Golf Practice "J"

The game of golf requires self-discipline, determination and persistence which build character and personal strength in our young people's lives.

The goal when teaching juniors to play golf, should be to provide the most positive environment possible, making it fun and affordable

The letter J is dedicated to junior golfers.

Junior 1: Why golf?

Concept: This Sport Takes Focus

When you think about other sports such as basketball, baseball, or football, you will notice these games are a bit more physical and are built around taking action with physical exertion.

In golf, you need a much higher level of focus and concentration, which can prove more difficult than other sports.

Action: Are you up for this challenge?

Consider this: The golf ball is only 1.68 inches in diameter. Your club face may be only 4 to 5 inches, with only one inch on the club face considered to be the “sweet spot”. You then have the shaft of your club which ranges from 35 inches up to 45 inches, or more. You must take the club and swing it all the way back above your shoulders and down into an arc motion in order to hit a tiny golf ball with the sweet spot of your club face. All of this must be done in one fluid motion to get the desired result. THAT, my friend, takes skill.

So the challenge is set. Come on junior golfers!

Junior 2: Cheating

Concept: Turn in your real score for each hole.

Action: Learn the rules and stick to them. Golf is a game you play against yourself. Fabricating your handicap may look good on paper and may even impress other players, but it will not do you any good in determining your progress with the game.

In fact, lowering your handicap can harm your play by putting you at a disadvantage in competitions.

Junior 3: Start entering golf tournaments?

Concept: Pre-round routines and thoughts for producing solid tournament results.

Actions: Practice your putting rhythm.

Just as the time on the range is not for rebuilding your swing, the time on the practice putting green is not for working on the mechanics of your stroke. Prior to your round, focus on your rhythm and rolling the ball. Leave the technical work until after your round.

Practice long range putts

Tiger Woods once commented that on the first several holes of a round, it's likely your first few putts will be from a fairly long range. Prepare for this by hitting at least 10, 30 to 40 foot putts on the practice putting green. This will enable you to get a decent feel for the pace of the greens as well as an idea for the length of stroke you will need on those longer putts.

Your ideal swing

The best way to find out how you are hitting the ball for the day, as well as what shape of shot you are producing, is in your pre round warm-up. Take note of your shot shape and accept this is your shot shape for the day, and make allowances for it out on the course.

A perfect example of a professional taking this advice would be when Tiger Woods won the Mercedes Championship back in 1997. It was in a playoff against Tom Lehman.

Tiger hit a tee shot over water on a par 3 finishing only inches from the hole. However, he had been having trouble with his pushed shot the entire round, so he aimed well to the left of the flag to allow for his “poor shot”, tapped the putt in to make the birdie, and won!


Research the golf course

Many good players would agree the purpose of a golf hole is to test your game technique and personal strategies. Prepare yourself for the challenge by looking at course planners and yardage boards on the tees to find out where the hazards are and your most sensible route onto the green.

Check to see where the hole is most likely to catch you out and increase your margin of error with your shot selection so that you stack the odds in your favor.

Junior 4: Short game basics professional use

Concept: Do you think professional golfers are so accurate they send every tee-off directly where they want, and every shot on the green perfectly? The answer is no, thus the reason why the pros place so much emphasis on mastering the short game.

Actions: Chipping is simple.

You have probably heard the expression “Keep It Simple”, and it relates to golf more than anything else. Professional players will always tell you to never complicate a shot by over-analysis.

Play a straightforward chip shot rather than an over-the-top fancy lob shot.

Get to know your carry/rolls

The best way to become a skilled chipper is to know exactly how each club in your golf bag performs. For example, assuming you make the same swing with every club, the sand wedge will spend 90% of its time airborne while only 10% on the ground. Your 4 iron will spend approximately 10% in the air and 90% on the ground. The 7 iron will carry about 50% of the way and roll on the ground for the other 50%.

Flag in when chipping

Many golfers go through the dilemma of whether to remove the flagstick when they are chipping from just off the edge of the green. There are various opinions on the matter but Tiger Woods has the opinion that it's best to leave the flagstick in as it can stop the ball from running past the hole.

It has even helped many chip shots into the cup. By taking it out, you have to be 100% spot-on with the correct speed, so it's better to have the protection of the flag stick.

Straight faced club

Any time you feel pressure when chipping around the green, pick a club with a straighter face to take care of the job—perhaps the 7 iron to get the proper roll needed.

More lofted club

When your ball lands low in the grass, expect to hit a low flying shot. The best approach here is to use as much loft as possible in order to get some height. And on the other side of the coin, when the ball has settled on high grass you can expect it to fly higher than usual, so it would be a wise choice to chip with a less lofted club to reduce the height.

Junior 5: Posture

Concept: Poor quality shots often stem from a poor set-up, something that is easy to fix but overlooked by many golfers.

Sometimes, junior players seem to forget the obvious little tweaks that need to be made as they get better at the game: basics, basics, basics!

Action: Chin up. This simple move tends to lead to a better posture, with the spine angle more erect. It gives you space under the chin to turn the left shoulder. Holding an ice cream stick in the mouth serves as a good reminder, as it touches the body when the head drops down.