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Opinion & Analysis

What college golf coaches really look for in a player

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A junior golfer may wonder what he or she needs to do to impress college coaches. There are many factors to recruiting aside from scores alone. Scores and physical ability are always what first grabs a coach’s attention, but it goes far beyond that. There are many good golfers that have good golf swings. If you really want to stand out to a coach, here are some elements that coaches value most.

Maturity

Maturity, both on and off the course, is very important. When a coach watches you play, they aren’t there to see if you shoot under par that day; they have already seen your resume and likely swing videos. A big part of what they are looking for is how you carry yourself on the course. Do you have good body language? Do you overreact to poor shots? How do you handle adversity? How you interact with those around you? These are some of the thing coaches look for, it’s not about seeing what you shoot that day. For example, if you make a double on a hole how you react and bounce back on the next hole carries more weight than the double bogey itself.

Maturity off the course is equally as important. Once you get to college you gain a lot more responsibility than you ever had before. Your parents can no longer wake you up for class and keep track of your schedule for you. The last thing a coach wants to do is babysit. Showing maturity on the course and in the way you communicate and carry yourself will go a long way.

Scores

Scores will always be the most important factor for a coach. You must have proven results that are comparable to the level of play the coach is looking for. It is imperative to understand that there is a big difference between shooting 72 in your local club championship from 5,400 yards (female) or 6,400 yards (male) and shooting 72 in a state tournament from 6,000 yards (female) or 6,900 yards (male).

The bigger tournaments are the first results that coaches will look at and carry the most weight. There are many good junior tours that provide good competition and allow you to show what you are capable of. A few of these are: AJGA, SJGT, PKBGT, HJGT and Golf Week Junior Tour.

Always try to play in at least a couple events each summer from distances comparable to college golf — which is around 6,000 yards on the female side and 7,000 yards on the male side. These distances are the reason many coaches don’t pay much attention to high school results, the length played is too short to really be comparable. To get your name out there for coaches to see you have to play in some bigger events.

Passion and Work Ethic

Scores are a big piece to the puzzle, as mentioned above, but that doesn’t guarantee success at the collegiate level. Coaches want players that are continually striving to improve and that love the game. If you aren’t willing to work hard and get better every day, and you just go through the motion doing the bare minimum asked of you it won’t cut it. Your talent can only take you so far, without hard work you will be passed by your teammates and those you compete against.

If you have a bad stretch and don’t make the lineup the first couple events a coach needs to know you are going to keep working hard and not give in to any setbacks. Coaches want players that want to get better, they don’t want to have to make players work — a player should want to do that on their own.

Mental Toughness

College golf is an incredible experience and is a lot of fun, but it is also very tough sometimes. Competing for a spot in the lineup, balancing school and golf, facing adversity, all these things can be hard at times and it is important a player can handle these situations as they come. Being mentally tough is one thing the best players have in common. No matter how you are playing and how tough it gets the ability to push through and become stronger from the experience is where growth and eventually success comes from. Mental toughness is something that isn’t taught near enough with junior golfers and understanding the importance on being a tough competitor and approaching situations with the right mindset is what separates the great from the good players.

At the collegiate level, and within a team, the physical ability is there. Some are more talented than others, but the real separation comes from grasping the idea of mental toughness and being able to approach the game with the right mindset. For example, college golf in the spring isn’t sunny and 75, more times than not, it’s cold and sometimes rainy.

Which player is going to play better on the day it’s 40 degrees and raining?

  • Player A: “It’s so cold and I’m wet, I can’t wait for this round to be over”
  • Player B: “I’m going to take advantage of these conditions and the fact that my competitors don’t wanting to be out here, before I tee off I already have an edge over my competition”

Regardless of playing ability, I would take Player B ever time.

There is a lot more that goes into choosing a player than just scores. If you have these intangibles, a coach will notice, and it will play a big role in their decision. If you feel like you lack in some of these areas, work on them along with your physical game, and it will help you both in the recruiting process and with your golf game as a whole.

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Opinion & Analysis

An important way Tiger Woods changed professional golf

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Tiger Woods is, without a doubt, one of the most influential players in the history of golf. 80 tour wins, 14 majors (10 of them before he was 30) are all incredible numbers.

But this article is not about his amazing stats.

Today, I want to talk about one thing he has done for the game off the course. Most of us remember the Nike commercial with all the little kids saying “I am Tiger Woods.” What we didn’t realize at the time was that an entire generation of young players were growing up idolizing Tiger.

While other kids may have had posters of Michael Jordan or Troy Aikman on their walls, these kids had posters of Tiger. They watched his every move. They all had black shorts or pants with a red shirt to wear on Sunday. They all wanted to be him. Some of those kids were Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Rory Mcllroy, and Lexi Thompson. They watched him and were amazed at how dominate he was and wanted to be like him.

As these kids grew up, they understood that the physical shape that Tiger always seemed to be in played a key role in how many tournaments he won and how, even on bad days when his skills seemed to take a day or two off, his physical conditioning got him through it. The young people watched him and started to include physical conditioning in their game. They were spending time in the gym and working with personal trainers. They still worked with swing coaches and in most cases played NCAA golf but the difference in their game was the work they did without a club in their hand.

So what is it that gives these players an edge? Is it because they are stronger? Maybe. Is it because they hit the ball further? No, because John Daly could bomb the driver but was in no way the most dominate player of his day. The key here is endurance. Because of the incredible shape these players keep themselves in, they can walk 72 holes of golf in brutally hot conditions and still have their A games on Sunday.

This is exactly what helped Tiger to be so good his competition couldn’t keep up with him and just faded down the leaderboard. Playing Tiger in his prime meant you had to have your entire game at its best and hope he missed a few shots or got sick. If he didn’t he was going to sneak up on you and pounce or he was already so far ahead that you were in a race for second place.

Today’s players have swing coaches and athletic trainers they work closely with nutrition experts and monitor everything they put into their bodies. These are the type of things we historically have expected to see from top NFL, NHL and NBA players, not golfers. This is the difference that Tiger has made and this may be the thing that impacts golf for decades to come. He has made golf into a sport that requires you to be in the best shape of your life if you want to play at the highest levels. It is also exactly what the game needed.

I can’t imagine the players of 25 years ago wearing golf shirts that were designed to be skin tight. I never would have believed seeing players with biceps bigger than some peoples legs (Brooks Koepka) but today it’s a reality. Most of the top players on both the PGA and LPGA are in great shape and reap the benefits of it on the 18th green on Sunday. Tiger will be remembered as an amazing player with amazing numbers. He is one of just a few players whose galleries could rival that of small cities. He is also a player that changed the way a generation of greats now play the game.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: WildHorse Golf Club in Gothenburg, Nebraska

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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 Gizmogolf, who takes us to WildHorse Golf Club in Gothenburg, Nebraska. In Gizmogolf’s description of the course, he singles out the fast greens as being the main attraction for a visit to this track.

“Nearly as good as Sand Hills.  Less isolated just off I-80.  Best greens you’ll ever play–lightning fast.”

According to WildHorse Golf Club’s website, walking 18 holes during the week will set you back $51.50, while the rate rises to $61.50 should you want to play on the weekend.

@ericpeytongolf

@MellissaTeaches

@ericpeytongolf

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

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Podcasts

TG2: Do the new USGA rules even matter?

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Knudson and Rob discuss the new USGA rules for 2019, wondering if they will make any difference at all. Dropping from the knee, time to find your ball, ground in the hazard, and stroke/distance are all talked about.

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

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