My oldest son started college this year and my younger son started high school. Our junior golf experience started when my oldest was 8 years old, so we have over a decade in the junior golf” game”.
College Golf Recruiting – A Parent’s Perspective
Looks like I have ~3 more years as a junior golf parent and it feels like a good time to reflect on what I have learned over the last 10 years.
Before we get to that, I have to share. I have loved every minute. Going to be sad when it is over. If your child is just getting started with the game, maybe some of what I have learned can help you.
1. Offer The Keys, But Let Them Drive
Present options, but let your junior golfer(s) make the decisions.
This is true for everything from when and how much to practice to college recruiting. I have learned to share options and provide my thoughts, but ask what they want to do.
You may not always 100% agree with their final decision, but it is their journey. Let them learn from it.
The same is true of the tournaments they play in. Your junior golfer may need help with planning, but don’t sign them up until they confirm they want to play in a specific event.
2. Does It Matter What Your Child Shoots When They Are Young?
“Who cares if you are the best player in the world at 7 years old?”
This is a quote from the first PGA Professional that gave my oldest son a lesson. I will never forget it.
Don’t get me wrong, if your young player is winning major tournaments that is awesome, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee future success.
Similarly, your 8-year old struggling doesn’t mean they should give up the game. Players mature at different times.
Make sure they fall in love with the game. Make sure they are having fun. There is plenty of time later to get worried about scores and results.
3. Play High School Golf
To be transparent, I do help coach our local high school team, so it is possible I am not an impartial witness on this topic.
I will never understand why some players avoid playing for their high school team.
The reasons I have heard. I don’t want a silly high school coach trying to mess with their swing. The team is terrible and it is a waste of time.
Both are crazy. If your junior golfer is “too good” for high school, why do you think they would be impacted by a “bad” swing tip?
Waste of time? Pretty sure college golf is a team sport.
I would challenge you to go back to #1 on my list. Are you sure your junior golfer is the one who thinks they shouldn’t play high school golf? My guess, it is coming from an adult in their life.
4. Play Other Sports – Be An Athlete
Junior golf can be a 12-month activity, but it doesn’t need to be their only sport.
My boys love to play basketball – are they any good? They never read my posts, so I can safely be honest.
There isn’t a ton of talent there, but they love it. They look forward to their basketball season as much as any golf tournament and that is fine.
In our area golf is fall sport and I am very proud to say that my younger son is going to play high school soccer in the spring.
Does this mean he might practice a little less golf during those months? Will he miss a couple golf tournaments due to soccer games?
Yes, but it’s what he wants to do. Can’t wait to watch.
5. Rankings Will Take Care Of Themselves
Junior Golf Scoreboard and AJGA Stars can easily consume your junior golfer if you put too much focus on it.
I still remember when my older son was 16 years old and he missed a birdie putt on the last hole of a tournament. He had played great, but the first thing he said to me. “I think that putt cost me 4 stars”.
Junior golfers want to shoot low scores and win tournaments. They are competitive. The last thing they need is something else to worry about.
I do think rankings matter when it comes to college recruiting, but do your best to help your player not worry about them.
At the end of the day, if you play well the rankings will take care of themselves.
Don’t chase status – let your junior play in the tournaments they want to play in. If they are good, the college coaches will find them (that is their job:)).
Enjoy Your Time As A Junior Golf Parent
I will end too soon. Enjoy your time on the golf course. Good luck to the junior golfer(s) in your life!