It’s a scene that repeats itself time and time again.
A young hotshot dominating one level of junior golf decides to move up and conquer the next level. Local events were a breeze. Regional events were passed with flying colors.
Time to move up to a bigger stage.
First stop, the AJGA. Next stop the U.S. Junior Amateur. After that, a top D-I program. Finally, Rickie Fowler on speed dial. Expectations are high. The local press is writing articles and top college coaches are ‘Following’ you on The Hub.
And then the inevitable happens: It all starts to go wrong.
First is the realization that ‘these guys are good.’ The next level is nothing like the previous one. The competition is tougher. Players are better athletes. They hit the ball further. Coaching is better. Work ethic more disciplined. Short games sharper.
And to top it all, our athlete is changing. A growth spurt has set in, welcoming six new inches of height. Coordinating these new ungainly parts is becoming a challenge.
To put it simply: The road has gotten tough!
Time to learn a valuable lesson that Junior Golf Hub’s Founder and top PGA Professional Roger Knick teaches his students:
“The journey is not a linear line to your destination!”
It’s a journey after all.
Journeys don’t work in straight lines. They have ups and downs. Exhilarations and exasperations. Holes you dig and then (hopefully!) dig yourself out of.
But here at The Hub, we aren’t going to leave you out on an island during the tough times! To help you on your way, here are four practical tips for managing the journey to another level in junior golf:
1. Get an objective assessment
Objective. Assessment. Magic words! We recommend players get a cold, hard look at their current reality across all key elements of their game.
For example, at our parent company, the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield, CT, players undergo a thorough, objective assessment spanning ball striking, short game, physical proficiency and movement patterns, mental skills, and equipment. A full workup!
And Objective is a key word. Don’t guess or have only a vague sense of where you stand. Take a good hard look!
2. Craft a long-term development plan
The next step in the process is to create a long-term development plan.
Long-term. Development. Plan.
This is best done with a trusted coach and should include a clear plan over time to address areas in your assessment and game that need attention. No short-term fixes or band-aids!
Here at The Hub, we have met zero players who took the fast and quick route and thrived at the next level. Take note!
3. Hard work, consistency, and discipline (thank you very much!)
As human beings, we all have a very natural desire for comfort. Our homes are set to precisely the right temperature. We get swept away by the pleasure of a good story or movie. Many of us fear the unknown and cling to the familiar and safe rather than the risky and bold. Tempering this desire for comfort is a key step in progress.
The hard reality is that you simply won’t get better without the triumvirate of hard work, consistency, and discipline. Don’t believe us? Here’s a quote from Jordan Spieth on when he moved up to the next level to play in the AJGA:
“Without the AJGA, I would not have opened to the relationships I keep on the PGA Tour, and I wouldn’t have been able to test my game on a national stage. To be able to play against the best players in the world in a junior golf event at an early age is fantastic. For me, it took my game from ‘I think I’m pretty good’ to a very humbled experience of ‘these guys are good and you need to work your butt off.’ To win an AJGA event is as hard as it is to win a PGA Tour event now. They’re not easy.”
Now that’s a winning attitude!
4. Avoid common psychological traps
There are many psychological traps people can fall into when the going gets tough. We’ve all encountered them at one time or another. Whining. Complaining. Rationalization. Low frustration tolerance. Fear. Avoidance. Simply put – don’t go there! These can be deadly sinkholes – like falling off the side of a cliff on your trek up Mount Everest.
Instead, develop the principles of a winning psychology in hard times. Learn how to accept the challenge. Take what happens to you (including all the messy, mucky guck) and learn from it. Discover that “The Obstacle is the Way” to paraphrase author Ryan Holiday’s bestseller. This is a path to growth and becoming a stronger version of yourself.