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Playing Up


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#1 Pinewood Golfer

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 04:29 PM

I'm sure this has been discussed on here, but my question is specific to my son's situation--and I'd like some advice.

We live in Central Mississippi and the opportunities for competitive golf in our general area are much more limited than in more densely populated areas (especially in the south).  In our area, we basically have two options for non-overnight travel competitions.  We have a US Kids Golf Local Tour and we have the MS Jr Golf Association and their events.  Next season, my son will be 10 years old so he will obviously compete as a 10 year old on the US Kids local tour, since you can't play up.  The yardage jump (1,900 to 2,400) from 9 to 10 is a large one, but one my son should handle it fine, and he'll continue to play 9-hole rounds with US Kids local.  To date there is no one that has shown up on the local tour in his age division that can push him at all.  He's won every event he's entered with the smallest margin being 10 strokes.  Presumably that will look similar next season as well, although admittedly, things change and kids get better.

On the MJGA, the 10-11 year olds play 9 holes from the forward tees which averages about 2,650 yards (as low as 2,500, as high as 2,800).  This is a no caddie division (which I'm cool with).  Unless someone emerges in the future, there is no one in this division that will push him (similar to US Kids).

The alternative would be to play him in the 12-13 division of the MJGA.  They play 18 hole rounds, which he can handle, and they play from the second tee, which averages 5,800 yards for 18 holes (5,600 low end and 6,100 high end).  He won't be ready to win these events in all likelihood, but he won't embarrass himself either.  As a 9 year old, his skill would have placed him somewhere between the top of the bottom half and the middle of the bottom half.  Presumably, as a 10 year old, he'll be better and could compete in the top half to top 1/3.

The thoughts I'm considering but don't know how to prioritize:
  • More kids compete in the 12-13 so you never deal with 1, 2 or 3 kid fields
  • He showed at the US Kids Worlds that he can easily handle 18 holes over multiple days and I think it's good to begin doing that
  • He will still get to experience winning at the US Kids local level
  • The US Kids yardages are as short as he'll get so as far as learning to "go low" it will happen on US Kids before it would 10-11 MJGA anyway.
  • He currently drives the ball about 170 on average (150-190), and hits a 7-iron 110, so 5,800/5,900 yards is a reach.  If he played that today, he'd be shooting high 80's/low 90's I'd guess
  • Finishing top 4 in the 10-11 age division affords some additional opportunities to play team events representing MS versus other nearby states (same goes for 12-13, but probably a stretch to finish there).
  • I've heard multiple parents of D1 golfers around here talk about how beneficial it was for their kids when they started playing up
  • He can handle it from a maturity perspective.  He played on PGA Jr League all star teams as an 8 year old last year and again this year with teammates that are mostly 12/13.
Our 2018 MJGA season actually begins with an event in October.  Obviously I could play him in the 10-11 in October and move him up if I decided to when the summer events begin rolling around, but I'm curious to hear the opinions of others.  My lean is to see if he picks up another 15-20 yards on driver distance the next 8 months and decide then.  If he's hitting it close to 200 on average then, to me, it starts to become a no brainer.


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#2 tiger1873

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 04:33 PM

I think it sounds like he need to play up just set expectations. Also do not expect him to score well or even be close to the kids at first. It worry about high tournaments he needs to learn to win from the new distance.

Also if you dominate your competition in a age group you need to age up to increase the challenge. The goal should be able to get them play 18 holes without a caddy as soon as possible. The sooner your a spectator the better. That being said your going to need to caddy until there old enough.

I aged up my daughter and never looked back at 9. She really likes the added competition and challenge. For her the issue was the yardage made her really frustrated. She could not use her driver because they only were 80 yards on most holes.

Edited by tiger1873, 09 August 2017 - 04:36 PM.


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#3 heavy_hitter

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 07:19 PM

I think there is a big difference with guys and girls.  Girls I think if they are competitive they need to move up.  Guys I think it is better to be the big fish in the little pond not the little fish in the big pond.

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#4 tiger1873

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 11:32 PM

View Postheavy_hitter, on 09 August 2017 - 07:19 PM, said:

I think there is a big difference with guys and girls.  Girls I think if they are competitive they need to move up.  Guys I think it is better to be the big fish in the little pond not the little fish in the big pond.

The biggest difference I see is with boys is it is a lot harder competition at all levels. Having said that if you are winning low level tournaments with not many competitors then moving up makes sense.

Unless the tournament is a qualifier for something else (like us kids tours)my thought is you should not go in knowing your going to blow away your competitors before your start. It should be a challenge and not just an automatic win.

The only time that makes sense is if your already a pro or a very high level junior and making tons of money.

Edited by tiger1873, 09 August 2017 - 11:36 PM.


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#5 GCS

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 07:09 AM

Your MJGA tour sounds very similar to what my son plays. We were faced with the same situation last season when we was 9. Out tour has a move up policy after two wins. My son won the first two 9-11 tournaments. With the move up policy we had two options, he could remain in the 9-11 division ( 9 holes, forward tees) and play as a marker for two tournaments or he could play 11-13 (18 holes, middle tees). I gave him the choice and chose to play up. When he eligible to back to 9-11 I again gave him the choice and he wanted to stick with the 11-13 division and finished the season very strong. My suggestion is to play up for a couple of tournaments and throw any expectations out the window.


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#6 Sling

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 01:40 PM

In my experience do not play up. My son wanted to play with the big kids from 10 years old given he could hit the ball a long way and was big and mature for his age. The kids he was playing against in the younger divisions back then, 6 years ago, are now in the top 50 in the AJGA rankings while he has only now, this summer, started winning things or placing well. Shooting in the 80s did him no favors whatsoever.

Let your guy beat up on people and get used to scoring low because that is what will stand him in good stead in the future, knowing how to win or knowing that you can shoot 32 on the back nine to make up ground lost is the most important thing. He will be 16 soon enough playing on courses at 7,000 yards.

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#7 Pinewood Golfer

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 07:51 AM

View Postheavy_hitter, on 09 August 2017 - 07:19 PM, said:

I think there is a big difference with guys and girls.  Girls I think if they are competitive they need to move up.  Guys I think it is better to be the big fish in the little pond not the little fish in the big pond.

I agree with the idea of being a big fish in a little pond.  What I'm struggling with is if it makes sense to be the same big fish in two ponds that are pretty similar.

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#8 Pinewood Golfer

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 07:55 AM

View PostGCS, on 15 August 2017 - 07:09 AM, said:

Your MJGA tour sounds very similar to what my son plays. We were faced with the same situation last season when we was 9. Out tour has a move up policy after two wins. My son won the first two 9-11 tournaments. With the move up policy we had two options, he could remain in the 9-11 division ( 9 holes, forward tees) and play as a marker for two tournaments or he could play 11-13 (18 holes, middle tees). I gave him the choice and chose to play up. When he eligible to back to 9-11 I again gave him the choice and he wanted to stick with the 11-13 division and finished the season very strong. My suggestion is to play up for a couple of tournaments and throw any expectations out the window.

That's good to hear.  Only thing that would be different in our situation is that he wouldn't be eligible to drop back down until the following year.  In other words, once you play up, you're kind of stuck there.  There is one MJGA tournament at the beginning of the season that's 18 hole rounds from pretty long even for the 10-11 year olds.  I may let him play that one then make the decision based on those results.  Because, as another poster said, moving up just for the sake of it and shooting really high scores isn't worth it.

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#9 tiger1873

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 10:13 AM

The question on you should age up or not depends on your area.  For us we have a lot different options. Local PGA aging up gives more tournaments and better courses. If we want to drop back yardage we can play US kids tournaments.  For us there are always at least 5 or 6 girls competing and many of them are better players.

The sooner they can play 18 holes the better. Even for girls it very competitive at 11 years old the kids are breaking 80 at women's tee's. The competition is pretty strong here My daughter at 10 can drive over 200 yards on average. It sounds pretty impressive until you realize  there are 5 or 6 other 10 year old girls who play tournaments doing the same thing.  So it very hard to stand out in this area.

Edited by tiger1873, 17 August 2017 - 10:14 AM.


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