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Fake News and Golf Instruction: Caution in the Age of Click Bait

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Lose 20 pounds in two weeks. Hit it like Rory.

Cure your insomnia once and for all. Work it like DJ.

Learn to speak Spanish in one week. Never slice, hook, shank, top, hit fat, pull, or push again. 

As one who makes his living teaching a game that is very difficult (and borders on impossible at times), it never ceases to amaze me that I continue to see articles titled the likes of above. Does anyone really think that reading an article is really going to help them hit their driver like Rory… or get up and down every time… or work the ball like a tour pro… or stop a slice or hook forever? Really?

I can assure you these things are not likely to happen… at least not to the degree they are billed. Over the last 35 years on the lesson tee, I’ve seen golfers of all stripes struggle mightily to make small swing changes. Rarely does anyone make significant improvements overnight, let alone after reading one article. Golf swings change glacially. In a two-year span, I helped a student go from an 18-handicap to an 8. There was even one who went from 14 to a scratch over a period of time, but he was also a former professional athlete. What’s important to remember is that these progressions happened over years. They’re also rare.

Readers must consider that the author of any given article probably never saw you swing. So to adopt a “this-is-for-everybody” approach is misleading in my view of learning golf. It seems there is almost nothing that every great golfer does except hit it solid. The idea that there is a magic move that will change it all is anathema to my experience.

Once you know WHAT to do in the golf swing,  you have to learn HOW to do it. I suggest you find someone to guide you through that process, but that is an individual choice. Remember all that your mentor/coach/teacher can do is tell you what… not how. The how part is in the dirt, and it comes out of the dirt s-l-o-w-l-y.

“So if articles don’t help golfers improve, then why do you write them,” you might be thinking. I try to steer clear of titles that are designed to get more readers; I certainly don’t need more students. (The only good thing about getting a little older is one wants less, not more.) Many of you have told me that my shared insights have helped your games in some small ways. That has been the aim all along.

My teaching style is what I call “”if THIS, then THAT.” I try to relate what I’ve seen work for a variety of swing problems. If it helps, great! If something someone else suggested helps, great! Remember that improvement is not all-or-nothing. Every little change helps a lot. If you’re steep and you get less steep, great! If you’re outside-in, and you get less so, great! Sure, maybe you’re not inside yet, but you are on your way. You know what to work on. A lot of students seem to think that if they are not doing something totally right, they’re not improving. That’s a huge misconception.

Golfers will only get better by admitting they have a swing issue and seeking some ways to improve it. While I’m certain some fortunate few have made great strides quickly, the masses plod progressively and hopefully along. I have never claimed to work magic or reveal some secret method that is going to make golfers think about giving up the day job. Golf is a hard game, and we have to improve at it by grinding it out a little at a time.

It’s the journey, not the destination that offers the most joy… and how pleasant the journey can be when you don’t expect to get flat abs overnight… or add 30 yards to your drives.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. RBImGuy

    Feb 11, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Took me 6 hours to change and build a new golf swing after 30 years.
    student built new in 3 weeks, hit longer than he ever did.
    He tried usual modern swing lessons for 5 years! and become depressed how badly he hit it.
    He is happy now

    Some people can do magic, I am one of them

    • RBimGuy

      Feb 11, 2018 at 7:59 pm

      Of course my new WIMB game improvement clubs helped a lot too:
      Cobra F7+ Driver 10.5 Aldila Rogue 125 Silver TS 44.5″
      F6 Baffler 4w stock Matrix Stiff
      Cobra Fly Z 3 hyb. 20* Aldila Rogue 85H R flex
      Cobra Forged TEC 4i Aldila Rogue 85H R Flex
      Cobra Forged TEC 5-PW CTL R flex
      MD2 Tour 52* and 58* CTL R flex
      PM Grind MD3 64* black CTL R flex
      Scotty Studio Stainless Newport 2

  2. Gorden

    Feb 10, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    It is simple, take a sand wedge and a ball, now bounce the ball as many times in a row in the air off the wedge…if you can do it 20 or more times without missing…take golf lessons you have the hand eye coordination to make use of a “Real” golf swing. If like 95% of us and getting the ball to bounce even 4 times without missing you will play better with a “Bandage” swing that will get you on or close to the green and give you a chance to get even better scores. I know several guys in our 60’s that could never get below a 16 no matter how many lessons we took…about 5 years ago one of our group garbed a CD course that taught a single plane swing (Moe Norman type) almost all of us messed around with some of these ideas and we all somehow found a way to keep the ball off the tee in front of us and at least hit other shots towards if not on greens..so we all have a fighting chance to shoot 79…

    • Bruno

      Feb 11, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      So what you are saying is that an up-down clubhead motion makes for a great circular golf swing? Whoda thunk …. 😮

  3. George

    Feb 10, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Isnt this article click bait?

  4. Bruno

    Feb 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Dennis, you forgot this click bait golf fake news/lies:
    “Buy a new set of golf clubs and hit the ball even further and straighter!”
    What is amazing is that desperate incompetent men actually want to believe such misleading nonsense.

    • Dennis Clark

      Feb 11, 2018 at 8:11 am

      Well its not unlike technology period…Everything seems obsolete in 6 months, huh? The problem seems to stem from the consumer mentality on which we are all reared. In golf, the OMs used to re-tool every 5 years, now it seems every five months. Just be discerning, some of it real, just not ALL of it. Thx

      • Bruno

        Feb 11, 2018 at 1:04 pm

        It’s not true “technology”; much of it is a redux of previous club designs.
        As for the “adjustable” drivers with the promise of dialing out your slice and converting it to a draw, well that’s an outright scam. It may work for tour pros who jam all the weights closer to the face to reduce spin, but it does nothing for the mass of golfers who can’t hit on the sweet spot and must depend on dubious back-weighted gear effect. It’s an expensive delusional toy, nothing more.
        The new craze for hollow irons filled with elastomer gunk and flex faces is suspect. Don’t you wonder how so many OMs simultaneously revealed this stupid expensive design? Hmmmm…. 😉

      • Bruno

        Feb 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm

        Much of the “technology” is a redux of old club designs.
        The “adjustable” drivers with the promise of dialing out your slice and converting it to a draw is an outright scam. It works for tour pros who jam all the weights closer to the face to reduce spin. Golfers who can’t hit on the sweet spot must depend on back-weighted gear effect.
        The new craze for elastomer filled hollow irons and flex faces is suspect. Don’t you wonder how so many OMs suddenly revealed this expensive design?
        P-790s are fake forged and fake news too.

  5. Acemandrake

    Feb 9, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Excellent, blunt, plainly spoken article about a subject most golfers would rather ignore.

    “Golf swings change glacially.” Some more glacially than others ?

    I’ve been playing for over 50 years and really began to enjoy the game when I decided to stop chasing tips. It only leads to frustration and confusion.

    “It’s the journey, not the destination that offers the most joy”…YES

    Enjoy the journey, have fun, and keep hope alive.

    “Knowing why you play” would be good advice for those striving for enlightenment ?

    • steve

      Feb 9, 2018 at 11:08 pm

      Some only “play” so they can buy the newest golf clubs and discuss why they “love” their brand new toys. Their game is irrelevant. They are known as “gearheads” and they inhabit this website to load up on the latest golf club gossip.

  6. Dennis

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    The reader has to be discerning. Does the suggestion apply to YOUR swing issue. That is the KEY. A one size fits all approach to swing corrections is misleading in most cases.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      But Dennis, 99% (my guess) of all golfers never take a golf lesson from a qualified instructor like you. They just blunder into the game with a trial and error and error and error approach while depending on something they read or saw on a youtube video. Also they depend on golf store sales people providing them with game improvement clubs. The masses of golfers are not “discerning”; they are “desperate”.
      Have you ever told a student they bought the wrong flex golf shafts for their slow swing speed? Have you ever told a golfer to lose 50 pounds of belly fat before attempting a golf swing? Have you ever told somebody they shouldn’t attempt a golf swing for their safety?
      Great article permitted by the fine folks at WRX!

      • Dennis Clark

        Mar 2, 2018 at 9:05 pm

        Sorry OB, missed this a while back…lose 50 lbs would help a lot not just with golf. ???? I did have guy recently who I switched sides. He was a natural lefty playing righty, and couldn’t hit a ball to save his life. EVERY shot was a ground ball. He bought new lefty clubs and is dong great! Broke 100 with a week.

    • steve

      Feb 9, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      He who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.
      He who teaches himself a golf swing is a clown on the golf course.
      You can’t teach yourself a golf swing because you can’t feel what is happening in real time. It’s trial by error and error and error until the errors create a bad swing that is embedded in the brain and neuro-muscular system.
      Trying to consciously think yourself out of your swing problems with a golf tip is impossible. Anybody who claims instant success is lying… either to you or himself. Gullible golfers mislead THEMSELVES !!

      • Ian B

        Feb 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm

        With so much slow motion video technology available you certainly can analyse your swing. You can even send it off to be analysed and corrections sought.
        I’ve had numerous lessons with different instructors and still do the same things as that’s what my muscle memory has ingrained. I’ve had to change swing through injury but it takes time, and application and that’s what people won’t put in. As soon as I don’t focus old habits (and pains) return.

        • steve

          Feb 12, 2018 at 3:00 pm

          Trying to change your swing from the swinging club back into your body and mind is futile because that’s not how ingrained body patterns are changed.
          If you suffer pain when attempting to swing you either need significant swing compensation or complete physical reconditioning. If it’s an arthritic hip joint or chronic knee injury pain you should seek medical advice and even consider hanging up your golf shoes. Chronic pain will only get worse with time and aggravation.
          When professional athletes want to make a fundamental change to their sport movements they first recondition their body with basic conditioning not related to their sport. They hit the gym and rebuild their body. Then they start sport-specific training before they attempt to introduce the changes. You know what that means; no quickie band-aid solutions. Leadbetter and Faldo took 2 years to rebuild his golf swing and then Faldo started winning big time. Now, scientifically, the rebuild would only take 1 year… except for Tiger who is still messing around with swing tips and types from ignorant instructors. Heed Dennis’ advice.

  7. OB

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Congratulation, Dennis, for telling it like it is.
    Everybody wants to know but few are willing to pay the price of doing.
    Golf is being sold as a “fun” game, but in truth it is a near impossible challenge.
    Most everybody assumes that if they “know” they can “do”. They believe they can “think” their way through a golf swing because they are successful people.
    They come off the course and complain they can’t “think” about all the golf tips.
    Most playing golf are non-athletic types who have a sedentary job in an office, and they believe/hope that the golfing exercise will help them lose weight or strengthen their back muscles. They are deluding themselves.
    Most golfers want to believe there is “power” built into their golf clubs since they are hitting their new clubs farther without trying harder. They live in a purple golf haze.
    Most avoid lessons because they fear being exposed as non-athletic non-golfers.
    Who seeks lessons for their incompetence? Women and athletes in other sports. They know.
    Most seek lessons to be exposed to knowledge straight from their famous teacher and somehow they can band-aid their incompetence without extensive training and much practice. A great social experience too.
    Golf is an over-hyped, over-promoted, over-built, over-sold, over-promised, over-easy, over-populated, over-run, over-aged, over-crowded, over-the-top/counter/hill game for gullible men.
    I play/perform golf occasionally. 😮

  8. Dennis

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Authors note: this is not an article 2 cast aspersions at any site or teacher, it is a word of caution to be careful what you try to incorporate into your own pattern and be realistic about Expectations.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Aaah, Expectations! For most, golf is a game of delusional fun and social participation. Full of yuks.
      According to PGA statistics 95% of the 50 million golfers worldwide cannot break 100, honestly. Only 5% or 2.5 million can play in the 90s and less. Let’s reasonably assume that 80% of the 2.5 million cannot break 90. That means only 200,000 golfers play in the 80s and less! This is a reasonable assessment of golfers worldwide.
      The mass of incompetent golfers are desperate and their only recourse is to buy the newest set of game-improvement clubs. They just don’t have the “time” to train and practice; they need an instant fix to their inconsistent golfswing. That’s how they live their entire lives… it’s normal humanity.

  9. shing

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    MeandMygolf is the worst.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Perhaps you mean “Golf My Way” books… by Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Toski, and a slew of others.
      Hey… golf was exploding in the 1970s and novice golfers were hitting the wall and needed help desperately. It’s still a mystery requiring highly scientific instrumentation to customize your swing, clubs, ball, shoes, shorts, cap, glove, tee, rangefiner, … 😮

  10. the dude

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    nice article DC!….I akin the infomercials products (like the ones that line Hank “the bank” Haneys pockets)….to the diet/exercise craze for the last 200 years (or so). It amazes me how gullible people are…… where commitment takes a back seat to ….”AND IF YOU ACT NOW…..”

    whats the ol’ phrase?? there’s a sucker born every minute……(that phrase was made when the world population was < 1 billion people). I wonder what it is now with TV and social media 🙂

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      “Golfers are gullible.” — Harvey Penick – Little Red Book, page 72.

  11. George

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:24 am

    99% of golf instruction is garbage clickbait.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      No, it’s not “garbage”… but it’s mostly not applicable to those on these WRX fora. Gearhead eye-candy rules here.

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Opinion & Analysis

How to qualify for the U.S. Amateur (in-depth statistical analysis and tutorial)

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This is a follow-up of sorts to an article that I published on GolfWRX in May 2017: A Modern Blueprint to Breaking 80.  

With the U.S. Amateur concluding at iconic Pebble Beach last weekend, I thought of the many amateurs out there who would love to one day qualify for this prestigious event. Personally, I made it to the State Amateur level, but work and life got in the way and I never made it to the next step. For those who aspire or wonder, here’s an outline of what your game should look like if you want to qualify for the U.S. Amateur.

Scoring

To start with, your USGA Index needs to be 2.4 or lower to even attempt to qualify. If your course is rated 71.5/130*, the best 10 of your most recent 20 scores should average 74.3. This score will adjust slightly up if your course is rated more difficult, and slightly down if it’s rated less difficult. For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming the average course and slope rating above.

*Note: 71.5/130 is the average rating of courses played by single digit handicap golfers in the ShotByShot.com database of 340,000 rounds.

Your average scores by par type will be:

  • Par 3:  3.21
  • Par 4:  4.20
  • Par 5:  4.86

The Fastest and Easiest Way to Lower Your Scores

Every round is a mix of good shots, average shots and bad shots/errors. The challenge is to determine which piece of your game’s unique puzzle is your greatest weakness in order to target your improvement efforts on the highest impact area. If you track the simple good and bad outcomes listed below for a few rounds, your strengths and weaknesses will become apparent.

Tee Game or Driving 

Goals: Hit EIGHT fairways and limit your driving errors to ONE, with the majority being the less costly “No Shot errors” (more on this later).

Distance: I will ignore this and assume you’re maximizing distance as best you can without sacrificing accuracy.

Fairways: Hitting fairways is crucial, as we are all statistically significantly more accurate from the short grass.

Errors: Far more important than Fairways Hit, however, is the FREQUENCY and SEVERITY of misses. To help golfers understand the weaknesses in their game, my golf analysis program allows users to record and categorize the THREE types of Driving Errors: 

  1. No Shot: You have missed in a place from which you do not have a normal next shot and require some sort of advancement to get the ball back to normal play.
  2. Penalty: A 1-stroke penalty due to hazard or unplayable lie.
  3. Lost/OB: Stroke and distance penalty. 

Approach Shots 

Goals:  ELEVEN GIRs and ONE penalty/2nd             

Penalty/2nd:  This means either a penalty or a shot hit so poorly that you are left with yet another full approach shot from greater than 50 yards of the hole.

The chart below displays the typical array of Approach Shot opportunities from the fairway (75 percent fall in the 100 to 200-yard range). The 150 to 175-yard range tends to be the most frequent distance for golfers playing the appropriate distance golf course for their game.

Short Game (defined as shots from within 50 yards of the hole)

Chip/Pitch: If you miss 7 greens, you will have 6 green-side save opportunities. Your goals should be:

  • Percentage of shots to within 5 feet: 40 percent
  • Percentage of Saves: 47 percent (3)
  • Percentage of Errors (shots that miss the green):  6 percent, or approximately 1 in 17 attempts.

Sand: You should have 1 of these green-side save opportunities. Your goals: 

  • Percentage of shots to within 8 feet: 35 percent
  • Percentage Saves: 32 percent
  • Percentage of Errors (shots that miss the green): 13 percent, or approximately 1 in 8 attempts.

Putting: You need just over 31 putts.  Aim for:

  • 1-Putts: 6
  • 3-Putts: 1

The chart below displays the percentage of 1-Putts you will need to make by distance, as well as the typical array of first-putt opportunities by distance. Note that 62 percent of your first-putt opportunities will fall in the 4 to 20-foot range. Adjust your practice efforts accordingly!

Good luck, and please let me know if and when you are successful.

For a complete Strokes Gained Analysis of your game, log on to ShotByShot.com and sign up for a 1-round free trial.

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Opinion & Analysis

Here’s who should be the four U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s picks based on analytics

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After the PGA Championship, the U.S. Ryder Cup team solidified 8 of its 12 players on the team. Now, captain Jim Furyk will have to decide who the other 4 players will be to join the team. In this day and age of advanced data analytics, it is imperative for the U.S. team to utilize an analytical approach. The European team has used advanced analytics in recent Ryder Cups, and they now field one of the best European squads of all time. Any advantage that the Europeans have that the U.S. team can counter would behoove Furyk and his chances of being a winning Ryder Cup captain.

Normally, captains have sought out players that have played well right before the Ryder Cup. This is a sound strategy. My statistical research on the subject is that most players reach peak performance for about four events in a row. Then their performance inevitably dips to a degree before eventually they hit peak performance, again.

The golden rule is that 80 percent of a player’s earnings in a season come in about 20 percent of the events they play in. Thus, if a player earns $2 million and plays 25 events in a season there’s a good likelihood that he earned $1.6 million of that in just 5 events.

These trends show that picking a hot player is fairly important. However, the issue is that Furyk has to make 3 of the picks by September 3rd and the last pick by September 9th and the Ryder Cup starts on September 28th. Thus, it’s very plausible that a player who is picked because they are playing great golf may cool down a bit by the time the Ryder Cup is being played. Therefore, finding a player with a hot hand is not quite what it is cracked up to be. But, I would recommend staying away from players that are playing miserably. History has shown that a hot player that is selected is more likely to perform better at the Ryder Cup than the cold player that gets selected.

There are some simple statistical rules to follow for optimal picks:

  1. Seek out quality performers around the green as it helps most in the Foursome (alternate shot) and individual match play format.
  2. You want birdie makers and quality performers on each of the holes (par-3’s, par-4’s and par-5’s) for the Fourball (best score) format.
  3. Ryder Cup experience doesn’t mean anything if the player is a poor Ryder Cup performer.
  4. All things being equal, take the younger player.
  5. Lean towards the player who fits into both Fourball and Foursome formats over the slightly better player that only fits well into one format.

A good way to start to determine what picks you need is to understand your current team. Here are the rankings in key metrics for the top-8 players on the U.S. team (rankings based out of 205 players):

The top-8 players compile a good driving team that drives the ball effectively thru hitting the ball a long ways rather than being deadly accurate off the tee. One of the best attributes the top-8 has is that they are a very good Short Game team (median ranking of 40.5). They are also pretty good from the Red Zon (175-225 yards), but are better from the Yellow Zone (125-175 yards).

The top-8 has dominated par-4’s (median ranking of 11.5) and par-5’s (median ranking of 20) while being good on the par-3’s (median ranking of 44.5). They also make a lot of birdies (median ranking 27th).

It should also be noted that Brooks Koepka’s data could probably be thrown out since it was skewed by him coming off an injury and he is clearly a different and much improved player in recent months. Koepka has typically been one of the better putters on Tour and a pretty good Red Zone performer.

The potential issues I see is that they do not hit a lot of fairways and have some players with issues hitting shots from the rough which is a bad combination in the Foursome format. Also, Webb Simpson currently stands as their weakest link on the team as he has not played that well in recent months and they will likely need to figure out a way to work around him if his performance doesn’t improve between now and the Ryder Cup.

Here are the picks I would recommend making at this point:

Tiger Woods

This is clearly the easiest pick to make even though Tiger’s Ryder Cup record has not been exactly stellar. Forget about Tiger being arguably the greatest player of all time, his performance has clearly indicated that he deserves to be on this Ryder Cup team. Furthermore, he’s statistically a quality fit in either the Fourball or Foursome format. The only issue I see is that given his age and his back issues, it would be wise to use him in no more than 3 matches in the first two days and even that may be too much for him. But, I would love to see him paired in the Foursome format with a player who hits fairways and can play well from the rough for those drives that Tiger struggles with.

Tony Finau

Finau has had 8 top-10 finishes and 2 second place finishes this season. He’s a nice looking fit at the Ryder Cup because he’s a great fit in the Fourball format and a pretty good fit in the Foursome format. In fact, my simulations find that he and Tiger would be a good fit together in either format.

Bryson DeChambeau

Again, versatility and youth play a key role in his selection. You never quite know who is going to show up at the Ryder Cup and who may get injured. Thus, there’s always a need for a player that fits both formats and can play in ever match if needed. The simulations I’ve ran really like a Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau pairing.

Patrick Cantlay

This was a difficult choice between Cantlay, Mickelson and Zach Johnson. The pros for Mickelson is that he has played well in recent Ryder Cups and certainly has the experience. He’s also not a bad fit in the Foursome format and a really good fit in the Fourball format if paired with another birdie making machine that avoids bogeys and plays well on par-3’s (i.e. Koepka, Fowler and Tiger). Zach has been a quality Ryder Cup performer as well and is best suited for the Foursome format. However, he’s not such a bad fit in the Fourball format. He doesn’t hit it long, but he does make birdies (43rd in Adjusted Birdie Percentage).

From a pure numbers point of view, my simulations favor Cantlay. I wish he was better from the Red Zone and from the rough, but he’s still a quality candidate in both formats and has youth on his side. For sentimental reasons, I would pick Mickelson because the simulations such as him and Tiger in the Fourball format, and this will likely be the last time that the two can ever be paired together. The numbers don’t care about emotions, though. And that’s why Cantlay is the pick for now. It would just be wise to wait until September 9th to make the final pick.

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Opinion & Analysis

Prospective NCAA Golfers, are you ready for September 1? Here’s what you should be doing

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In June, I reported changes to the NCAA rules, including new legislation that prevented college coaches from contacting a prospective student athlete before September 1 of their Junior Year. With September 1 just around the corner, the question is: are you ready?

If not, don’t worry. As always, I am here to help you understand the college landscape and find the best opportunity to pursue your passion in college! Here’s what you need to know:

Be Prepared

Over time, you are going to hear from some coaches. It is important that students are prepared to talk to coaches. Before speaking to a coach, it is important to do research about their institution; what are the grades required for admissions? How many players are on the team? How much of the student population lives on campus? Know the basics before your conversation.

It is also important that you are ready to answer a couple questions. Coaches are very likely to ask, why are you interested in my school? Tell me about your grades or academic interests? Or, tell me about your golf game? Be honest and remember a passion for the game goes a long way.

Coaches are also likely to ask if you have any questions. Having a couple questions written down is important. If you are not sure what to ask, here are some questions I recommend:

  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • What is your favourite part of coaching?
  • What type of student best fits in at your university?
  • What type of athlete best fits in?
  • What are the goals for the golf program?
  • How do you determine who play play in your top 5 at tournaments?
  • Do you ever take more than 5 players to a tournament?
  • What access does the team have to golf courses?
  • Is it expected to have your own vehicle?
  • Do you do any technical swing work with the players?
  • What is your greatest strength as a coach?
  • Do you offer academic support, such as tutors for students?
  • What percent of teachers have terminal degrees?
  • How does my major (X) impact golf? Can I do it and golf?
  • Do you support graduates in getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting into grad schools?

Know the Numbers

With only a couple weeks before September 1, I would recommend you take time and see where you (or your son and daughter) stands on websites such as Junior Golf Scoreboard or Rolex AJGA Rankings. Now that you know the number, consider in several previous articles I have presented how rankings related to college signings. My analysis of the numbers demonstrates that, for boys, the average Division I player is ranked approximately 300 in Junior Golf Scoreboard in their class with a scoring differential of about .5. The average Division II player is ranked about 550 in their class. For girls, it appears that ranking is less important, but there is a strong relationship between scoring differential and college signings. Girls that sign at schools within the top 50 have scoring differentials of at least -3 or better, while the average for any Division I player is approximately 5.

Keep in mind that when you search on Junior Golf Scoreboard for yourself, it will show your ranking overall. This number is going to be much lower for your ranking in your class. Without a subscription, you will not be able to find your exact rank, but I would generally say you can cut the number by about 50 percent to give yourself a fair gauge. So if you are 3750 overall, you are likely close to 1875 in your class.

For many members of the junior class reading this article, they may see that their ranking might be significantly higher than these numbers. Don’t panic; the rankings are over a 1-year period. After a year, old scores drop off and new scores can be counted. Also, on Junior Golf Scoreboard, your worst 25 percent of rounds are not counted. So, you have time to continue to work on your game, improve your ranking and get the attention of coaches!

Do your research

Now that you have an idea about your ranking, start researching. Where did players of similar rank sign last year? What is the rank of that school? What schools are ranked about the same? Answering these questions will require some time and two resources; Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfstat.com. To find out where similar players signed from last year, go to njgs.com, then under the tab “rankings & honors,” the bottom option is college signees. Click there, and then you can order the signees based on class rank by clicking on “scoreboard class ranking as of signing date.” You will notice that last year, players ranked about 1800 in their class signed at such schools as Kenyon, Glenville, Southern Nazarene, Central Alabama Community college and Allegany college. Pretty good considering these schools have produced a president of the United States (Hayes, Kenyon), and a 5-time Major Championship participant (Nathan Smith, Allegany).

Now that you have a list of schools where similar students have signed, look up the golf rankings of these schools on golfstat.com. The rankings of schools are under the “rankings” tab on the home page and segmented by NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA.

First find out where the school is ranked and then consider schools ranked 5-10 spots ahead and behind that school. Are any of these of interest? Any where you think might sound interesting? Take time and build a list, then send an email to those schools introducing yourself, along with a swing video.

Have a Plan

Regardless if you are a Junior in High School or a Senior in High School, come September 1, remember that there is still time and regardless of what people say, coaches are always looking. For High School Juniors, it is likely that next summer will have a critical impact on your opportunities in college golf, so what can you do over the next 9 months? Where are you missing out on the most shots? Take time, talk to people and develop a plan to give yourself the best chance to succeed in the future. And then, put in the time!

For Seniors, although many might be in your ear saying it’s too late, don’t listen to them. You still have some time. Take a careful look at how you can use the next 2-3 months to improve and prepare for events such as the AJGA Senior Showcase in Las Vegas. Remember that data suggests that up to one-third of players sign in the late period (for all levels) and up to 60 percent of players who compete in the AJGA Senior Showcase in December in Las Vegas, go on to get offers.

As always, if you have any feedback on this article or a story idea, please feel free to reach out to me! I always love hearing from people and helping them connect with schools that meet their academic, athletic, social and financial needs! Best of luck to you, or your son/daughter.

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