As winter storms race across the nation and snow accumulates in various regions of the country, junior golfers are
faced with the challenge of playing an outdoor sport. Fortunately, many golf clubs have added or upgraded their indoor
training facilities, affording those players some opportunity to remain competitive during the winter months. But is it
necessary or essential for those players to continue participating in junior golf tournaments during the first quarter
of the new year when they have had little to no time playing golf outdoors? From my viewpoint, and after speaking with
college coaches regarding this topic, I suggest another strategy instead.
Players who have the resources to travel during the winter months would be better served scheduling a trip (or
several trips) to warm-climate regions where they can play golf, work on all aspects of their game, book lessons, and
possibly get fit for new clubs as the upcoming golf season approaches. This time and financial investment will pay
dividends as the snow melts at home, golf courses open, and the regional tournaments begin. Some of the nation’s elite
Division I golf programs have adopted a very similar approach as well. While schools in warm-climate regions can afford
their players an environment to continue playing and practicing golf between the fall and spring seasons, more
northern-based programs have to get creative. The NCAA now allows golf programs to fund practice opportunities anywhere
(even outside their home states), provided the student-athletes do not miss class time for these practices. With this
new rule in place, many of the nation’s elite cold-climate golf programs will fly south as many as three to five times
during late January, February, and even March to provide an opportunity for their players to train, play rounds of golf
and, most importantly, regain their feel for playing the game outdoors under real conditions. While many of these
programs have on-campus, state-of-the-art golf performance centers where players can train indoors, there is nothing
like playing golf outside on green grass.
Junior golfers who are faced with geographical and climate challenges should adopt a similar philosophy during the
winter months. Think of it as your time to improve as a player, work on your swing technique, get your golf equipment in
order, and spend extra time in the gym gaining the strength and flexibility necessary to achieve a high level of success
during the upcoming golf season.
Competing in tournaments and learning how to post low scores are, ultimately, how college coaches who are looking for
recruits will evaluate players. With that said, there is no requirement to post tournament scores 12 months per year.
Instead, focus on quality tournament results in season, and leave the off-season to game development. College coaches
will understand and, in many cases, can relate to this effective long-term strategy.