Are you willing to stay committed, focused and sacrifice?

Porter Metcalf Jr PGA, Jack Nicklaus Academy Orlando

My passion for being involved in this great game is to work with juniors who desire to compete and play exceptionally well. Players with aspirations not just to be out there, but to be in contention on the leaderboard regularly. In short, to be a favorite to win each time they tee it up with the goal of catching the interest of a college golf coach or recruiting scout. I reference college, not the professional tours as I feel strongly juniors need an education other than golf to sustained them through life, or at a minimum, an education to fall back on should “Plan A” fall short.

If you are just starting out in junior golf and want to be an exceptional player or perhaps a junior that is facing challenges presently, to follow are a several key thoughts that may help you get off to a great start or turned around in a positive direction.

1. Motives/Motivation – The driving motive or motivation to play your best, especially at the elite level, has to come from deep inside. This inner drive must be a burning passion to excel and to do whatever is necessary to develop one’s golfing skills to the highest level possible. This attribute, character trait, or burning passion is often times the missing link as to why so many juniors stagnate in their progress while a small group of juniors excel and standout.

A word of caution; if you are a junior player who is playing the game for any other reason but for yourself and the love of the game, you need to step back and reevaluate your purpose for playing. If the reason you are playing the game is to please your parents or the belief that you will become the next mega star, the pressure placed upon your shoulders psychologically will no doubt hurt your ability to consistently stay focused, play well, and achieve your goals.

2. Comprehensive or Holistic Competitive Player Development – Find a program, instructor or coach that is committed to you beyond just the time on the range hitting balls. Seek out a coach that is committed to teaching you the full game of golf starting from the putting green and working your way back to the tee. Your player development path should be a comprehensive plan with quality time and interaction between the instructor and player. Golf is a game of collective skills that must be developed patiently over time, and then integrated for a complete game. In my opinion, the best approach for building confidence and skill early in your development is to begin with the short game, moving on to the scoring wedges, and then building the full swing on sound and proven fundamentals. Once the basic fundamentals, concepts and principles are learned, understood and applied at an acceptable level of proficiency, it is then time move on to more creative shot making, shaping shots, and advanced course play strategy and management. Keep your approach to player development well defined and simple! Focus on the fundamentals foremost at the onset and regularly as you become a better player. There is a very sound reason Mr. Nicklaus returned to his coach, Jack Grout, at the start of each season to confirm and reinforce that his fundamentals were perfect.

3. Personal Accountability – And lastly, take responsibility for your game, the successes and the failures, and identify areas that need work so that you can to be the winner you know you can be! Competitive golf is no different than any other sport where those who win regularly and consistently are those who train endlessly, compete, retrain, and are eager to get back to the heat of competition.

If you want to be elite, you must have a training mindset, not simply a practice mindset. You must be willing to not just practice a few times a week, but regularly with a specific purpose in mind. No other middle or high school sport conducts practice/training just a few times a week with any anticipation or thought of being really competitive. And yes, this will involve personal sacrifices, focus and commitment on your part.

There are verifiable, concrete reasons and attributes why certain player’s are regularly on the top of the leaderboard and catching the eye of college recruiters. There are no short cuts to success. Being able to take home championships, national titles, and being in contention no matter what level you are currently at are earned, not given. If you don’t want to take your player development seriously, then you can expect your share of disappointing results along the way. Don’t be just a contributor to the fund that purchases the trophies, get out there take home your share of top finishes and build a college golf resume with consistently low scores and victories that will grab a college coach or scout’s attention!