Although there are differences among the best junior golfers, one thing they almost certainly have in common is that, when compared to their peers, they have more tournament experience. The benefits of tournament play are numerous and include:
Periodization and Timing
We like to use a model and a few simple rules to help parents get a better feel for the frequency in which their child should compete. Most high-level athletes use some form of periodization to peak at the right time and avoid over training. In golf, the model below works well for both juniors starting out and for more experienced golfers.
[Model to be supplied separately]
There are four phases within a cycle and the duration of each phase and the time in between each phase can vary throughout the year. Here’s how the timing might work for a young golfer who plays a two-day tournament on the weekend and has two weeks until his next tournament.
Now that you have a better idea of how to manage a competition cycle, let’s go over the specifics of putting together a tournament schedule.
For younger players, the goal is exposure and experience. At this stage, score is unimportant, so parents can schedule several tournaments in a row even if it’s not possible or practical to play practice rounds at each course. For older, more competitive juniors, parents need to be strategic when selecting tournaments because of their implications to national rankings. Parents should lean toward events on familiar courses, with strong fields, and that will allow adequate preparation including playing at least one practice round.
For both younger and more experienced players, parents need to pay attention to their child’s energy and enthusiasm levels. It’s easy to over schedule your child and lose the benefits that are normally derived from tournament play.
The NTPGA (www.ntpga.com) has a full schedule of nine-hole (prep) and 18-hole (medalist) tournaments. These tournaments are a great starting point for players that need experience on the golf course. The TJGT (www.tjgt.com) is a great regional tour that offers competitive juniors the opportunity to test their skills on championship courses and against strong fields. The most serious juniors can consider playing on a national level. The AJGA (www.ajga.org) offers a full schedule of events throughout the country.