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Suggestions for Junior Golf Coaches and Parents


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#1 Golf31

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 01:35 PM

I took over the golf program at my kids’ school last year after being an assistant coach the year before.  I want to share my experience with all of those that have kids playing golf from grades 5th-8th.  We as passionate golfers and parents need to stand up and demand more from those that are tasked with the growth of the game and young players.  Yes, I’m calling out the club pros that represent both private and public courses.  Just for the record, I turned professional in the mid 90’s and did my time staring out the window wishing I was out there.  I have since moved on with life.  I post this so everyone knows there is a better way to do things if they would only try.  Here are a few of the problems and solutions that we have experienced.
  • It is ok to have a varsity team and a junior varsity team.  The kids can deal with the disappointment of not making the varsity team.  I have found that it makes players work harder to get better.  We had our first practice last week and I found out that a few of the players spent a bunch of the summer practicing and playing with the intent of playing on the varsity team.  The junior varsity team is designed to teach both skills and etiquette. Varsity is where you start to take things to the next level.  Get the player ready for high school.  Make the rules tighter but not so tight as to discourage the player.
  • Teach your team the importance of keeping score accurately.  I can not stress this enough.  If you are in grade 5th -8th, you can be taught how to keep score.  I posted something last year about kids that cheated and parents that allowed it to happen because they can’t say no to little Jimmy.  I started making my players keep score for themselves as well as their competitor.  Each player was given their own scorecard and told to keep score for everyone.  You would be surprised how quickly those that couldn’t keep score were able to remember correctly when confronted by a peer in a polite fashion.
  • Pair your best players with the other teams best players and send them out first.  Make sure they realize they are the rabbit group.  With a max stroke amount on each hole, the others should be able to keep up.  Coaches, you are doing no one any favors by pairing your player that shoots 55 for nine holes with a player that shoots 36.
  • This is a big one for varsity.  I can’t stress this enough.  DO NOT SEND THE PLAYERS OUT IN GROUPS OF 4!!!  I realize this is not always possible but it is most of the time.  If possible, send them out in 2’s or 3’s.  I started this and found that our time went from 3+ hour per 9 hole matches to 1 hour 40 minutes per round.  Why?  The players struggle with who plays first, what to do when someone loses a ball, marking balls on the green and so on.  The players learn in groups of 2 and carry it when they have to play with 3.  The players love it, the parents love it, and the courses/pros love it when they allow it (more on the course/pros in a bit).  We are losing golfers because 3 hour for 9 holes is too long for everyone.  The players have homework and the parents have other things to do.  Matches in high school are taking 3.5 hours!?!?  Our hope is that the speed will carry over to high school.
  • Talk to the course and find out where everyone is on the course.  We play in the early afternoon (when most matches are played at this level).  The courses are empty.  If you take some groups back a few holes and start them as you drop them off, they will finish early.  Think about this.  If we have groups start on #7, #8, #9, and #1, the course opens up when the leagues or other players hit hole number #7.  If you don’t do this, you have a bunch of players standing around waiting to tee off on #1 and the course is full the rest of the evening.  Even if you can only take 2 groups back to #9, do it.  They finish on #8.  When I suggested this to one of the pros, he became angry.  I had another that was great about the suggestion but it took a little bit of a debate before the light came on and he smiled.  We had a laugh after words when the matches were all completed in 1:50.
  • Don’t just play matches all year; throw in a few tournaments with trophies.  Yes, $35 for a few trophies is big for these kids.  I suggest 2 or 3 matches and then an event.  Treat matches as if they are preparing for the events.  Our players were so excited to play in their first tournament it was reported to me they couldn’t sleep the night before.  Try a scramble with 4 of the team players that earned their way onto the top 4 from play in the matches.  Tournaments take no more time and are fun for everyone.

This is a message for club pros, both public and private.  The game is dying.  It is in your hands and is your responsibility to keep it alive so my children and grandchildren can enjoy it long after I am gone.  We play at 7 different courses.  Only one of the pros agreed straight away with sending players as far back as possible.  I had another that didn’t have a single player on their course but still wouldn’t allow going back.  The other pros (all but 2) have come to appreciate the speed of play and clearing of the course.  I had another who disagreed with me about each player keeping score because of the cost of scorecards.  I told him we would copy a few if that was really the issue…he was also a coach!!  We play against a team and one of the fathers is a pro and assistant.  He wanted to play in 4’s because he said it allowed friends to play together.  I told him that weekends are for friends, matches are for winning.  Do you pros not understand that most of us that support the courses started when we were young?  These players are the next generation of players (and revenue) and should be treated as such.  This is not intended for all pros and most that I know work very hard to grow the game.  I thank each of you.  

I hope this helps if you are a coach or a parent.


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#2 leezer99

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 08:11 AM

View PostGolf31, on 04 August 2017 - 01:35 PM, said:


This is a big one for varsity.  I can’t stress this enough.  DO NOT SEND THE PLAYERS OUT IN GROUPS OF 4!!!  I realize this is not always possible but it is most of the time.  If possible, send them out in 2’s or 3’s.  I started this and found that our time went from 3+ hour per 9 hole matches to 1 hour 40 minutes per round.  Why?  The players struggle with who plays first, what to do when someone loses a ball, marking balls on the green and so on.  The players learn in groups of 2 and carry it when they have to play with 3.  The players love it, the parents love it, and the courses/pros love it when they allow it (more on the course/pros in a bit).  We are losing golfers because 3 hour for 9 holes is too long for everyone.  The players have homework and the parents have other things to do.  Matches in high school are taking 3.5 hours!?!?  Our hope is that the speed will carry over to high school.

This is very interesting.  I'm going to recommend this to the PGA pro that runs our junior tour... can't hurt to try!

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#3 rangersgoalie

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 03:15 AM

some of the tone seems to match the entitlement seen in many places these days.
Yes, the game needs players, and development of juniors is huge, but some of those pros just May be enforcing rules set up as part of their employment at the course that is hosting you.


One of the great things in golf, as you seem to be enforcing is playing by the rules.  Those rules also apply to be a gracious guest at the facility, and respecting any rules they may have.  

I played HS golf many moons ago.  We always played in foursomes, and never took three hours, unless we were waiting for groups ahead of us.  Seems an epidemic of people who can't seem to play at a decent pace these days!

If it fits the course, I agree with the idea of staggered starts.  Wouldn't work at my course, we dont  return to the clubhouse at nine, it is forever away, and we are pretty busy which would mean starting on 1,2,3  is not likely.

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#4 heavy_hitter

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 10:51 AM

Our local high schools have done what the OP mentioned for as long as I can remember.

Twosomes or Threesomes only.
Always shotgun starting from #8.

Makes things move quicker and everyone finishes about the same time.

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#5 cubuffs

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 06:46 AM

Thanks for taking the time to post and share - some very good perspective.  My son currently plays middle school golf - he is 12 and in 7th grade and I will share this with his coach and the head pro at the course they utilize.  Thankfully, they do leverage the a shotgun approach where players start on all 9 holes - outside of the benefit you mention where others aren't standing around waiting to tee off, it also creates a level of excitement with the players when everyone completes at roughly the same time and everyone is excited to see how their teammates did.


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#6 augustgolf

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 07:57 AM

I concur that something must be done to keep young golfers interested and filling the funnel for the future growth of the game.

But, if you have a 4 some of kids that take 3 hours to play nine holes....there is nothing wrong with the pro. There is something wrong with the kids.

I realize that my HS golf is way in the rear view mirror, but...we played a championship course that hosted a PGA Tour event as well as pre-qualifying for the Western Amateur. Walking as a 4-some took the least talented players only 2 hours.

Maybe you, as a coach, should have "that talk" with the youngsters that there is an appropriate amount of time to take to play, and 3 hours isn't it.

I realize that kids that are intereted in golf will watch golf on TV or online, and see how slow collegiate players play, as well as how long it takes on the PGA Tour at times, as well as the LPGA, Web.com, etc....but, there's nothing wrong with telling little Johnny and little Sally that 2 hours should be the max. Are/were you afraid to do so?

And, for the record, wherever I was the pro, I always tried to have a solid junior program, emphasizing not only how to play, but the etiquette, the rules, and the pace of play, as well as the respect for the course itself and others around you.

I believe that society itself today is to blame for much of the behavior that we see on the course, but....a person in position of authority, such as a coach and/or pro....should be able to institute in the juniors the fundamentals of how to behave correctly....on the course as well as off  of it.

I know that what I learned as a caddy has served me well in life....on and off of the course.

Just my 2 cents worth...thanks for your post, OP
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#7 Golf31

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 12:49 PM

I thought I would check back and see where this post went after a few weeks.  Let me respond to a couple things.

1.  "some of the tone seems to match the entitlement seen in many places these days.
I struggle to see a single word or idea that would point you in the direction of "entitlement".  Perhaps you should be a bit more specific.  The commissioner of the league spends a great deal of time working with the local courses to get times to play.  He works around the schedule of the course.  At that time he also works on prices for each player.  In other words, WE PAY THE COURSE TO PLAY.  The only other area that might lead you to "entitlement" is the idea of sending players back on the holes.  That is common sense.  Those that don't understand common sense decide to find fault on a different level.  

2.   "Maybe you, as a coach, should have "that talk" with the youngsters that there is an appropriate amount of time to take to play, and 3 hours isn't it.
So, you read the original post and conclude that I haven't had "that talk" after all of the areas of improvement I mentioned?  I assure you I have had the talk with my team,  As I stated, some of the other coaches and pros like doing things the old way.  They don't want to offend the kids.  My players move at warp speed and I'm proud of it.  Yes, we find ourselves waiting on several holes but not as many as you might think.  I realize you played many years ago but things have changed.  I don't know what happened to the kids of today (I sound really old...get off my lawn!!).  When I/we played, we moved it along just like you.  I think the post was mostly about speeding the game up for the younger generation.  I wish you could come out and join me for an event.  You would see what I'm talking about.  I notice some of the kids dress like some of the PGA stars.  They copy them in every way but the results.  The kids pre-shot routines take as much time as Jordan.  

We have had a few matches already this year.  I'm happy to report that we are playing 3 per without issue.  They learned from last year and those that are new followed the trend.  It can be done.  I will let those that care know how the season goes.

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#8 heavy_hitter

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 08:14 PM

View PostGolf31, on 08 September 2017 - 12:49 PM, said:

I thought I would check back and see where this post went after a few weeks.  Let me respond to a couple things.

1.  "some of the tone seems to match the entitlement seen in many places these days.
I struggle to see a single word or idea that would point you in the direction of "entitlement".  Perhaps you should be a bit more specific.  The commissioner of the league spends a great deal of time working with the local courses to get times to play.  He works around the schedule of the course.  At that time he also works on prices for each player.  In other words, WE PAY THE COURSE TO PLAY.  The only other area that might lead you to "entitlement" is the idea of sending players back on the holes.  That is common sense.  Those that don't understand common sense decide to find fault on a different level.  

2.   "Maybe you, as a coach, should have "that talk" with the youngsters that there is an appropriate amount of time to take to play, and 3 hours isn't it.
So, you read the original post and conclude that I haven't had "that talk" after all of the areas of improvement I mentioned?  I assure you I have had the talk with my team,  As I stated, some of the other coaches and pros like doing things the old way.  They don't want to offend the kids.  My players move at warp speed and I'm proud of it.  Yes, we find ourselves waiting on several holes but not as many as you might think.  I realize you played many years ago but things have changed.  I don't know what happened to the kids of today (I sound really old...get off my lawn!!).  When I/we played, we moved it along just like you.  I think the post was mostly about speeding the game up for the younger generation.  I wish you could come out and join me for an event.  You would see what I'm talking about.  I notice some of the kids dress like some of the PGA stars.  They copy them in every way but the results.  The kids pre-shot routines take as much time as Jordan.  

We have had a few matches already this year.  I'm happy to report that we are playing 3 per without issue.  They learned from last year and those that are new followed the trend.  It can be done.  I will let those that care know how the season goes.

I am coaching a middle school team.  Yeah, I got suckered in.  The first couple of groups go out and play 9 holes in threesomes in two hours no problem.  These guys go through routine, take a couple of practice swings and hit the ball.  What I notice is these kids play ready golf and understand how to maneuver around the course.  Two of these kids shoot right at Par while the others are mid 40's to 50 in these two groups. The last three groups are not fun to watch and we have to constantly move the kids along.  We show them how to maneuver and have to tell the to stop taking 10 practice swings.  To boot we have an 8 stroke limit and they still move miserably slow.   Middle school golf is middle school golf so we just hope the last 3 groups can get through 6 holes.

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