • KK

        Oct 27, 2016 at 10:40 pm

        14-18 year olds have a ton of energy. They’ll survive.

        • Dave

          Oct 28, 2016 at 6:43 am

          Just curious, have you actually seen or played some of these courses? Augustine, Raspberry and Old Hickory are completely unwalkable. Old Hickory has several 1/4 + mile transitions between holes – how are they going to handle that? You could easily see a group getting way, way out of position after just a few holes.

  4. SemiPro

    Oct 27, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    These “looper” guys are a flop, check out this up and coming company from Texas. loopgolf.com

    • EAZ

      Oct 27, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      LOL! This “up and coming” “company” isn’t even up and RUNNING.

      • SemiPro

        Oct 27, 2016 at 10:59 pm

        That’s why it’s up and coming not already here genius

        • EAZ

          Oct 27, 2016 at 11:27 pm

          Generally speaking, an up and coming company has more than just a website…e.g. a working product or at least a beta. Otherwise it’s just an idea. Regardless, best of luck to them getting off the ground.

  5. Dave

    Oct 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    One problem with this whole system is that you are hiring teenagers and part timers who – chances are – will barely be familiar with each course if they are caddying at 6-8 courses. The nice thing about a caddy program at an established course is that they have worked there for years and are familiar with the layout and the greens. If you want to just pay a kid to schlep your bag I guess thats fine though.

    But the bigger issue in the DMV is that a lot of these courses simply werent built for walking. Caddying at Worthington Manor sounds…insane to be honest. Same for Bull Run and Raspberry and Old Hickory. Theses courses all have *several* green>tee transitions that just dont make sense to walk.

    I applaud the effort but I think its really more applicable to the older private clubs in the area that might be much more compact and conducive to walking.

    • Jack

      Oct 27, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      @Dave, I think you’re taking the idea way too seriously. The benefit of Looper and another caddie app, ClubUp, isn’t to get a senior-level, experienced caddie to give you advice and read the greens. It’s to have someone there to carry your bag so you can walk without pushing a cart or carrying. Other benefits are things like giving a First Tee kid an opportunity to be around the game and earn some cash, give others opportunities to make money on their own schedules and provide an alternative service for those who want to get some exercise instead of cruising around in a golf car.

      As an aside, I have played all of the Northern VA courses you mentioned. If you’re not carrying a golf bag, can you not handle walking up a few hills?

      • Dave

        Oct 28, 2016 at 9:07 am

        The point isnt walking – thats fine. The point is that several of those courses simply werent *built* for walking. The distance between the 1st green and 2nd tee at Old Hickory is over 1/4 mile. 3rd to 4th tee is the same coming back. 4th to 5th tee – long walk, close to 1/4 mile. 8th to 9th tee – about the same. 9th green to 10th tee – over 1/4 mile. At a course that packs 9 minute tee times you could be two holes behind after the front nine – just from walking.

        Its not “you should walk instead of ride” – I agree, I walk all the time. Its that a lot of these courses from a *layout* perspective are not built for walking. Thats why I said they should probably concentrate on some of the older private courses in the area that are much, much easier to walk.

        • Chubbs

          Oct 28, 2016 at 12:30 pm

          Of course there are going to be courses where the layouts are more or less conducive to walking. The courses that are tough to walk will probably see less use. That’s just reality. But, I think the point is to give golfers the OPTION of taking the caddie. Or maybe the golfer wants the challenge and more steps.

          In terms of Worthington Manor, they hold U.S. Open qualifiers there…do those guys get to ride? Don’t think so. What about when the USGA held the Public Links (RIP) Championship at Laurel Hill a few years ago…yep, they walked too. Bet they all wished they had caddies to do nothing more than carry their bags.

          As for pace of play, there are many more factors (as researched by USGA and others) than just walking vs. riding. Green speeds, quality of golfer, playing ready golf, the time of day, and length of the course just to name a few.

        • dave

          Oct 31, 2016 at 9:39 am

          All good points. At LOOPER we focus on Forecaddies for “hard to walk” courses. That way everyone wins. Side note, we walked Raspberry and Worthington and 4:15min. 17,000 steps, 40 flights of stairs, about 8miles. I slept well those nights!

  6. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 27, 2016 at 10:43 am

    The Uber of caddies. This is great. When I take a caddy I love the fact that I get to wander about, no encumbrances, while my buddies are slaving over their shots. It becomes a stroll in the park. As an aside, if you ever play Pebble Beach DO NOT take a power cart. All the cart paths are on opposite side of the fairways from the cliffs. To make sure of the best vistas, while walking, hit that power fade down the right side of most holes. Take a cart and you might as well have played your local muni.

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Redkacheek’s DFS Rundown: 2018 CJ Cup

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Wow, what a crazy start to this season! Not only has the cheat sheet and slack chat plays over at the Fantasy Golf Bag been on complete fire, but the new golf betting model has now hit on two outrights and one FRL in back-to-back weeks! We get a much better field this week so definitely plan to keep this heater going here at the CJ Cup this week. Brooks Koepka will be teeing it up for the first time since being named the 2018 POY, along with guys such as Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Billy Horschel, and our new favorite Sungjae Im. As you can see, this will be a fairly exciting event for a setup as similar as last week’s tournament.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at this course and see if we can pinpoint some key stats to take us to another Big GPP win or at least a couple good choices for an outright win.

The CJ Cup will be played at the Club at Nine Bridges, a 7,196 yard par-72 golf course in South Korea. Although this may appear like a similar course to TPC Kuala Lumpur last week, this one will play quite significantly tougher. As you can see below, in 2017 there were more bogeys than birdies for the week which doesn’t happen much outside of majors. Justin Thomas won last year’s event after shooting 63 in the first round but failed to break 70 the following three days. JT finished at nine under, which tied Marc Leishman, who coincidentally won this last weekend (2019 Fall Swing narrative). So why so tough if it appears so short? Let’s take a look.

So first off, let’s get this out of the way first. These greens are brutal. No joke; these greens were the single most difficult greens to putt on all of last year. Everything from one-putt percentage to 3-putt avoidance, these ranked the No. 1 most difficult on Tour all year. But here’s the problem: We all know putting is the single most variable stat, so using SG:P will tend to lead to a very disappointing pool of players. For example, coming into last year the players ranked Top 10 in SG:P finished 11-33-47-40-28-64-36-26-71-36, respectively. There is a still a stat that helped fine-tune player pools last year that I will recommend this year: my first key stat to consider this week is 3-putt avoidance.

The next section here I will just briefly touch on the driving accuracy and GIR percentage for this course. It is very average for the PGA Tour…that is really all you need to know. Driving accuracy ranked 48th and GIR percentage ranked 38th in 2017. This course is not difficult tee-to-green, plain and simple. I will certainly add the usual SG:T2G this week along with GIR percentage, but this course will favor most guys this week.

So besides putting, why are these scores so poor considering the appearance of an easy course? Well besides putting on these greens, scrambling here is brutal. Scrambling also ranked No. 1 most difficult here last year but again, this is a stat that is extremely tough to see useful trends. I will, however, encourage you to use SG:ARG to help narrow down your player pool more efficiently.

Remember that this segment of the Fall Swing will not yield strokes-gained data, so we must only utilize the traditional stats the PGA Tour keeps. On top of all the micro-scoring stats mentioned above, let’s take a closer look at this course from a macro level. This will be fairly straightforward when building your model. The par 4s here are extremely difficult, so add SG:P4 Scoring to your research (par 3 scoring is also very difficult but sample sizes are usually too small to include each week). Par 5 scoring was difficult as well but there is a better stat we can use than the P4 scoring mentioned above. The final stat we will be using is simply bogey avoidance. This will do a fantastic job of incorporating T2G, scrambling and putting into our model/research.

Overall this course is really an amazing layout but will pose a difficult task for the players. Just like last week, I encourage you to ease into the season by playing light and also primarily playing GPPs.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into my core plays for this week…

Justin Thomas (DK $11,600)

Justin Thomas finally makes the core writeup. After a mediocre finish last week (5th place), he comes to Nine Bridges as the defending champion. Ironically, he beat out Marc Leishman, last week’s winner, in a playoff last year and I think he is going to be the guy to pay up for over $10k. JT won both CIMB Classic and The CJ Cup last year, and I would be very surprised if he doesn’t leave this leg of the Fall Swing (Asia) without a win. There’s a lot going for him outside of his recent form and course history (if that wasn’t enough), he ranks first in both SG:T2G and SG:APP, second in par 4 scoring, eighth in bogey avoidance and finally, surprisingly, 11th in 3-putt avoidance. If you are building only a few lineups this week, I think JT should be in around two-thirds of them.

Byeong-Hun An (DK $8,700)

Mr. Ben An makes the list again! Byeong-Hun An received a lot of praise from both Jacob and myself on the FGB Podcast last week and he did not disappoint with a 13th place finish, and really a strong chance to win going into the weekend. As part of a common theme you will see here, Ben An is the kind of consistent ball-striker to rely on each and every week. On the PGA Tour in the last 50 rounds, he ranks third along with a strong ranking in bogey avoidance (third) and GIR percentage (also third). He did play this event last year, finishing 11th at 4-under par, and if it weren’t for a final round 73 he had a realistic chance for the win! The price on Ben An is getting a little steep but I think we can still get some value out of it this week.

Kyle Stanley (DK $8,200)

Kyle Stanley should be considered a core play almost every week he is under $9K on DraftKings. One of the most elite ball strikers on Tour, ranking ninth in SG:T2G, 11th in SG:APP, sixth in GIR percentage and 14th in par 4 scoring, he sets up for another solid top 20. Last week Kyle finished 13th in Kuala Lumpur and now comes to Nine Bridges where he ended the tournament in 19th place last year. Kyle tends to be very “mediocre” so upside for a top 3 always seems to come sparingly during the season, but you still cannot ignore his skills at this price.

Charles Howell III (DK $7,700)

Charles Howell III is a lock for me this week. Coming off a strong showing last week (T5) but also an 11th-place finish at this event last year, he grades out as one of the strongest values this week at only $7,700. CH3 hadn’t played on the PGA Tour for over a month before appearing at Kuala Lumpur, causing him to fly well under the radar on his way to a solid top five finish. Always known as a superb ball-striker, Howell actually rates out 16th in bogey avoidance and 10th in 3-putt avoidance, both key stats for this golf course. Additionally, CH3 ranks inside the top 20 of both par 4 scoring and GIR percentage. In a no-cut event on a difficult ARG golf course, count on CH3 to gain enough placement points to pay off this solid price tag.

Ian Poulter (DK $7,600)

Ian Poulter may be extremely sneaky this week. We haven’t seen him since the Ryder Cup and most people that play DFS have severe recency bias. Poulter is a grinder, and considering the winning score should only be around 12-under par with lots of opportunities for bogeys, he should keep the wheels on all four days and have a chance on Sunday. One of the most surprising stats for me in my research on Poulter is that he ranks first in 3-putt avoidance, along with some impressive tee-to-green stats where he ranks inside the top 25 of all of my key stats mentioned above. Why is the 3-putt avoidance stat so important? As I noted in the course preview, these were the single most difficult greens to putt on last year with the worst 3-putt percentage. Outside of the key stats, it does seem like this course fits his eye as he finished 15th here last year. Ian Poulter will be another core play but I think he may come in quite under owned from where he probably should.

Joel Dahmen (DK $6,900)

Chalk Dahmen week is upon us and I am going to bite. Dahmen has been a DFS darling this year and last week was no different. Dahmen ended up finishing 26th which was largely due to a poor final round 71, which dropped him 11 spots. Even with that poor finish he was able to pay off his sub-$7K price tag, which is where we find him again this week. Dahmen ranks top 10 in this field in several key stats, including: SG:T2G, SG:APP, and bogey avoidance. If you need some salary savings but unsure about anyone under $7K, Dahmen should be your first look this week.

Also consider

Brooks Koepka
Jason Day
Marc Leishman
Paul Casey
Ryan Moore
Sungjae Im
Kevin Tway

Good luck this week everyone!

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Mondays Off: Bermuda vs. Bent grass, How to chip when into the grain

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How do you chip into the grain off of Bermuda grass without chunking the ball? Club pro Steve Westphal explains how to best handle the situation. Also, Westphal and Editor Andrew Tursky give advice on how to play in qualifiers or PAT (players assessment test) events, and they tell a few stories of their own.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Women’s college golfers (and juniors) are getting significantly better, here are the stats

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Here’s the deal: If you are talking about women’s golf these days, especially at the elite level, you are talking about superstars! These girls are crazy good, and I wanted to take an opportunity to highlight some of the data to help better inform everyone.

Let’s start with a couple key highlights from the first couple of weeks of the 2018-19 season

  • Sierra Brooks fires 65-62 (-17) at College of Charleston
  • Patty Tavatanakit from UCLA shoots 63, including 7 straight birdies
  • Alabama shoots NCAA record -45 at Belmar Golf Club
  • Atthaya Thitikul from Thailand shoots 60 in the final round of the World Junior Golf Championship to finish at 268 (-20)
  • Lucy Li shot 62 in the first round of the U.S. Junior Girls at Poppy Hills
  • Newly D1, California Baptist shoots -6 in the final round at University of South Alabama to finish -4 for the tournament

In 2018, Missouri women’s golf was likely the last team into the regional championship. To earn this right the team needed to average 295; scoring a decade earlier which would have likely made them a contender for being among the elite 10-15 teams in D1 golf! The fact is, in a little over a decade, the game has changed not a little, but a lot. Players from the past would have no chance to compete with today’s teams.

Why? Girls are simply stronger, better coached and more focused on golf. According to Joey Wuertemburger, a teaching professional with 100-plus college players

“The bar is getting raised every day, I’m seeing the next generation of women getting more athletic, which helps with the speed component but also with the ability to make changes quicker in their individual coaching programs.”

One example of the power of women’s golf is Emily Tubert. Emily, a former USGA champion, college golf standout at Arkansas and LPGA player recently hit it 322 yards in a nationally televised event. Emily is not even a complete outlier, look at club head speed data with driver collected by Trackman from the 2018-19 rosters at University of Arkansas

  • Player A: 108 mph
  • Player B: 106 mph
  • Player C: 101 mph
  • Player D: 97 mph
  • Player E: 96 mph
  • Player F: 93 mph
  • Player G: 90 mph

Arkansas is not an outlier either. Troy women’s coach Randy Keck notes two players on his team with club head speeds of 103-ish with the driver and a team average in the upper 90s. This means that players are hitting the ball on average at least 225 in the air. When playing courses of 6,200 yards, this gives them lots of opportunities to have short irons and attack short par 5s.

At the end of last year, according to GolfStat, four women’s teams (Alabama, UCLA, Arkansas, and Duke) had adjusted scoring averages under par, with the University of Alabama leading with 70.93. According to Mic Potter, head women’s coach at the University of Alabama, “Through eleven tournaments in 2017-18, our team was 111 under par. Thirty years ago, if a school averaged 300, or roughly 12 over per round, they were winning tournaments. In 2018 they are more likely to finish last. Student-Athletes are entering college more physically fit, with better technique, and more prepared to play at the highest level. This is reflected in their ability to score.”

The transformation of women’s golf can be seen throughout D1, as well as into other levels. One amazing example is the University of Indianapolis, the 2018 D2 women’s national champions and likely among the best D2 teams ever. According to Golfstat, for the 2017-18 season the adjusted score for the team was 73.45 which helped them win 11 times. Likewise, the women at Savannah College of Art had an amazing year in NAIA women’s golf with an adjusted scoring differential of 75.32.

At the junior level, players are equally impressive. Data collected suggests that the average girl going to play major conference golf has a scoring differential of about minus three for the past three years. This means that they shoot about three shots better than the course rating. That’s impressive until you consider that the best player in ranked in junior golf in the U.S., Lucy Li, has a scoring differential of minus 8.53. That’s almost two shots better than the player ranked second — darn impressive!

Women’s golf is on an excellent trajectory, which includes so much more depth, competition, and superior athletes who are driven to make their mark on the sport. Over the next five to seven years, it will be interesting to see these players develop in their quest to become the best players in the world — I cannot wait to see what happens!

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