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Opinion & Analysis

97 top junior golfers weigh in on what practice, tournament play, and more are really like

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With the generous support of the American Junior Golf Association and players from the 2018 Evian Senior Showcase in Las Vegas, Nevada, we were able to collect data on the development pathways of 97 junior golfers.

The survey, which had 7 questions, meant to provide some basic insights into what the average junior golfer is doing in terms of practice, tournament play and coaching. Here are the questions and results.

At what age did you become serious about golf? The average answer to the question was 12 years old with only 7% stating that they started seriously before age 7 versus 39% which started at 14 or later. The youngest age reported was 2 years old and the oldest was 16 (reported by 6 people).

Do you play high school golf? 81.44% of respondents indicated that they do play high school golf. The data suggests while some think negatively about high school golf, it plays a significant role in the golfers and most junior golfers DO participant.

How many events do you plan to play this year? 95 players responded to the question with an average of 18 events. When looking closer at the data the distribution is normal with approximately 68% of the students reporting to play between 15 to 20 tournaments.

How would you rate the quality of your home golf course on a scale of 1-100? 96 players responded to the question and the average score was 67. Approximately 30% of respondents gave their home facility a score of 80% or better (with 5 reporting 100%), while 7% reported their home facility deserved a score of 20% or lower.

How would you rate the quality of the players at your club on a scale of 1 to 100, where 100 would be PGA Tour Players? The average score was 45. 37.5% of junior golfers gave their home club a score of 20 or less here with 3% reporting having PGA tour professionals.

How would you describe access to your course using a scale of 1-10, where 1 is very limited access and 10 is unlimited access? 96 junior golfers responded with an average score of 6.3. When looking closer at the results, they are very polarized with 36% reporting a score of 1 or less (incredible bad access) while nearly 50% report a score of 8.5 or better (meaning virtually unlimited access).

How many times per year do you see your coach? 96 players responded with an average answer of 36 times. 2 players reported not having a coach, while 15% reported seeing their coach either less than 10 times per year or more than 70 times per year, while 6% reported seeing a coach 100+ times per year.

What percent of your time is spent on the golf course versus the range? 96 junior golfers responded to this question with the average being about 50-50. When looking closer at the data, 85% of respondents do about 50-50 with a standard deviation of about 15%.

So, what? This information provides excellent insight into the average American junior golfer, who according to the data started playing about 12 years old, plays high school golf and another 18 events per year. They are a member at good course, with decent access but not too many people to play with and see their coach a couple times a month. When they are at the course, they like to split their time between playing and practicing.

During the holidays, I did a more in-depth survey with elite golfers; players with international records, many of whom have represented their country and are currently playing college golf. In the coming weeks, I will compare this data to the data collected about these players to highlight key differences, which will hopefully help junior golfers better understand their pathways to elite golf!

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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

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. IMO

    Jan 27, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    High School depending what type of program your dealt, can be bad for a truly talented player…

    • ChiliDip

      Jan 27, 2019 at 8:36 pm

      Great observation, my son lasted all of 2 days in his high school program. For one they didn’t have a golf class so they would head to a course 30+ mins. away after school at 4:30. Only practiced 4 days a week at most, the coach would not have a schedule for practice so it was a free for all once they arrived at the course. And, the coach wouldn’t let you go for private instruction during the week. Horrible!!! My son is a senior now and has been recruited to play in a small private university. He played regional, state wide, and AJGA events that by far helped prepare him for the next level…

  2. Steve

    Jan 27, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Here’s a good question. How much money do you think your parents shell out annually for your membership/tournament fees/coaching?

  3. Acemandrake

    Jan 26, 2019 at 11:19 am

    Good intro/background info. Could be expanded. Maybe describe a typical day (non-tournament & tournament)?

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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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