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Winning Ways: What it takes to become a winner in Boys Junior Golf

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One of the greatest accomplishments for a junior golfer is winning! In this article, we set out to examine the data on winning and provide you with feedback on what it takes to join this elite group of golfers. It is based on an analysis of tournament results from all events during the 2017 year from the Junior Tour of Northern California. We then asked stats guru, Peter Sanders, Founder of ShotByShot.com, to provide the stats related to the winning scoring numbers that we found. Finally, we discuss ways you can practice helping build your skills and work towards becoming a tournament winner yourself.

The Winning Scores

In 2017, the Junior Tour of Northern California held 26 tournaments with 850+ members. According to our data collection based on information available on the website, the average boys field was played from 6,587 yards. On these courses, the average winning score for boys was 143.48. Eight of the 26 tournaments were won with scores in the 130’s, and the lowest two-day total was 132. In the data collection, we also collected the average 10th place scores for boys. The average 10th place score for boys was 153.6, or 76.8 per round.  

The Winning Stats

We provided the numbers to statistics expert Peter Sanders. Peter’s company has been providing Strokes Gained analysis for golfers for the last 29 years. Peter is the founder of ShotByShot.com, a website that provides golfers at all levels with Strokes Gained analysis, pinpoints specific strengths and weaknesses and highlights improvement priorities. Since the launch of ShotByShot.com in 2005, Peter has collected over 317,000 rounds. Accordingly, Peter has agreed to share the numbers, below, for a typical male player who averages 72. There are two important points to consider when reviewing these statistics:

  1. In order to have a complete picture of the puzzle that is golf, one must consider the ERRORS, or lack thereof, that play such an important role in scoring at every level. Even the 650+ PGA Tour stats ignore these important miscues. Shot By Shot has included them in their analysis from the beginning and they are highlighted below.
  2. The data provided represents only tournament rounds. As such, it will primarily represent the high school and college programs that use ShotByShot.com

Infographics Created by Alexis Bennett

How to Improve

Junior players are encouraged to use the stats above as a benchmark against their own performance to determine where they might need to improve against the “typical 72 player.” After identifying gaps in their game, they can then create practice plans to help improve.

For example, a junior might notice they have more errors off the tee then the model. To improve, they could work on having a “go-to” shot off the tee like a knockdown 3 wood or hybrid. They might also play games in practice where they either play worst ball off the tee, or treat the rough as out of bounds. Worst ball off the tee is when the player would hit two shots and then play from the worst one each time. When playing the rough out of play, the player must hit the fairway. If they don’t, they must treat the ball in the rough as out of bounds and re-tee. Both games will put significant pressure on their driving of the golf ball and teach the player skills necessary to reduce ERRORS.

Clearly the top players in junior golf are excellent; they can travel to a course they likely don’t know, play a practice round and then shot a 36-hole total near to par. Although exact data on what these players are doing at their home golf courses is not available, it is likely that these players are playing a lot of golf at their home golf courses with scores of par or better. My own experience with elite juniors suggest that the very best players shoot 65 or so at their home golf course often (5-10 percent), while scoring a lot of rounds between 68-73.  

The Takeaway

If you are not at this level yet, don’t worry! Shooting under par is a skill to be developed, just like chipping, middle irons or driving the golf ball. Hopefully this article will give you some insight on not only what you need to do to improve your score but also how to do it!

Happy Golfing!

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Bruno

    Feb 11, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Trophy looks like a {{{spittoon}}} 😮

  2. Ross

    Feb 10, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    I would love the answer to be Talent!

    But nowadays you probably need a lot of money, several coaches, psychologists and some severely pushy parents forcing you to train every single day of your life

    the sort of family where the sentence “if you’re not scratch by the time your 12 you’re out the family” is mentioned daily and probably inscribed on every birthday card

    • Lee

      Feb 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Your comment comes across as a very bitter individual that never achieved their dreams. In golf and most other sports many families have a very balanced life. The reason you hear of the outliers is because of how extreme they are.

      • Andrew

        Feb 11, 2018 at 12:08 pm

        You have obviously never been to the IMG Junior World, Lee. Ross is not saying that he is that way. Please read a little closer instead of being quick to lecture on your naive worldview.

  3. Marty

    Feb 10, 2018 at 11:27 am

    What does the President’s Cup have to do with junior golf!?

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