by Chris Finn, MSPT, CSCS, TPIMP – Founder, Par4Success
I had the recent honor of speaking to a large group of junior golfers and their parents down in Pinehurst and one of the topics we discussed was the all-important question of “what is the point of a tournament?”
I was very pleasantly surprised at the answers I received from those in attendance as they ranged from having fun to learning how to compete and everything in between. The #1 goal of playing in a competitive tournament is to learn. If you are playing competitively, your goal needs to be to assess your game in the competitive environment and take away something from the experience that propels your game forward.
Unfortunately, many kids and parents are so concerned with winning that if they don’t win or shoot a higher score than expected the totally miss out on the growth opportunity. There were more than a few top 20 PGA and LPGA professionals who did not win this year. Winning once in a year on the pro tour’s is usually considered a very good year…so if golf you better get good at improving off losses.
Going back to the question I posed at the beginning of this article, with over 400 tournaments offered in NC and SC alone in 2017, there was certainly no shortage of choice! The real question became which ones to play and when. To answer this, we need to apply a case by case answer. Here are some things to consider when selecting tournaments.
If your junior is in the middle of a growth spurt, tripping on flat ground and walking into walls, now is not the time to sign them up for national and high-level regional tournaments. Stay local and use an intelligent golf fitness program to work on coordination and fundamental movements to help them get through the awkward period they are going through. Do NOT expect record low scores from them at this point.
If the junior’s goal is to play college golf, you NEED to be looking for 2+ day tournaments. High School golf, while fun, is NOT a place to get noticed for college. In fact, many college coaches don’t even care what you did in high school golf except in the state championships.
If you want to play college golf in California but live in New Jersey, you will want to look at playing in some tournaments out west so the coaches can compare you to the kids in that area and see how you play in that region of the country.
If your goal is just to have fun or get some competitive juices flowing before bigger tournaments, 1-day local tournaments work great.
The point here is that not all tournaments are created equal and if you want to play in college, you will need to play multi-day events against strong competition that is not usually seen in single day local events.
This is perhaps the biggest factor when figuring out your tournament schedule and the biggest problem I see I see in junior golf today. If you talk to a professional golfer, they will tell you that playing week in and week out is exhausting, and if they can avoid it, they probably will not play more than 3 weeks in a row if possible. Get to 5 or 6 weeks in a row and their bodies and minds are fried.
If that is what the professionals, who do this for a living say, then what do you think I am going to recommend to juniors? LISTEN to the pros!
The summer golf tournament season is usually jam-packed, and for higher level players there is usually a lot of travel encompassed with that. I had a top ranked national player this past year who played 8 WEEKS in a row traveling all over the country! She was EXHAUSTED and did not perform near her best after week 5. In fact, some of her worst rounds of the year were in those last 3 weeks of that swing. Her body started breaking down with aches and pains and her mental focus was shot. Hardly a recipe for success.
I hope that you will consider these three points when looking at your tournament schedule this upcoming year so that you can maximize your performance output on the course and set yourself up for long-term success. Good Luck!