IS PACE OF PLAY A PROBLEM IN JUNIOR GOLF?
As many of you will remember, the USGA kicked off a campaign in 2013 focused on improving the pace of play in golf — the “While we’re Young..” originated from Caddyshack (not a junior approved movie :)).
Get’em Interested – Get’em Hooked
While this campaign was focused on all golfers, it definitely applies to our younger players. Sadly, many junior tournament rounds go 5+ hours, even when playing in threesomes. This causes frustration for players, caddies, parents, spectators, and tournament directors; it can also make it harder for jr. events to get support from clubs (no club pro wants their course clogged up by slow play).
Going from Recreational to Competitive
So, why do juniors play slow? It seems counter-intuitive. From my experience, it comes down to few things:
- Not ready when it is their turn to play
- Overly complex pre-shot routine (often created by a coach or parent)
- Indecisive – scared of next shot/worried about outcome
- Caddy is too involved
- Unaware they are a “slow player”
GET —> COMMIT —> HIT
Keep it simple, junior! Don’t overthink it! The process I have discussed with my boys is GET—>COMMIT—>HIT.
GET – get the information you need to play the next shot — yardage, check the wind, slope (uphill/downhill), etc ***NOTE: most of the time, this step can be started before it is your turn (Play Ready Golf).
COMMIT – visualize and commit to the shot your want to play – high, low, fade, draw, etc.
HIT – make the swing, embrace the result, and move to your next shot
Not all players are the same – some may be comfortable following this process in under 15 seconds and others may need 25-30.
Dealing with a New Jr. Golf Challenge
HOW CAN I HELP MY JUNIOR IMPROVE HIS/HER PACE?
First step, make it a topic you discuss — don’t just focus on score, but also the process they follow to prepare for a shot. My younger son is lightning quick (maybe too fast), but my older son is little more meticulous. I look for opportunities to recommend more efficient routines or discuss how he can comfortably play quicker.
GETting the information you need is something you can practice – discuss what type of details your junior needs to know before he/she can play a shot. Talk about the ways to do this before it is their turn.
Typically, a player that struggles to COMMIT in a timely manner is worried about the result. It is better to make a questionable decision, but commit to the shot 100% than make the right decision and lack belief.
The HIT is the fun part. Not every shot will be perfect, but our juniors will have more fun if they can play 18 holes in under 4 hours!
AM I THE PROBLEM?
Always good to check yourself! If you are caddying, are you slowing down your player? Are you worried about the result, so you make them step off shots over and over? Is there too much conversation on every shot?
More time doesn’t equal lower scores (Just ask Brooks! :))