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Growing Up Golf Part 5: Structured Play

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There will be a time when your child is going to cross over from “play time” to what I like to call “structured play time.” In the beginning stages of your child’s golf career you have been able to get by with taking them to the practice area and letting them have fun. As your child grows and develops into a young golfer, they will need to start some form of structured play.

Notice that I still refer to their time at the practice area or on the course as “play.” We never want to forget that golf is still a game to them, and we as parents need to keep it fun. After all, what child wants to go and “work” at something.

Structured play can come in the form of lessons, participating in the First Tee Program or enrolling into an ag- appropriate group class.  Our daughter starting going to a program created for children ages 3 to 5 called “Little Tigers” when she turned 3. The class curriculum is very basic and there is no complicated instructions other than to have fun playing golf with other children the same age as her.

They play putting games such as putting a ball to a bell that rings when they hit it and chip shots through a hoola-hoop. I found this class in a local golf publication in my area. Check your local publications to see if a similar program is available for your children.

My wife and I wanted to introduce golf to our children because we love golf. Knowing that golf can be played for a life time, we wanted to share this with them and have something that we as a family can always do together. I am guessing most of you are golfers and maybe some you are not, and that’s ok too. I mention this because I know some of you are going to take on the role of “coach” sooner or later.

I can tell you from my experience, taking the leap from parent to coach is not an easy transition. When I was instructing baseball/softball, I would have a parent bring their child in for a lesson. I would observe and point out what I felt needed to be improved. The child and I would discuss it and then start working towards becoming better. The child would without question work at whatever needed improvement. Nine times out of 10 I would have a parent say something like, “I have been trying to get them to stop doing that for a month.” I would walk over to the frustrated parent while the child was working on a drill (so they child could not hear me) and say to them:

“Every parent who brings their son/daughter to me for a lesson all say the exact same thing.”

I would then go on to explain it’s not that you don’t know what your talking about, it’s because you’re “MOM” or “DAD.”  It’s perfectly normal.

I share this story because there is going to be a point in time when your child is going to believe you have exhausted all your knowledge of the game, even if it’s not true and you have a wealth of knowledge to share with them. They will simply look at you as Mom or Dad, unless of course, you are a certified teaching pro (sometimes that doesn’t matter either).

This is completely normal and please don’t get frustrated if it happens. I want you to be aware of this and recognize it if it should start to happen. At that point, you will probably need to seek out an instructor who specializes in working with juniors and younger children. This will save an enormous amount of frustration for you and your child.

If you frequent the GolfWRX forum, you may be aware I was selected as one of the five members to represent GolfWRX in the TaylorMade RocketBladez Ultimate Experience. Myself and four other members where flown to Naples, Fla., for a fitting at the TaylorMade Performance Lab at the Tiburon Golf Club. While we were there we attended the grand opening of the Performance Lab, where guests received a gift package that included the PGA Tour Academy Home Edition.

Before I start, I am a firm believer that there is no substitution for one-on-one instruction with a certified teaching professional. But after reviewing this product I have to say, this is as close to personal instruction as you can get. If funds are limited this may be a solution to improving your child’s development.

The PGA Tour Academy Home Edition is an eight week course of instruction and comes complete with everything you need to improve your game.

 

TEN DVDs with 28 LESSONS & PRACTICE SESSIONS: Each lesson is about 20-to-40 minutes and designed to be completed at home. The lessons are dynamic, so make sure you actively follow the instruction, give yourself enough room, and focus on learning and trying the movements and skills.

THERE ARE TWO PRACTICE TRACKS that follow each lesson – white track for all abilities and BONUS blue track for advanced players. After each DVD lesson, watch your corresponding practice routine for the White or Blue Track. This practice routine shows you the specific drills you’ll be completing at the practice facility. The drills are straight forward, easy to follow and support the new skills and techniques you learned during the home lesson.

PRACTICE CALENDAR: Each home lesson has two levels of practice that follow the white track or blue track. Each practice session consists of three customized 15 minute drills that reinforce what you learned during the home lesson.

PRACTICE GUIDE: Thiscovers every practice routine in the program and describes each of the drills you’ll be completing during the eight-week program. It helps every level of golfer improve their game in just eight weeks with structured-practice program based on skill development and building a swing from the ground up. Players will learn what the pros know and achieve a breakthrough in their golf skill and knowledge.

INCLUDED: Contact bag and alignment sticks for all lessons.

INSTRUCTION BOOK: Over a 100 pages to help every golfer reach their potential and accelerate improvement.

As an instructor, one of the hardest elements for me to teach a student was “feel.” I worked very hard at creating drills and training aids to teach it, and found that feel is one of the hardest things to teach. What impressed me most about the learning system is how they teach and isolate body movements. The novice or beginner may not realize that the drills they are doing are teaching feel and proper body movements, but those of you who know proper swing mechanics will recognize that the learning system is teaching feel immediately.

When the time arrives to cross the bridge of play to structured play, keep it fun, make it simple in the beginning, keep an eye out for parent to coach back to parent transition and seek the help of a certified teaching professional who specializes working with youths. If funds are a concern, the PGA Tour Academy Home Edition may be a solution for you.

Click here for more discussion in the “junior golf” forum.

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Kadin Mahmet has a passion for golf. He has coached at the collegiate level and has worked as an instructor specializing in youth athletics. You can follow Kadin on Twitter @BigKadin. "Like" Growing Up Golf on Facebook @ facebook.com/Growing.Up.Golf for more content.

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Podcasts

Gear Dive: USC head golf coach Chris Zambri on the challenges that will come with the new NCAA rules

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In this Special Edition of The Gear Dive, USC Men’s Head Golf Coach Chris Zambri discusses his thoughts on the new NCAA mandates, how to get recruited, and the pros and cons of recruiting can’t-miss superstars.

  • 9:55 — Zambri discusses thoughts on new rule
  • 17:35 — The rule he feels is the toughest navigate
  • 26:05 — Zambri discusses the disadvantages of recruiting a “can’t miss” PGA star
  • 32:50 — Advice to future recruits
  • 44:45 — The disadvantages of being tied to an OEM as a college golf team

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

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A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

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New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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