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An analysis of junior golf events, and how to build your summer schedule

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Much has been written about junior golf and scheduling. I wanted to go beyond the speculation and carefully examine the data; what does it take to win at the AJGA level? How hard are the golf courses? What are other juniors doing? What is the best advice for building a junior schedule? If you’re interested in these answers, then read on!

To help the junior golfer, their families and instructors, I took the time to crunch numbers behind the AJGA. Here’s what I found when examining the numbers for 2017:

Junior All Stars

For Junior All-stars we found the average winning per round score for boys was 69.97 and the average 10th place score per round was 72.95. The average yardage for these events was 6599 and the average course rating was 73.35. The average grad year of a winner was 2019. This means to win; the average boy had a tournament handicap of approximately +3.

For Junior All-stars for girls, we found the average winning score per round to be 71.1 and the average score per round for 10th place was 74.9. Girls on averaged played courses which were 5751 yards long with a course rating of 71.95. These means to win; the average girl would need a handicap of about scratch in tournaments. The average graduation year of a winner was 2020.5.

AJGA Previews

For Preview tournaments, we found that the boy winners averaged 72.81 per round. The 10th place boy averaged 76.6 per round. The average course was 6484 long with a course rating of 71.77.

For girls we found that the winners averaged 75.6 per round. The 10th place girl averaged 83.11 per round from an average yardage of 5610 with a course rating of 73.08.

AJGA Open Events

The average winning score per round was 69.46. The average 10th place score per round was 72.75 on an average length of 6849 and slope of 71.9. For girls the average winning score per round was 69.36. The average 10th place score per round was 74.34. The average course was 5769 yards with a slope of 70.7.

Note on Junior Girls Golf

In my previous article titled, “In-depth analysis of the early signing period for NCAA Division 1 Women’s Golf,” I note that the scoring differential of the players within the top 40 in the class was -4.01 compared to 9.26 which is the overall average for Division 1 Golf. The data collected here demonstrates these differences; winners at AJGA previews are scoring approximately 8 shots better than the person finishing 10th. While at AJGA Open events the number is closer to 5. This numbers highlight the crop of young talents women who are developing in junior women’s golf.

Rounds Under Par

  • In total there were 1698 rounds under par by boys in 2017
  • In total there were 454 rounds under par by girls in 2017

Please note that when these numbers are compared at random to years since 2003, and then adjusted for the number of events, it demonstrates that junior golf has not really gotten much better over the past 15 years. Instead it is about the same.

Major Takeaways from analysis of AJGA Events

  1. Remember that tournaments are not the only way to test your game; use random practice (and maybe even some responsible gambling) at your local course to simulate tournament conditions and learn to win
  2. Play a reasonable distance day to day: so many young people are playing golf at their home golf course from “the tips.” Our data suggests that 15-year-old boys should be practicing from about 6500 yards, while 15-year-old girls should be playing 5800 yards. 16-18-year-old boys should be practicing from about 6800 yards while 16-18-year-old girls should be practicing from about 6000 yards.
  3. Learn to Break Par: to win at Junior Golf, it is likely going to take the ability to break par (or come very close). Boy golfers serious about playing Division I golf must likely have home course handicaps in the range of +3 or better. This is also the case for girls who want to compete at the highest level of women’s golf. If you play at an extremely difficult course, don’t be afraid to play very short until you are able to shoot in the mid 60’s. Like any skill, breaking par takes time and practice.

I also took time to examine the schedules of 20 junior golfers. I looked at two groups; players ranked between 1-10 in Junior Golf Scoreboard and players ranked 500-510. When looking at the top 10 players in Junior Golf Scoreboard, they played an average of 6.3 events per year/18 total rounds compared to an average of 15 events/30 total rounds for players with an average rank of 505. This data is somewhat misleading because the best juniors are playing a schedule which include major amateur tournaments which are not recorded on Junior Golf Scoreboard and further analysis suggests that they are playing a total tournament schedule of about 15 events per year.

The gap in junior golf between the best players and everyone else is closing; the top 10 players in Junior Golf Score Board accumulated 10 wins, whereas the players ranked 500-510 had 8. Both are breaking par a considerable amount of time and have net scoring differentials at or below 0, making them approximately 72.5 averages or better in tournament golf. The differences to not are the best players are breaking par more often (50 percent of the time compared to 23 percent) and shooting in the 80’s far less (2/188 rounds compared to 30/308 rounds). However, the best players are also making specific schedule; only 20 percent of the top 10 junior golfers played an event in December or January (both played in South Florida), compared to 70 percent of players ranked between 500-510 who often played in worst climates during colder months which often result in poor scores.

The best players play a schedule where they have proper time to prepare for events and rarely play leading up to events. A typical schedule would include an event in February (typically an AJGA Invitational), an event in April (Sage Valley) and then no golf until mid-June or July when the players have had time to finish school and properly prepare for summer golf.

Taking time off is an important distinction in the scheduling of the very best players; they allow themselves time for not only rest but also for digestion of the skills and to build new skills. Too many junior golfers and their families have been taken by skillful marketing that suggests playing tournaments is very important for the scholarship process when the data and feedback from coaches suggest otherwise.

Based on the data collected and my own personal experience, here is some advice for junior golfers and their families trying to build a schedule:

  1. The schedule should have between 8-15 tournaments. It is not important to travel far and if money is tight, put money towards a membership at a course rather than events.
  2. For people north of the Mason-Dixon Line, apply the 2-month Rule; don’t play your first summer tournament until your home course has been open and playable for 2 months and you have played at least 20 rounds.
  3. Quality > Quantity. Choose a schedule which will allow you to not only properly prepare but compete during a time without distractions like major tests.
  4. Use high school golf to build competitive experience. Contrary to myth, almost all the best juniors play high school golf.
  5. Avoid tournaments in December and January; not only is the weather statistically the worst, but new NCAA rules do not allow coaches to recruit off campus during December.
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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

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona

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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 evgolfer, who takes us to Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona. The course sits at the base of South Mountain, offering up some stunning scenic mountain views, and in his description of the track evgolfer praises the fair test that the course offers up to players of all levels.

“I love it because the price is always right as a City of Phoenix municipal course. The conditions are usually fairly decent. Also, the course presents a fair challenge to me as a high handicapper and still appeals to low caps. It is easily walkable. Not surrounded by houses, not overly tight or cramped. Designed by Gary Panks. Not overly penal.”

According to Aguila Golf Course’s website, in peak time, an 18 hole round can be booked for $29, with the rate rising to $44 should you wish to add a cart. While, off-peak the price drops to $34, which includes a cart.

@TheHectorRios

@VernonLorenz

@HSTuscon

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

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Opinion & Analysis

This stat indicates Tiger Woods will win major 15 in 2019

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For Tiger Woods’ fans, it’s been over 10 years waiting for his 15th major victory. Even with PGA Tour win No. 80, plenty are already looking ahead to next year’s major.

Looking into Tiger’s performance at the majors in 2018, and more recently the PGA Championship, there’s exciting news for his fans. Tiger briefly held the lead at this year’s Open Championship, only to finish in a tie for sixth. But, it’s his performance at the PGA Championship, when he stormed home for second place thanks to a final round 64, and the recent statistics behind that tournament, that will get his legion of supporters brimming with confidence.

Going back to 2015, strong performances at the PGA Championship have proven to be a great form line for the following year’s major winners. In fact, if you go back further into the records, it extends for several years prior as well. Let’s take a look at recent PGA Championship results and the players that emerged from those performances that lead to major victory the next year.

The 2017 PGA Championship was one of the strongest forms lines in recent years. Justin Thomas won the tournament by two shots, but Patrick Reed, and Francisco Molinari tied for second. Reed went on to win this year’s Masters and Molinari won the Open Championship to capture their first major championships.

At the 2016 PGA Championship, Jimmy Walker surprised the field with victory, but an emerging talent in Brooks Koepka finished tied for fourth and would go on to secure his 1st major in 2017 by winning the U.S. Open. Interesting, Patrick Reed and Francisco Molinari were also just outside the top-10.

The 2015 PGA Championship was won by Jason Day, but current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished tied for seventh. Dustin went on to win his first major, the U.S. Open, the following year at the Oakmont Country Club. Also worth noting: Jordan Spieth finished second to Jason Day and went close to winning the Masters the next year only to finish in second place.

Fast forward to this year’s PGA Championship where Tiger finished second behind Brooks Koepka. Is it a sign that his 10-year major drought could end in 2019? And don’t forget, if Tiger has a great chance in 2019, then surely players that finished around him in that tournament, such as Adam Scott, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland, must have high hopes for 2019 too?

All this is true and only time will tell if the tournament form line stacks up.

Anyway you look at the 2018 PGA Championship results, it’s a great form line for 2019, and Tiger could well be in the mix in the big ones next year. With his body coping well with the rigors of the tough PGA Tour circuit, Tiger Woods’ fans can be feeling good about his chances for the 2019 season.

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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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