In July 2013, Jordan Spieth, at 19 years old, became the fourth youngest PGA Tour winner and the first teenager to win in more than 80 years.
In August 2012, 15-year-old Lydia Ko became the youngest LPGA Tour champion. Finally, in late May, Lucy Li, at 11 years old, became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. She beat Lexi Thompson’s record by a full year. These players are responsible for sparking increased interest in junior golf worldwide, and the dream of becoming a golf star has never been greater than now. Therefore, I felt it was important to revisit an article I wrote few years back about how to raise a Tour player.
The past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with very talented PGA and LPGA Tour players in their early 20s. Here are some things I learned from them and their families that may help you raise and train a Tour player.
1. Tour players are born and not made. You have to be born with God-given talent. You could help your child pursue their dream, but the reality is that you might have a better chance of winning the lotto than getting a Tour card. If your child has talent, dedication, proper coaching and, most importantly, loves the game, a college career should be the long-term goal and the PGA Tour the dream.
2. Parents have to be involved. It takes great dedication and sacrifices from parents, too. You are their life coach. You know what and how to motivate them. But leave the technical coaching to the golf instructor. Best-case scenario: beyour child’s eyes. You could learn to be their trainer, even if you know nothing aboutgolf.Youcouldtakevideosforthem. Parents, with proper training from the golf coach, you could become a great asset to the development of your child. If done improperly, it doesn’t matter how talented your child is, it could be a train wreck for your family.
3. Coaches. Don’t hesitate to ask ques- tions. Remember that the coaches work for you. If they can’t fix the problem to further develop your child’s play, don’t be afraid to look for help from another coach. Your child could have outgrown the coach.
4.How do I know my kid is working on the right swing mechanics? There are so many swing theories out there that it is very confusing for many parents. Did you know that almost every Tour player from every generation has the same impact position? It’s the one commonality on Tour. Your child should be working on improving his or her impact position.
Here is a litmus test for your junior: 1) Take a video of your child, behind him fac- ing the target line. 2) Measure his or her spine angle at address. It should be any- where between 46 to 65 degrees depend- ing on the club and his or her physique. 3) Measure the spine angle at impact (just as he or she is making contact with the ball). If your child’s spine angle is higher than the address position at impact by 10 degrees or more you have problems. Why is losing the spine angle bad at impact? As your child’s body gets stronger, a straight spine angle will cause severe hooks. Too many compensation moves will be in play to hit the ball straight with power.
Improvement of scoring is important, but if your child doesn’t improve his impact position, he or she will not achieve their long-term goal or dream.
5.Don’t fix when it ain’t broken approach. Most young Tour players today did not practice this when they were growing up.
a. Wrong approach: I know I have a few fundamental problems, but I just won by three strokes and we will fix it later because there are important tournaments coming up. b. Right approach: I know I won by three strokes, but I could have won by 10 strokes. Let’s fix the fundamentals even if I struggle in the short term.
6. Custom golf equipment. Like every- thing we do for our kids, buy the best equip- ment that we can afford. At minimum, customize the length, lie angle and shaft. Improperly fitted clubs will cause them to develop poor fundamentals and they could spend the rest of their golf life trying to fix those faults. Your instructor or clubfitter should have a solution to meet your budget. Remember that the shaft is the most impor- tant part of the club.
7. Kids versus adult clubs. It has been our experience that you are never too young to use adult driver heads because driver heads for kids are inferior. We have seen 9-year-old kids gain 20 yards using adult driver heads. But remember that you just can’t shorten the shafts. When using adult clubheads, the shaft and swing weight have to be custom- ized. It could be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to cost lots of money.
To help your talented children achieve their goals and dreams, make sure that you are utilizing your resources efficiently by always seeking out new information and knowledge.BecomingaTourplayerisoneof the hardest things to do; therefore, to lessen the frustration, it is crucial to create realistic, quantifiable short- and long-term goals.