The Steps of Junior Golf-by Kay Dalke
Sometimes the steps look like a staircase going into infinity and other times it appears to have a ROAD CLOSED sign!
What path should you take? What road is most important? What should you do to meet your goal of becoming the best junior golfer you can?
No perfect answers exist for the above. I know from personal experience as a high school golf coach, former college player and a mom of a junior golfer, navigating the junior circuit is a challenge! Our son played in his first junior tournament at the age of three at River Creek Golf Course in Burkburnett, Texas. Tom Swiney, the pro, had a heart for junior golf. He ran a tournament once a summer for ages 3-18. I hope you have a great local program near you. What a blessing!
Here is a timetable - in the most general of forms!
Very young to age 10
Play in as many local and state events as you reasonably can. Have fun! Get to know the other players and families in your area. Try to give your child some freedom to learn from his/her mistakes. Hovering is not good! And - it is perfectly fine to take a few days off a week from golf - even during the tournament season (usually summer). Make sure your child is developing good friendships and outside interests. At this stage, it is great if they want to play multiple sports/activities. In fact, encourage it! But, be sure that in all you do, you have created a fun environment. I have seen too many parents treat their children harshly and it breaks my heart. When the choice becomes theirs, there is a good chance they will not want to take part anymore.
10-13 years of age
If golf is something your child absolutely loves and you can see a passion for it (not just talent), then stretch out a bit. Look for a few national events. Course of Action Golf can always help you with your planning. Travel to one big event to start out with, and add more as you see how your child responds. I don't recommend sending your child with someone else - unless the person is a very close family member. A parent is the best!
13-15 years of age
You will need to realistically evaluate your child's talent before you select the next path you will take. Course of Action Golf can go over your results from tournaments and help you with this process. If you believe college golf is in your future, now is the time to start working on that goal - and I don't mean just playing and practicing. A lot goes into the college search. The parent must be an active participant! Colleges are usually working 2 to 3 years out on their recruiting. So, by the time your child is 15, you need to have a plan. You must also find the tournaments that will best showcase your talent. National and regional events will significantly help you in this process. Prepare your best so you can play your best! And - make sure you take into consideration how you travel and what goes on in your practice rounds. At least one practice round is very important. Make sure you don't cut travel time short. Allow some time to recover when you arrive at the event, and make sure you have time between events, if possible.
16-18 years of age
If you are wanting college coaches to take notice at this age make sure you have added national and regional events into your schedule. Pursue some amateur events as well. Check out programs you may be interested in by writing them and going on unofficial visits. The benefit of working with Course of Action Golf is that we can help you in this process. Selecting the right events and having a solid plan can help you stand out and shine. I wish we had had Course of Action Golf as a resource when we started out in junior golf.
Don't get overwhelmed. Someone will always have the answers for you. And...we would LOVE to help you along this wonderful journey.
Course of Action Golf welcomes Kay Dalke to our team. Kay brings a wealth of knowledge as an Advisor to both parents and junior clients. COA Golf works closely with many junior tours across the country, as well as a host of PGA Professionals and organizations.
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