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Opinion & Analysis

5 things you should know before your college search

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What is a good result for the student-athlete? To find the right fit—a place where the student can blossom into a capable—confident young person with tools to become self-sustaining. This means graduating in four years, with at least a 3.5 (often a baseline requirement for grad school), with a group of people who have and will positively influence you.    

Here are 5 factors all student athlete’s should consider before their college search.

A note on academics

Much of the conversation today is generated around the idea “Yale or jail,” if I don’t go to a top-ranked school, then I am going to be a failure. This is utterly ridiculous. In fact, the reality is that most schools use a common core with many using very similar textbooks for classes like microeconomics or calculus I. No school has a magic recipe and your success academically has a lot more to do with your maturity or interest than the brand name of the school. 

The fact is that there are a ton of great schools. Instead of brand, students and their parents need to focus on answering the question: how do I want to spend my time in college to prepare for my career? The more clear the answer, the better and more enriching the experience will be. Hint: A couple of key ingredients are good baseline knowledge, learning to be successful, developing strong relationships with good mentors, having fun and gaining new experiences. 

D1 or broke

What if I told you that initial data suggests that D1 student-athletes rate their coaches worst and are less likely to play golf five years after college, would you believe me? Too much of junior golf revolves around the idea that it is a pathway to the PGA Tour. This is ridiculous.

Because of this narrative, kids are being driven from the game; They drop out of golf because it becomes clear that they will not be playing professional golf on the PGA Tour. To me, this is a shame and the result of poor messaging from adults. We need to redefine the goal of junior golf; college golf is a pathway to a great education and great job which will empower you to be a member of a nice club and play as much as you want. 

Recruiting is not fair

The fact is, college recruiting is not fair. Early specializers and early growers have a massive advantage. However, the race is long; early growers are NOT invincible, and where you go doesn’t determine your success. Students, especially boys, need to realize that when you grow might be the biggest factor in where they play college golf. However, they also need to realize that, by 22, everyone is going to likely be in their adult body and they can make great strides after physical maturity to close the gap (often catching early developers off guard). 

Should I get help? 

Knowledge begins when one learns doubt. In the world of college advising, I have considerable doubt. In my opinion, every “college golf expert” is a fraud—they hide behind a dogma of “I know X coach” or “X coach says.” However, they are not experts—they are charlatans. They use disinformation, particularly poorly correlated or small population “data,” to scare parents into a web of deceit. Their tools are resumes, randomness, and bulk emails to create the guise of “options.” “Options,” which more likely validate their fees than lead a student to a place where they will be happy and successful. 

A note on parents

Did you hear the sequel to “the Emperor’s New Clothes” is coming? Ya, this time he’s going to help his son get a full-ride scholarship to Stanford to play golf. Like in the original, the emperor is driven by greed and hubris. Don’t be the emperor; this is not about impressing your friends or validation your wealth. Make it about your child. Love and celebrate your child’s individual strengths. Push them to improve in different areas and put them on their own path to success. 

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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

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What makes a golf course ‘tough?’

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I found this past weekend’s golf to be some of the most entertaining and thought-provoking of the season. While the men of the PGA Tour found a challenging and tough Muirfield Village, the women of the LPGA were getting a taste of a true championship-caliber layout at Olympic Club, the sight of many historic U.S. Opens.

In both cases, the best players in the world found themselves up against courses that fought back against their extraordinary skills and talents. Though neither course appeared to present fairways that were ridiculously narrow, nor greens that were ultra-fast and diabolical, scoring was nowhere near the norms we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the professional tours.

So, that begs the question – what is it exactly that makes a course tough for these elite players? And is that any different from those things that make a course tough for the rest of us?

From my observation, the big difference for both the ladies and the men was the simple fact that Muirfield Village and Olympic shared the same traits – deep rough alongside each fairway, deep bunkers, and heavy rough around the greens. In other words — unlike most of the venues these pros face each week, those two tracks put up severe penalties for their not-so-good shots — and their awful ones.

Setting aside the unfortunate turn of events for John Rahm – who appeared to be playing a different game for the first three days – only 18 of the best male players in the game managed to finish under par at Muirfield Village. That course offered up measurable penalties for missed fairways and greens, as it was nearly impossible to earn a GIR from the rough, and those magical short games were compromised a lot – Colin Morikawa even whiffed a short chip shot because the gnarly lie forced him to try to get “cute” with his first attempt. If you didn’t see it, he laid a sand wedge wide open and slid it completely under the ball — it didn’t move at all!

On the ladies’ side, these elite players were also challenged at the highest level, with errant drives often totally preventing a shot that had a chance of holding the green — or even reaching it. And the greenside rough and deep bunkers of Olympic Club somewhat neutralized their highly refined greenside scoring skills.

So, the take-away from both tournaments is the same, the way I see it.

If a course is set up to more severely penalize the poor drives and approaches — of which there are many by these players — and to make their magical short game skills more human-like, you will see these elite players struggle more like the rest of us.

So, I suggest all of you think about your last few rounds and see what makes your course(s) play tough. Does it penalize your not-so-good drives by making a GIR almost impossible, or is it too challenging around the greens for your scoring skills? Maybe the greens are so fast and diabolical that you don’t get as much out of your putting as you think you should? Or something else entirely?

My bet is that a thoughtful reflection on your last few rounds will guide you to what you should be working on as you come into the peak of the 2021 golf season.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: My 3-wood search, Mizuno ST-Z driver, and Srixon divide golf ball review

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I am on the search for a 3-wood this year and talk a little about my top 3 that I have been hitting. Hit on the pros and cons of each option and what might be in the bag next week. The Mizuno ST-Z was on the course and a really good driver for players who want forgiveness but don’t need any draw bias. The Srixon Q-Star Tour Divide is a cool 2-tone ball that makes short game practice more interesting.

 

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How to turn technical thinking into task-based think in your golf game

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The mind can only be in one place at a time at 40 bits of information per second. To build a golf swing this way would be like an ant building New York City this way: a most impossible task. When you are task-based you are using the human self-preserving system, that works at 40 million bits per second, choose wisely.

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