Archive for July, 2015

Junior Golf: Embrace the Change in Your Child’s Path

imageIn today’s Friday Flop Shot we will look at how to embrace the change in your child’s path. Yes, her path will change and you should expect change, embrace it and adapt to it. (photo by offcoursegolf.com)

Paths in life are not straight lines, so why would we expect a junior golf path to be any different? Curves in the path are inevitable and change is good although at times it is uncomfortable at best. Some curves will be pleasant, some will be difficult to understand and some will test you and your junior golfer’s patience to the extreme.

Having a solid relationship with your child is key to recognizing change, figuring out what is going on and implementing a positive solution in order to move forward. Some change is obvious. She grew 2 inches and the golf shoes don’t fit, her clothes are too small and her clubs are too short.

Emotional change can be tricky to see and complicated to refocus. The causes are many, ranging from hormone/puberty issues, school issues, relationship issues, poor diet and more. Getting back on track in dealing with emotional issues can be really difficult and this is not the time to go deeper into it.image

Physical issues can be more than just growing a few inches taller. Shin splints, ingrown toenails, tendonitis and headaches are common as kids grow up. And athletes tend to downplay these as they want to continue practicing and playing their game and they may not want to seem like a wimp. Side effects from prescription medications can be unhelpful for athletic activity. Proper hydration and nutrition will help maximize results during practice and play.

Have your daughter’s eyes checked regularly. We personally know of several excellent junior golfers who kept making uncharacteristic mistakes, particularly around the green. They all needed some vision correction, amazing! (photo from fit2score.com)

Anticipate curves in the path. Have some idea of action to take depending on what causes the curve. Above all be encouraging and positive. This is all part of junior golf life.

See you on #1 tee…and I expect everyone to have a great attitude… Sam.

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Junior Golf: How to Use Your Junior Golfer’s Unique Path

imageIn this Wednesday Waggle, we will learn how to start using your junior golfer’s unique path. This enables parents to help their young golfers advance their skills in a more effective and efficient manner. (Jason Duffner photo from golf digest.com)

Hints for parents:
1. recognize and accept the fact that your kiddo has a path in his golf game that is different from everybody else’s path
2. get over the fact that he is not winning or placing in the Top 10 in his events
3. make a weekly schedule for practice and play
4. be an encourager, remove negatives from your speech and actions
5. be the parent. For a while, at least, you will be the one initiating golf activities
6. he will have his own pace of learning and it will vary, sometimes quicker, sometimes slower

As you watch your junior golfer grow into his game, some things will become readily apparent, such as strengths and weaknesses. Break down his game into segments like: fairways hit, greens in regulation, chips, putts and sand trap skills.image

Tournament play will reveal some interesting comparisons on where he stands relative to his age group. There is every reason to expect your child to be competitive with other boys his age. And as his game improves, he will move up in the standings. You will see a little bit of everything during competition. Some kids are robots and hit every fairway, others seem to always chip their ball within a foot of the cup, someone else is making virtually every putt…it’s crazy! (photo from 1.bp.blog.com)

Learn from what you see so you can identify your son’s strengths and weaknesses and get to work on making the weakness a strength. Always remember, the quickest way to lower his strokes is by improving his chipping and putting, period.

Now you have an idea of what your junior golfer’s path looks like, how long it takes him to learn or improve skills and how he uses those skills in competition. Now we’re getting somewhere!

Please keep in mind, all paths have curves! See you on #1 tee… Sam

Junior Golf: Maximize Your Child’s Unique Path

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan will we look at your child’s unique junior golf path and how to maximize it. Your junior golfer’s path is specific to him and once you grasp, understand and accept it, you can work together to maximize and structure the plan to get the best benefits. (photo from jennlefforge.com)

So how do you figure out what his path is? Just as his overall path for life is a one-of-a-kind for him, it’s the same for junior golf. Every youngster will have his own sequence of events:
what age did he begin playing golf, how quick does his skill level advance, when did he start playing tournaments, is he competitive with other players his age, did he make the junior high team, did he make the high school team, does he want to play college golf and virtually every aspect of his golf life.

Let’s use S3 as an example. He started playing golf at age 5. We did something golf-related several times a week. Tournament play began as soon as he reached the minimum age, 7-years old, as a rule, here in Central Texas, sometimes younger. He was always competitive with the better players in his age group and won some tournaments in his pre-teen years. The school district had no junior golf program, but there were still plenty of tournaments and competition. And he was All-District in high school all 4 years. College golf was a goal from the very first days of his pursuit of the game. Our son will begin his senior year on the Texas A&M International University golf team. His college golf experience has been beyond anything he or Dad and Mom could have ever imagined. We are huge proponents of college golf and encourage all parents and their junior golfers to include this option in their path. (photo from blogs.desmoinesregister.com)image

Everybody has a path of their own. For today’s reference, let’s talk about the 2015 Open Champion, Zach Johnson. We’re using Zach’s career because he is one the top PGA pros whose junior golf career, according to Sir Nick Faldo, was OK, but was not at the “Phenom” level. Please keep in mind that approximately 85% of PGA/LPGA Tour players are folks who have worked long and hard on their skills to be able to join these exclusive Tours. That leaves about 15% for the obvious “Phenoms”, such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

Please know the odds are that you will have a hard worker rather than a phenom. Be excited that you have a kiddo that loves this great game. Avoid phenom or hard worker and focus on helping your junior golfer improve his game.

See you on #1 tee… Sam

Junior Golf: St. Andrew’s Ultimate Lesson

imageIn today’s Friday Flop Shot we will look at the Ultimate Lesson from St. Andrews and this year’s Open Championship and put it in a junior golf perspective. So what on earth is the Ultimate Lesson we take from last week’s major championship? (photo from offcoursegolf.com)

It is learning how to win and how to lose with grace. Often we tell our kids that although losing can be painful and very tough, it is important to be decent and polite, even though you did not take 1st place. While being a good loser is frowned upon by some and they think everyone who ends up in 2nd place or lower should be mad or disrespect the winner. We disagree.

There is losing, where your child makes unforced errors and ends up being out of the running. And there is plain old just getting beat, where someone makes better shots and has a lower score. The response although difficult should be the same. Congratulate the winner and move on. This is not the last round of golf to be played. And whether your youngster lost or got beat, depending on her age, it may be hard for her to differentiate between the two. Doesn’t really matter as a serious golfer should always be seeking to improve her game.

Zach Johnson won The Open Championship with humility and grace. He played better than everyone else. His emotional press conference was a classic in how to gracefully and respectfully respond to winning a huge event. He gave God praise and thanks for his talent, he said the win would not define him, but his family and kids would. A class act, congratulations Zach!

And Jordan Spieth, who was certainly shocked when he saw his approach shot on the last hole land near the pin and then spin back some 20 feet, off the green. His birdie putt, to make the playoff, was hole high and an inch or 2 left of the cup. A good effort, just not good enough this time. Most players, once they see they are not in the playoff, head straight for the airport and get out of Dodge. Not Jordan. He followed the guys in the playoff, stayed to congratulate Zach on his win and even drank out of the Claret Jug. Nothing but class! (photo from usatftw.files.wordpress.com)

imageS3 is 4 and 1 in playoffs and the 1 defeat is from his opponent making a birdie on the 1st playoff hole. S3 was disappointed, but played well enough to make the playoff and he just got beat, period. So he sincerely congratulated the winner, accepted the 2nd place trophy and then we went home. A decent day really.

Golf tournaments at any level are hard to win so when your junior golfer is seriously contending with a few holes left, they really want to win. Different kinds of pressure show up in these instances and can make those last few holes very challenging. And winning is more fun than losing, but she needs to respond properly in either case.

Remind her that she will have many more golf tournaments and encourage her to keep improving her skills.

See you on #1 tee…with a smile on her face… Sam

Junior Golf: Amazing Finish at The Open Championship

imageWhat a day of golf Monday at the final round of The Open Championship! Today in our Wednesday Waggle, we’ll look at the amazing finish to this season’s 3rd major championship. (photo from golfdigest.com)

I hope you and your junior golfer were enjoying the action as much as we were. There was a little of everything during the day: rain, wind, light winds, strong winds and damp chilly conditions overall.

And the golfers adjusted beautifully. As the day went along, the number of guys with a chance to win kept dropping until with the last group teeing off on #16, there were realistically 5 players who could be in a playoff.

Zach Johnson was in the clubhouse at 15-under. Mark Leishmann was 16-under but bogied to drop to 15-under. Louie Oosthuizen was all around the 15-under number which is where he finished. And Jordan Spieth made an incredible putt on #16 to get to 15-under, then bogied 17 and failed to make birdie on 18 to join the playoff. Jason Day, playing with Spieth was close to the lead all day, but never got to the top of the board.

imageSo the great shots, the less than great shots, the putts that went in and the putts that missed all added up to Zach, Louie and Mark going into a playoff, which Zach won. Congratulations to him on his second Major Championship! (photo from pgatour.com)

Yes, we were rooting for Jordan Spieth to make the playoff and he had his chances. It’s tough to win any golf tournament and as the announcers pounded on all event long: 3 things had to be done to win at St. Andrews…1st: hit your drive in the fairway, that gives the player at least 8 or 9 wedges into the green, so 2nd: hit accurate wedge shots, 3rd: putt well, including good lag putts and making the shorter ones. Zach won because he consistently did all these things better than everyone else.

Lots of excitement, lots of strategy, lots of opportunities to learn things to do and not do during the last 6 holes of a golf tournament. Encourage your youngster. Tell him that he can do some of the things that the pros do. Remind him that the pros hit bad shots too, they just deal with them better than the amateurs.

Get pumped! After that finish I hope your whole family was ready to go play golf… See you on #1 tee… Sam

Junior Golf: The Open Championship at St. Andrews Is Inspirational

imageIn this Monday Mulligan we will look at how The Open Championship at St. Andrews is inspirational for your junior golfer. As you read this, the best golfers in the World will be finishing their final round at the 144th Open Championship on The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland. (photo by jennleforge.com)

Please, I hope you recorded some of the play, which has taken 5 days to get to the last round. Your child can easily be captivated by the stunning scenery, challenging weather conditions and special atmosphere. And the British fans have a respect for the game of golf that is second to none.

Wind and rain delays are the reasons the golfers are playing today. Yesterday saw almost no wind, leading the announcers to say they had never seen the winds so calm at any Open Championship. So the challenge of high winds, rain and chilly conditions make for an interesting opportunity for any golfer who wants to test his skills. Legendary golfer, Davis Love III was asked what the most layers of clothes were that he had worn during a golf tournament and his answer was “That’s easy, 5-layers at The Open Championship in the 1980’s”. As former Open Champion John Daly said at this Open Championship, “I can handle the wind or the rain, but please don’t give me both.” The atmosphere is totally unique.image

You may be thinking at inclement weather doesn’t sound inspirational, but if you present it in the proper way, it can be. Playing in wet and windy conditions is something that happens to most serious golfers of all ages. Preparation is a key. A name brand golf rain jacket and rain pants and a pair of the “wet” black golf gloves are essential as are of course, waterproof golf shoes. (John Daly photo mobile.twitter.com)

During S3’s fall golf season in his sophomore year in high school it seemed like every tournament was 45-degrees and blowing rain. Nobody’s rain gear was good enough. Every player and spectator was soaked to some degree. Those that didn’t have the wet weather gloves could hardly hold onto their clubs. It was tough. But you know what, every tournament had a winner and we all did it again the next week. It certainly helps you appreciate more decent weather conditions.

imageThen there’s the history. St. Andrews is widely regarded as the birthplace of golf, with the earliest mention of play in the early 1400’s. The history, architecture, local customs, food and scenery will set your young golfer’s mind spinning. A trip here for a round of golf would be one of the “lifetime” trips for anyone who loves this sport. What an amazing place! (photo from standrews.com)

There is an Open Championship every July, so if you missed this one, plan ahead to record the 2016 event. Your kiddo will love watching it! It’s a big stage!

See you on #1 tee… maybe at St. Andrews… Sam

Junior Golf: Get Creative, Watch The Open Championship

imageToday’s Friday Flop Shot will be our introduction to creativity, one of the keys to really learning how to play golf. And when your junior golfer learns to be creative on the golf course, she will get lower scores.

So golf is a sport, but is it also an art or a science? Although there is plenty of science utilized in all aspects of golf, it is not really a science. I think it’s a sport that requires a lot of creativity/art in order to be competitive. (photo from offcoursegolfnetwork.com)

With The Open Championship, previously called The British Open Championship under way this week, this is a perfect time to begin a discussion on creativity, as in visualizing the shot your junior golfer needs to hit and then execute. In other words you help your junior golfer see the shot and then encourage them that they can successfully hit it.image

The style of golf required to be competitive in The Open is links golf which is very different than the common American-style golf of hitting the ball to a spot in the fairway and then taking aim at the flag with the approach shot. Links golf has hard rolling fairways and trying to get the ball to end up in a safe zone requires genuine visualization: seeing the flight, where you want it to land, calculating the roll to hopefully have the ball stop somewhere in the vicinity of a spot where you can have a decent shot to the green. Now links greens are usually so hard that it is rare that you can fly the ball and land it within 30-50 feet of the pin. So the greens are designed for roll-ups, landing your approach shot well short of the green and rolling toward the hole. There are numerous rolling contours both on the fairways and the greens as well as the dreaded round and deep pot bunkers, which are basically a 1-shot penalty when you go into them because it’s almost impossible to advance the ball. You are just trying to get the ball back into the fairway.

This is the week to get a great introduction to links golf and get your kiddo starting to think creatively. I encourage you to record Live From St Andrews on the Golf Channel and record The Open Championship on ESPN? If you do not have the Golf Channel, this is the time to add it to your package! Do your smart search and record the series because live coverage will start at 3:00am Central Time. (photo standrews.com)

See you on #1 tee… Sam.

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