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Opinion & Analysis

Should high school golf performance matter more to college coaches?

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Recently, I was at a college, speaking to a coach and asked him a question: How much do you follow high school golf compared to major junior golf tours? The coach didn’t hesitate and responded by saying that he really didn’t consider high school golf almost at all while he considered two-day tournaments on major junior tours important.

Not surprising. But is this a good assumption?

To start, I did a survey via Facebook in which I invited college coaches to respond to three questions about high school golf. They were

  • Is high school golf an important part of development for junior golfers?
  • Do you seriously consider high school golf as part of the recruitment process?
  • Will you attend at least one of your high school state tournaments this year?
  • Would you encourage a player, who is not recruited, to participate in high school golf?

In 24 hours, 86 coaches responded to the survey. Here are the results

  • 60 percent of coaches thought that high school golf was an important part of development
  • Only 37 percent of coaches considered high school golf as part of the recruitment process
  • 70 percent of coaches will attend at least one high school state tournament this year
  • 87 percent of coaches encourage a player, who is not recruited, to participate in high school golf
    Next, with the help of National High School Golf Association (NHSGA), I wated to check out the numbers; what is the REAL quality of high school golf?

After an extensive search and examination of the data between 2016-2018 found:

  • Based on 487 results, 71.2 is the average score for a boy’s high school state champion
  • Based on 342 results, 74.7 is the average score for a girl’s high school golf champion
  • The lowest scoring differential for a boy’s high school event was Logan Mccalister from Oklahoma with -19.5 in 2015/16 when we shot 62,66,66
  • The lowest girl’s scoring differential for a girl’s high school event was Sophia Yoeman from Minnesota with -13.21 (63,66)
  • The lowest single round by a boy was Frankie Capan in 2017/18 – 59 at the par 70, Tucson National from 6,382 yards
  • The lowest single round by a girl was Sophie Yoeman with 63 at Sand Creek in Jordan, MN a par 72 measuring 5,463 yards

When reviewing this information, keep in mind that while the average winning score in AJGA Open events is close to 69 for boys and girls, the average winning scores in AJGA previews for boys was 72.81 from 6,484 and 75.6 from 5,610. Based on this data, it means that the high school state tournament is comparable to somewhere between an AJGA Open and a Preview, with scores better than a Preview but not quite as good as an Open.

For the first time ever this summer, there will be a National High School Invitational. The event, hosted by the National High School Golf Association, will be held June 26-28th at The Disney Golf Resort and Falcon’s Fire Golf Club in Orlando featuring 124 girls and 224 boys.

To receive an invitation to the event, a player or team must win their state championship golf tournament. 2019 will mark the inaugural NHSGA Invitational Tournament.

“It’s exciting to bring together the best high school golfers from across the country for a single tournament. All players in the tournament will represent their state, not their division or their school. Public or private. Large or small. This event will bring together a diverse, talented group of champion caliber golfers and give high school golfers a chance to showcase their talents on a national stage. It’s about time high school golf gets some love!” said Chris Noble from the NHSGA.

Without a doubt, high school golf lacks the sexiness of other organizations. In my experience the rounds are very long, there are no snacks and often the courses are, well not the best. These are three things that certainly make high school golf challenging, however it has one good thing going: it is completely inclusive. High school golf is not perfect, but in my opinion and based on the numbers, I think that junior golfers and college coaches should consider the numbers and ask themselves, is high school golf more important than I previously thought?

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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

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jason Black

    Nov 5, 2018 at 9:56 am

    What level of coaches responded to this? I would be that NAIA and DIII coaches would look more at high school tournaments then the others or they use a recruiting site.

  2. Ronald Montesano

    Nov 5, 2018 at 5:44 am

    If your intent was to give a data series that doesn’t take into account the camaraderie, maturation, and pride elements of high school golf, you succeeded. All that you listed, is available in Junior Tour events. High school golf is about so much more than the numbers. A valuable study might have included asking college coaches one question: does team coalescence matter in high-stakes college golf? If the answer is year, follow it with this one: do you actively recruit team golfers, or individual star, hoping that one way or another, they will gel? Read Don Crosby’s book “Tiger Woods made me look like a genius,” to get an idea of how the great one impacted, and was impacted by, high school golf. Crosby was Woods’ high school coach.

  3. Red Wing for Life!!

    Nov 4, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Love that Sophie and Frankie are from MN. Way to represent the north! I went to high school with Sophie and she is an awesome person and player.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Setting goals…and achieving them

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Well, here we are, diving right into the new year of 2022 and seeing where this crazy world is going to take us now. I think we will all admit that the past two years have been a bit crazy, with the arrival of COVID changing everything in ways we would never have imagined at this time two years ago. Regardless of your personal thoughts, ideals and emotions about how it has been handled, it’s been crazy, right?

But that’s not what this column is all about. Today I want to offer some thoughts on how to set your own goals for your own golf this year, and then some ideas on how to make those goals a reality.

If your golf – and getting better at it – is important to you, there is no time like right now to decide what you want to do to achieve that objective. Are you willing to spend the time and energy to work on major swing improvements? Or do you just want to try to score better with a minimal amount of time and energy you have for practice and work?

Are you living where you can still get out to the range or course frequently? Or are you stuck inside for another few months until Spring begins to show? Do you have the desire to invest in instructional assistance, or do you pretty much want to do it yourself?

All these are important questions to answer as you decide your goals for 2022. For today, I’m going to address three ways I believe any golfer can improve their scoring measurably in 2022, regardless of how you might answer these questions I’ve posed. You can decide which of these would have the most impact you your golf as you kick off 2022.

IMPROVE YOUR PUTTING

Regardless of your handicap, a great percentage of your shots are taken with that one club. So, if there is any one part of your game that should get the most attention and work, it should be your putting. Begin by analyzing your own putting performance. Do you three-putt too often? If so, is that because your lag putting distance control is off, or your make percentage of short putts is not as good as it could be? Or do you just not convert enough 5-15 footers?

Putter fitting has become much more advanced these days and is usually worth the investment. You might find that the putter itself is ill-suited to your personal tendencies in the stroke and alignment.
If your mechanics are not reliable, an investment in a good putting mat and a few hours a week will offer huge returns, both in short putts made and improving your conversion of more of those 5-15 footers.

HONE YOUR SHORT GAME

Next to putting, you are likely taking more shots inside 50 yards than anywhere else. Even if you are a GIR machine (and few golfers are), those missed greens are what run up your scores. I see so many recreational golfers who just do not have a sound and repeatable technique around the greens, and that costs them with chunks and skulls that run up scores quickly.

I cannot “teach” the short game here, but there are so many good YouTube videos and books/tapes on the subject, you have no excuse to have a poor technique around the greens. Spend some time studying and learning, and practicing in your basement, den or office. It’s a short swing that anyone can execute – but it takes work. And that work will pay huge dividends.

SHARPEN YOUR MENTAL GAME

Regardless of handicap, I believe many bad shots are ‘pre-ordained’ by a poor mental approach. Many golfers do not get their mind right about what exactly they want to do with any given shot. And very few have a set pre-shot routine that gets their mind right so their body can execute the shot. On the course, it is unproductive to try to process swing thoughts; or at least more than one simple one.

When you are facing a shot, you should have a clear picture of what you want the ball to do and a clear mind to get out of your body’s way of trying to execute that vision. The great book and movie “Golf’s Sacred Journey”, but Dr. David Cook, nails it – “See it. Feel it. Trust it.”

I feel certain that one of these three areas of attention can help nearly every one of you improve your golf in 2022. And I hope to be able to offer you more insight and guidance in that endeavor as I write each week. Let me know if you have subjects you would like me to address, OK?

Let’s do this together.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Review of Fujikura’s Ventus Blue TR shaft and new Cobra LTDx drivers

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Fujikura has a new Ventus TR shaft out and it seems to fit right in between the Ventus Blue and Ventus Black. A Slightly stiffer profile and handle section seem to make a tighter and more stable shaft. Cobra has 3 new drivers out for 2022 and I think they are going to do very well. Great ball speed and stability on mishits keep the ball in play.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 American Express: Best prop bets

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Alongside Matt Vincenzi’s chief betting article, here I breakdown this week’s best side bets for the American Express.

 2022 American Express best props

Lucas Glover Top-20 +400

The 2009 U.S open winner has certainly has had his trials and tribulations both on and off the course, but he looked in good shape when finishing in fifth place at the Sony last week and can put up a similar display this week.

When winning the John Deere last year, the 42-year-old broke a 10-year losing streak, and came via a closing best-of-the-day 64 and a tournament ranking of 3rd and 4th for strokes-gained-approach and tee-to-green.

Nothing much changes for Glover in that regard, and it was good to see him return to that standard of play at Waialae when leading the approach stats and ranking second in tee to the short stuff. That he was 30th off-the-tee gives a further boost to his iron game at present and he showed last year that he can keep the game going when finding form – T21/T0/T21/T23 – through the Charles Schwab, RBC Heritage, Travelers and Rocket Mortgage, at least two of those courses with a correlation to this week’s test.

A couple of top-six finishes at The Players show a further liking for Pete Dye designs, and whilst he will never win the prize for best putter, 2016 winner Jason Dufner showed that a solid tee-to-green game can keep you in contention, whilst they both have form at Colonial and at Sawgrass.

Glover’s first four starts here yielded two top-20 and one top-30 finish, whilst I’ll ignore the two recent missed-cuts given they were his first outing of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The vast majority of winners have played at least two recent competitive rounds before coming to the American Express (and its various guises) and Glover can take encouragement from the vast progress made when down the field at Maui.

Russell Knox Top 20/Top 40 +300 +130

The Scotsman is another that fits with the Dufner/Glover/Henley genre of player.

With an always impressive iron game, it is always encouraging to see players rank highly in approach and greens-in-regulation even if finishing lower than their overall game warranted.

Take, for example, 2021 finishes of 40th and 58th at the RSM and Fortinet. At both, he ranked top-10 for finding the short stuff and continued that form with the irons at last week’s Sony Open, where he ranked 4th for greens, 10th in approach and 8th for overall tee-to-green.

One swallow doth not make a Summer and all that, but he ranked 7th in putting average and inside the top-30 for strokes-gained-putting, a figure that will certainly help him gain his fourth consecutive top-40 here in as many starts.

Alongside finishes of 29th and 37th at this event Knox can also boast a couple of top-20 finishes, the latest 16th a figure that should have been better given a final round 73, he has a win at the Pete Dye River Highlands, and high finishes at Colonial, Harbour Town and Scottsdale.

After a 12-birdie weekend, he comes here in the form that makes me believe anything better than field average on the greens will land the bet.

Luke List Top 10/Top 20 +550/+250

It’s a trio of excellent tee-to-green players this week, and whilst here is another player that often lets himself down with the putter, the case for him to do well is strong enough to make him my play of the week.

Start with his current form, which reads 7th at the Zozo, 11th at Houston and 10th at the Sea Island course. We don’t have full stats for the first-named, but, at the other two, the 37-year-old has ranked top four off-the-tee, and 12th and 17th for approaches, figures that combine to give a ranking of top-four at both for tee-to-green. Also worth noting is that, at both, Luke was inside the top-10 going into Sunday.

That isn’t unusual for the former U.S Amateur runner-up, and once again, it has been the short stick that has let him down. However, rather like the two players above, List should only need to be field average in putting to put up a good show at a course at which he has a best finish of 6th in 2016 and a 21st last year, when a final round 72 saw him fall from an overnight 13th.

List also carries some of the most guarded Pete Dye form, his last win in 2020 being at TPC Sawgrass at Dye’s Valley Course, whilst in 2012 he won his first Korn Ferry event at the South Georgia Classic.

That event was held, until 2014, at Kinderlou Forest on a course designed by Davis Love III, a player that thrived on Dye courses, winning The Players on two occasions and at Harbour Town a total of five times.

Take a deeper dive into a few of the top two finishers at the Georgia track and Brian Stuard, Will Wilcox, Blayne Barber and runner-up Alex Prugh all have form at one or two of either The Heritage, Pheonix, Sawgrass, River Highlands and here at the Bob Hope, as it once was.

In an event that has seen many shocks, and that might be subject to the weather as they rotate around the three courses, I’m happy to be with a player with far more current positives than many at a shorter price.

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