Nothing pleases me more, than seeing junior golfers arriving with their parents when I am at the golf course. The looks of excitement and anticipation on the faces of these juniors is priceless, and I am quickly reminded of the same feelings I experienced when I was in their shoes. Each day out presented an opportunity to better the shots I had played the previous time out, and maybe even whack the driving range cart with a few shots! I constantly challenged myself with new goals on the golf course, and I hope that junior golfers today do the same.
My goals in junior golf gradually turned into a desire to play on the high school golf team, and eventually to play on a college golf team. This desire was aided tremendously by the fact that I grew up playing on the university golf course in my home town. Both the men’s and ladies golf teams were always out practicing, and I loved being around them. They were who I wanted to become, and I embraced every moment I got to spend with them. Imagine being a 10 year old, and being included in chipping and putting competitions with college golfers. It was incredible!
The experience here in Santa Clarita, and throughout most of Los Angeles, is quite different for junior golfers. There are no university golf courses. Occasionally, I will see college golfers practicing at certain golf courses on certain days of the week. However, the opportunity for a junior golfer to truly connect with these players just doesn’t exist.
Serious junior golfers need role models. College golfers are tremendous role models. They exemplify what it means to be a good student, have strong character, and have a strong work ethic. Each of these traits go a long way not only in golf, but also in life.
If you have a junior golfer who is interested in one day playing on a college golf team, it is important to emphasize these traits. College golfers miss quite a bit of school. It’s not uncommon for a golfer to miss three weeks, or more, of classes during the school year. This requires that your junior learn to communicate effectively with their teachers to stay on task with their studies.
Even though we often think of golf as an individual sport, playing on a college golf team teaches juniors to encourage their teammates for the betterment of the team. This requires strong character. Most junior golfers who are fortunate enough to play collegiately are accustomed to coming from a high school team where they were the best player. You probably won’t be the best player on your team once you arrive in college, so you need to know how to be a good teammate. Do this, and you will eventually work yourself into being the top player on the team.
Finally, being a top collegiate golfer requires that you have a strong work ethic. It’s not uncommon for teams to have early morning workouts, followed by hours of school classes, before finishing the day back on the golf course at practice. This schedule can be exhausting!
As a parent, there is nothing more gratifying than having your child find something to feel passionate about. If you are fortunate enough to have a child who is passionate about the game of golf, the college golf experience can be a great reward waiting for them. If you have an opportunity to introduce them to a college golfer, I would suggest doing so. They can then see somebody who was once in their shoes.