Junior Golf: Pay Attention Or Pay The Price

In this Monday Mulligan we will take a look at something that happened last weekend at the LPGA tournament. It is a hard lesson about paying attention when your daughter/son is in competition or there might be a steep price to pay.img_0509

Paying attention to her game and being aware of what’s going on in her group is an essential and required part of competition. It begins with a reasonable knowledge of the rules and etiquette and, of course, as her skill level improves, it would also include her strategy/game plan for her round.

Competition is different than playing with family or friends. Things happen, sometimes strange things happen, things you have never seen before and might never see again. Pressure is everywhere. Everybody reacts differently to pressure and pressure can increase or decrease during a round. Pressure has its own life!

So in last week’s LPGA ANA Championship, Lexi Thompson was assessed 4 penalty strokes in the middle of Sunday’s final round for actions that took place in the previous day’s round. A viewer sent in a video of Lexi marking her ball and putting it back in a different spot from where she picked it up. She moved the ball perhaps a quarter to half an inch and it was pretty obvious on the video. So she was penalized 2 strokes for violation of Rule 20-7C (playing from the wrong place). She signed her scorecard for 67 but it should have been 69, so she was next assessed a 2-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard and the 67 that became a 69 now became a 71. Wow!

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photocredit Jeff Gross

Her 2-stroke lead went away and she was suddenly 2 strokes behind the leader. To her credit, Lexi played very well after being informed of the penalty strokes and ended up in a playoff where she lost on the 1st hole. Lexi’s own words regarding the situation, “I didn’t realize I did that,” she said through tears. “I did not intentionally do that. But you know what, I fought hard coming in and I didn’t give up. But so many players played great, so congrats.”

What is the takeaway for junior golfers and their parents? While your kiddo should always be in the moment during a tournament, there are times to really focus and pay attention. Properly marking and replacing a golf ball is a simple task and yes, it’s relatively easy, but it should never be taken for granted. Watch how the pros do it. Their actions are deliberate and their hands move a little slower rather than faster. This is a situation that must be executed perfectly.

I asked S3 that in all his rounds of junior golf and college golf, did he ever see any violations such as this one. His response, “Maybe 3 or 4.” Then I said, “Did you call any penalties?” S3, “Sure did.”

So your girl may see this once in a blue moon, but she will see it. Please encourage her that when she is preparing to mark and then replace her golf ball that she should take a deep breath and focus on the proper technique. No problemo!

See you on #1 tee ready to properly mark and replace your ball… Sam

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by gregNdonna@aol.com on April 4, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    The question you should have asked S3 is how many times have you seen the ball replaced in “exactly” the same spot?

    In all reality, the ball is rarely placed back in the “exactly” the same spot. This is where we digress into the minutia that has ruined golf – “is placing the ball back 1/100th of an inch out of position acceptable?” If had been placed back 1/64th of an inch, would that be okay? Or what about 1/8th of an inch? Or 1/4 of an inch? 1/2 inch?

    If they are all unacceptible, then how in the world is a player supposed to know the difference between 1/100th of an inch and 1/4 of an inch? And how are we supposed to teach our daughters to tell the difference? The only way is with a video camera from a stationary position.

    No, this is insanity. If the player in good faith places the ball less than a half inch from the exact location, what benefit have they gained? None.

    Now this is to be contrasted with Tiger’s obvious cheat on his drop in the Masters. He was between clubs and knew that if he moved back six feet he could get the ball closer to the hole. That is wrong. Anyone can see that six feet is not the same spot. But a quarter of an inch? Really?

    Thank God the new rules will take care of this scholastic insanity. And the game will take off and grow because of it.

    Thanks for your tri-weekly columns. They are very helpful to us parents.

    Sincerely, greg davidson Austin

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