GoAromando, on 24 April 2013 - 12:56 PM, said:
@ dpb5031 - You have started a GREAT topic. As the 2013 season is starting I look forward to seeing people actively discussing Junior Girls Golf.
A little about my daughter, Grace (5th Grade - Turned 11 last month): She 1st started hitting balls on the range when she was 3 yrs old (US Kids "Red" set). When she could hit the ball consistently and understood the basic rules of golf, we started playing par 3 courses (4 yrs old). We she turned 5 she played her 1st tournament (US Kids Qualifier), but missed the scoring requirement by 2 strokes (she was just playing for fun, we didn't know much about US Kids). Our local PGA Junior program, then let kids start @ 6 yrs old.
Age 6 to 7 yrs old she played in the "Mini-9" tournaments (Par 3 & executive courses). She placed 1st or 2nd in all of them.
Age 8 she played the 9-Hole tournaments (Women's Tees) with the 10-12 yr olds and won consistently, including the tour championship.
Age 9 she moved up to 18 holes tournaments (Women's Tees) in the 12-14 age group, consistently placing 1st or 2nd.
Age 10 yrs old she played a mix of 18 Hole tournaments 12-14 yr olds (Women's Tees) & Multi-Day tournaments with 12-18 yr olds (5900 to 6300 yrds). Women's tees tournaments 1st in all - some by 10+ strokes. She played 3 Multi-Day tournaments, 8th of 20 @ 6300 yrds (1st time playing this distance), 1st 5900 yrs, 2nd 5900 yrds. Qualified for the Optimist International (wonderful tournament & org)
Age 11 (now), She has set her goals high for the year: Qualify for the Optimist International & place in the top 5, get her handicap to a 4 (currently 8.6), Skill-wise - keeps putts to around 30; Drives - she keeps up with the high school girls - fairways 80%+ - averages 210 on our soft-flat fairways - Course Management - avoids trouble - doesn't take low % shots.
When she plays with our friends & family or girls in tournaments under 14 yrs old she will consistently shoot high 70s to low 80s from 6000 yrs. After good results last year, she decided to focus on Multi-Day 6000 yard tournaments. This has her playing with girls 15-18 yrs old this year. The 1st tournament last week she hit the ball beautifully, out drove her playing partners both days, had similar GIRs, but putting was very bad (50ish per round). Finished 6th of 10, but shot 15 to 20 strokes over her normal average.
My first instinct was to blame the results on her putting preparation over the winter. After talk with her and consoling her (lot of crying), she point out how nervous & intimidated she is playing with High School Junior & Seniors. (They looking adults to her & many don't even talk to her) This revelation got me to reflect on the spring tournaments she played in the past few years. She seemed to have slow starts, we normally chalked it up to getting new clubs over the winter (This year she switch last fall to prevent this) & having little time to play & practice during Jan & Feb (She practiced consistently through the winter - heated range). I realized every spring the older high school girls come out and played in the one day 18-Hole events to get ready for the summer tournaments. I think this could be the real issue with the nerves & stress manifesting itself in her putting & short game.
This year her plans will have her playing with the 15-18 yr olds 90% of the time. Do I help her though this by continuing to play the older tournaments? Working to improve her mental side & building confidence in her putting to withstand the stresses. Or keep her playing with the younger girls she where she consistently wins?
I look forward to your Opinions & Advise.
Thanks for starting this thread back up. The junior girl's golf world is so entirely different than junior boys, largely because it is a much smaller community. If a girl is talented and advanced at age 11 or 12 (like Grace), it is going to be very hard to find decent competition in most local events. This is why I think it is very important to try to make it to the Optimist, US Kids Worlds and Regionals, Callaway Worlds, etc. At the big tournaments your advanced junior girl will get to play against kids her own age. In my daughters case (she's 14 now), it was as much about making friends and enjoying the experience as it was the competition.
There seems to be this "no man's land" in the junior girl's golf world for talented kids between 11 and 14. Most are not quite ready to compete against the older girls, and the local US kids stuff and other junior events lack competition and are not challenging enough. I think this is why the AJGA created their Junior Allstar Series. I still contend that every kid is different though, so there is no perfect way to go about things.
We are ramping up for the season now and have a tentatively planned schedule. My daughter is the leading scorer on her middle school lacrosse team, so unfortunately there is little time for golf during the week. She played in one IJGT so far and was the youngest in the field again. She actually hit the ball great (12 GIRs in round #1), but lost her confidence early with the putter (very tough greens) and had 42 putts. The second round was similar and she ended up 5th out of about 14, with most of the girls being high school juniors and seniors. Funny thing is last year at 13 she won the same event against a deeper field (20 girls) and her chipping and putting is what got her the win. Improvement in golf certainly is not linear, especially with kids.
I am hoping that my daughter chooses to play on the golf team next year when she gets to high school instead of lacrosse, but I am not pushing it and have told her that it is her decision. She just really loves the team camaraderie of lacrosse, and being her teams best player, I think she likes the attention. The HS doesn't have a girls golf team, so she will have to play on the boys team, which is another issue.
Anyway, thanks for posting. Let's try to keep this thread alive. I love hearing updates on the kid's progress!