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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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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Boulder Creek Golf Club in Streetsboro, Ohio

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member JimGantz, who takes us to Boulder Creek Golf Club in Streetsboro, Ohio. Just 30 minutes from downtown Cleveland, Boulder Creek features over 100 feet of elevation changes, and when you look at the photos of the course, it’s easy to see why this track landed in our hidden gem thread. JimGantz gives us a concise description of the course, praising it for its nice blend of different hole types.

“Conditions are always top notch. Fluffy bunkers, thick-ish rough.  Staff are super friendly. Good mix of long and short holes which is something I like. I’m not a huge fan of playing a course where every par 3 is over 200yds. This track mixes it up.”

According to Boulder Creek Golf Club’s website, 18 holes with a cart from Monday-Thursday will set you back $40, while to play on the weekend costs $50. Seniors can play the course for as little as $25 during the week.

@BoulderCreekOH

@amgolferblog

@troymezz

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Flightscope’s Alex Trujillo on why all golfers need shot data technology

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In this episode of the GearDive, Johnny chats with Alex Trujillo Sr. Sales Manager for Flightscope about understanding data, how information can make sense to your average golfer, why everyone should utilize data, and the downside of too much data.

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

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Opinion & Analysis

An ode to Lee Westwood

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Lee Westwood secured his 24th European Tour victory last week in South Africa, ending a winless streak that lasted over three years, and showing once again the resiliency that has proven to be a cornerstone in his potentially Hall of Fame career. The victory brought an emotional Westwood to tears as he proved that perhaps, at 45 years old, he should not be counted out just yet. This was his third time hoisting the Nedbank Golf Challenge trophy, and Westwood surmised that he “still got it, I guess.”

Indeed, he does, beating out a solid field that included the likes of Rory McIlroy, a hot Sergio Garcia, and Louis Oosthuizen.

Westwood’s career is characterized by a sort of blue collar style of golf. Even in his younger days he was never the longest off the tee, he doesn’t have the smoothest or most beautiful swing, his short game is at times questionable, and he has often been plagued by an inconsistent flat stick. Westwood’s strength has been his ball striking. His recognizable and repeatable quick dip into the ball is usually followed by a precisely and purely struck shot executed just as he envisioned it, a move which he has used to claim over 40 professional wins.

After breaking onto the scene with his first European Tour win in 1996, Westwood was a mainstay in the top 25 of the Official World Golf Rankings from ’97 to much of 2001, but after a promising start, he plummeted to as low as 266th in the world in 2003, just when he should have been entering his prime. He rebuilt his game and scaled the world rankings once again, this time joining elite company in reaching the coveted top spot in golf in 2010 and again in 2011, for a total of 22 weeks. This comeback of sorts is rare in golf, as many players who lose their form never quite recapture the magic they once had. The longevity of Westwood’s career speaks to his fighting spirit and belief in himself, even through the disappointment that golf often thrusts upon its participants.

Westwood’s three runner up finishes in majors hardly paints the picture of his 80 attempts on golf’s grandest stage. He has 11 top fives and nine top threes, all of which are made more heartbreaking by the fact that the ultimate goal remained elusive for the Englishman. He barely missed out on two of the most famous playoffs in major championship history: Tiger Woods edging out Rocco Mediate in maybe the most dramatic U.S. Open ever in 2008, and Bubba Watson’s heroic hook shot from the trees at Augusta to beat Oosthuizen in 2010. These two near misses seem to serve as an unfortunate microcosm for Westwood’s major championship career in that he played a lot of great golf, was often in the mix on Sunday, but ultimately failed to grab a piece of history.

Westwood plays most of his golf overseas, and his relative quietness on the PGA Tour likely contributes to his under appreciation in the United States, as he has just two wins to his credit, one in ’98 and another in 2010. While much focus will always be directed toward his missing major victory, Westwood’s resume is world class, including nine Ryder Cups and a superb singles and team record, three European Tour Golfer of the Year awards in ’98, ‘00, and ‘09, and the all time leading money winner on the European Tour.

In Westwood’s case, it is important not to confuse missed opportunities with failure. His career will finish with many “what-ifs,” but that should not take away from the greatness of it. With a quirky swing and at times a balky putter, Westwood is nonetheless absolutely an all-timer and class act who should be a household name in discussing the last two decades of professional golf.

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