There is an abundance of tournaments for junior golfers thanks to the many great organizations across Michigan and the United States who provide outstanding services to junior golfers and their families.
What tournaments are right for my child? This is a very common question I receive from parents. The answer is not the same for each child and will ultimately depend on the following items including, the player’s current skill set, their age, and their goals. Additionally, there are always the financial concerns and time constraints that need to be considered.
- What is the player’s current skill set?
This is the most important thing to consider when selecting a tournament. In order for the player to develop, they need to be in environments that are suitable for growth. You have to avoid tournaments that may be too challenging for your child, but also ensure that they are playing in a tournament that is going to provide them with some challenge. A good practice is to take your child’s scoring average and compare it to scores that were shot at the tournament or similar tournaments in the past. While it is not a perfect comparison because weather conditions and course par and difficulty can make a substantial impact in scoring averages, this should give you an idea if the tournament would be suitable for your child. A good rule of thumb is that if the player’s scoring average is in the bottom 10 percentile of the tournaments, you might want to consider other options.
- What is the player’s current age?
This is more important for younger and developing players, but before signing up for a tournament, make sure you know what age divisions and yardage the tournament is played from. A 12-year-old boy that carries his drives 150 yards should not be competing in a premier junior tournament playing a yardage of 6,700 yards or more. They are simply not ready yet and it could have disastrous long-term consequences for a player’s development. This child (12-year-old boy) would benefit from playing in an age group that is limited to younger players and would compete from a much shorter yardage. Certain organizations, like the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), have events that are geared for players in a certain age range. Our GAM Junior Stroke Play Championship has a Boys and Girls 13-15 Age Division (18 holes) as well as a Boys and Girls 8-12 Age Division (9 holes).
- What are the player’s goals?
If playing college golf is a goal for the player, you will want to play in events that will expose the player to college coaches. These are going to be your higher level tournaments like the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events and the GAM Boys and Girls State Junior Championships. You are also going to want to play tournament golf at times of the year that college golfers compete (Fall and Spring). Shooting a 72 in the middle of the summer is completely different than doing so on a cold and windy day in April.
- What are your budget and time constraints?
Playing in junior tournaments is not cheap. It can often involve overnight stays in hotels and traveling large distances across the state and country. Also, you may not be able to take off enough time from work in order to get your child to the tournaments they want to play the most. All of these concerns need to be addressed when setting a tournament schedule. Before you commit to a tournament plan, make sure that you are aware of the time and financial resources that are required for playing in a specific tournament. Carpooling and connecting with other golf parents is a great idea for those looking to provide their child with the best opportunities, while not breaking the bank.
It is best to consult with your child’s golf instructor/coach when selecting tournaments. He/she is often going to be implementing periodization strategies that will require times where it may be counterproductive to play in tournaments, and other times where they will want to be playing many tournaments.
If you would like a personalized tournament consultation, GAM staff member, Kyle Wolfe, is able to help put together a schedule suitable for your child based on their goals, skills, age, and budget. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-978-9132 for more details.