Guidelines for Junior Golfers

Junior Golfer

I have so much to say to junior golfers – they are the future of the game.  Here is a summary of what I believe to be the most important points for them to observe:

  • Always walk versus ride! Golf carts have been forced into the game primarily for financial reasons. They do not speed up the game; they do not provide the golfer with a better experience; and they do not improve the design of golf courses!  Do yourself a favor and commit to never riding again unless it is absolutely called for.
  • Compete, casually and seriously, as often as possible. One of the primary reasons boys are much better chippers than girls is because they love to compete and try unique shots around the practice green. It is this competitive environment that stretches them to create new and better shots. Apply this philosophy to every element of the game.
  • Study and learn to appreciate the history of the game.  Do you know who Bobby Jones is?  Why is St. Andrews such a special place?  Who is Dr. Alister MacKenzie? I wholeheartedly believe that this is an element of the game that is being lost on our young golfers – an appreciation of all who have walked the fairways before them.  Read books and ask questions!  You will be better off for it.
  • Take full advantage of every opportunity you are presented with.  Do not give yourself the chance to look back on your career and regret that you did not give everything 100% effort.  Do everything to the best of your ability!
  • Heart always beats out a pretty swing!  When it comes to the game of golf, this statement will forever be true.  All of the great champions played with a tremendous amount of heart; not all of them had pretty swings.
  • Have fun with the short game. Try to hit the craziest shots you can imagine.  It will teach you how to control your club face and ultimately the ball.  I actually remember having SW long drive contests. Try to hit the highest, lowest, shortest shots you can think of; it all adds up to creativity around the greens.
  • Work hard at the game. It’ll teach you about life and its challenges. Golf, like life, is not always fair, but patience, belief and persistence will pay off in the end.
  • You do not have to be the next Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus.  This is a huge problem I see amongst junior golfers and their parents.  When did it stop being okay for junior golfers to just simply play the game for enjoyment? It seems that every junior golfer and their parents have their sights set on grandeur and no expense or sacrifice is too great for a slim shot at stardom. If you want to be as good as you can, by all means go for it, but if you just like the game for what it is, take it easy and just have fun.
  • Play with the best golfers you can find. Nothing will improve your game as quickly as playing with players that are a lot better than you.
  • If you are over 15 and serious about being good you need to look into getting stronger and fitter. Find a trainer who knows the golf swing and how to train for golf.
  • Respect the etiquette, honesty and integrity of the game. Play the game at a different level than your peers. The vast majority of champions in the game were very clear in this regard – play golf the way it was meant to be played!  Behave in a first class fashion on the course and it will start to carry over into all areas of your life.
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A Note to Parents:

Give your young golfers a chance to have a great time playing and practicing the game.  This way they will learn to love the game and when they love the game they will come back to it over and over.  This is the only way they will ever reach their full potential - if you will allow them to have fun while playing golf!I have seen the game become work and a career for too many 12 and 13 year olds.  I taught perhaps the best female junior golfer of all time in Aree Song At 13 she had won the US Junior, the very first AJGA event she played in, finished in the top 10 in an LPGA major and was a first team AJGA All-American.  Aree, now in her late twenties, no longer plays on the tour.  She should be a dominant force in the prime of her career! We can all guess why she no longer has a passion for the game.  Trust me; I have seen the right way and the wrong way; tread lightly and let them have fun.

The 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews

The Home of Golf

How many of golf's greatest have traversed the bridge crossing the Swilcan Burn?

There will not be birdies flying at the 17th hole this week after the venerable R&A added an additional 50 yards to this already very difficult hole.

The par-5 14th hole could be heaven or hell this week for the golfers. The latter if they happen to find their ball in Hell Bunker!

I would love to be in the "auld grey toon" this week for the Open Championship - in any capacity. Just to be able to get a sense for not only the event, but the place as well. I'd love to simply see those bunkers - from Beardies, to Ginger Beer, to Cottage, Road and the feared Hell. It seems that the saying of Bobby Jones has never been more true,

Too much ambition is a bad thing to have in a bunker.

I look for TW to win this week and I hope for firm fast and windy conditions. Whatever we get - enjoy!

Luxurious Irish Links - Doonbeg Golf Club

The Lodge at Doonbeg Ireland is my favorite country in the world to play golf in and nowhere in all of Ireland is the combination of luxury and pure Irish links golf better than on the west coast of Ireland at Doonbeg.

The golf course, designed by Greg Norman, is a true links gem with nine holes going out and nine more bringing you home.  The course plays 6,885 yards from the back tees and it has everything from pot bunkers, to undulating greens, exciting, driveable par fours and treacherous par threes.  The five par threes are exhilarating with the shorter 9th, 11th and 14th leading the pack.

The 14th at Doonbeg

The  signature 14th hole plays to 111yards from the back tees and I have hit every club in my bag from a seven iron up in to the green.  Or at least the vicinity of the green!  As you can tell from the picture above it really is a case of do or die!  While the ocean is in view from sixteen of the eighteen holes it certainly does not come into play (on all of them!) and all skill levels should be able to have a fantastic day of golf.  There are five different sets of tees offered.  Other than one questionable green complex (#12) I thought all the holes were memorable,  very playable and interesting.  Actually quite a rare combination.

From a golf vacation perspective Doonbeg's location in County Clare is excellent as you are in close proximity to Shannon airport and the esteemed Ballybunion and Lahinch links courses.

While the course has been known to abuse a few of it's guests you will not experience anything of the sort at the Lodge at Doonbeg.  I have had the privilege of spending a handful of nights within her solid stone walls and I have never experienced a finer hotel in all my travels.  The food, bedding, customer service and attention to detail are second to none!  Oh, and the view is not too bad either!  Should the Guinness not have done the trick after the round, the ladies, and gents if you prefer, have access to the world class spa to soothe away those few too many swings out on the course.

Terri and I will travel with a group of  'friends' to Doonbeg later this year to compete in the Norman Trophy.  We cannot wait to experience all the luxury and links Doonbeg has to offer.

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The 9th at Doonbeg

Things to Ponder:

  • The other day my son asked asked me why I had a Bobby Jones haircut?! That boy is getting crazy about golf....
  • My prayers are with the Mickelson family at the moment. Occasions like this make me realize what truly is important. Tell someone you care about that you love them!
  • Look for my pick this week, Mr. Ian Poulter, to dominate the field!
  • Thanks to you all for feedback on my post "Family Golf" - I appreciate the words of encouragement.
  • Charles Barkley is a funny man, but Hank Haney has had no chance from day one! You cannot cure yips with instruction!  The only hope Sir Charles has is cross handed (my choice) or left handed. End of story!
  • Anybody out there know of some secret links golf destinations please let me know.