Should I Play in Junior Golf Tournaments During the Winter Months?
Strategic practice and game development can be beneficial
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.
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