As one of the Tournament Directors of the Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego and a nine-year member of the Board of Directors of the San Diego Jr Golf Association (host group of the Junior World) and co-founder of the Porzak Golf Academy who works with many of the top juniors in the country, I feel qualified to discuss the subject of “Pace of Play”.
Why am I discussing this issue? It simply pains me to see kids not having fun partially due to the lengthy pace of play of competitive junior golf.
Any round exceeding 5-hours (and that’s a stretch) is unacceptable. The biggest contributor to this is the pre-shot routines of many juniors. Are 2, 3 and even 4 practice swings prior to each and every shot necessary? It adds minutes to each hole and the energy being exerted will negatively affect one’s play in the closing holes. Also, is it really necessary to read putts of all lengths from every angle? All one has to do is look to the pros to see that it is not necessary.
Educating juniors about “ready golf” is the responsibility of coaches and parents. All one has to do is take a chapter out of a professionals book and create an effective set-up routine for their child. The pre-shot routine to the time one makes contact with the ball should take no longer then 40-seconds. During this time, the other players should be preparing for their upcoming shot. Very seldom do I see players (especially the young ones) focusing on their own game during this period. The root of slow play is the time taken in between the shots of each player.
If caddies are allowed (which I disagree with) let your junior play their own game. It is the fastest way to learn. Teeing up the ball for the player is utterly ridiculous. Providing instruction during a competitive round is counter- productive. I relate this to cramming for a final exam the night before. Either you are ready or not.
Having been a parent of a successful junior golfer, I know that a parent’s heart is in the right place. If you truly want to help your child perform to the best of their ability, one of the areas that parents often overlook is equipment. This will undoubtedly help kids to become better golfers and enjoy themselves more. I see the majority of kids playing with clubs that are too long, do not have the proper shaft flex, wrong grip size, worn out grips and/or have the wrong lie angle.
We at the Porzak Golf Academy not only train efficiency in the golf swing but in the pre-shot routine, as well, so the player will know exactly what they are attempting to accomplish. Parents and coaches need to avoid creating an atmosphere of paralysis by analysis. There’s only so much one can say and on the other end retain. Let juniors take responsibility for their own game and allow them to develop a flow for the game that works for them and not someone else. Pace of play will vastly improve and they will enjoy the game so much more.