With the New Year upon us, it's time to start the planning process for a juniors tournament schedule. Many questions such as how many tournaments one should play in and which ones should be considered are important considerations. Obviously, skill level weighs heavily in the planning process. However, regardless of ones level, it is still important to select a few events that you treat as majors. Even if it is a few tournaments on your local tour's seasonal or year-long schedule. Below are several thoughts to be considered.
Step 1 is to identify the 4 or 5 most important tournaments. From there, you can build your remaining schedule around it. Don't make the mistake of thinking every tournament is a major. One should use the events leading up to the most important tones on your schedule as a tune-up. Also, don't schedule too many tournaments back-to-back leading up to your majors. You want your junior tested but fresh. Each junior is different so I refrain from stating a specific number. A parent should know their child's limitations.
I am often asked how many events should a junior play during the course of the year. This depends on whether or not one is of age and playing high school golf. If one is, the additional tournaments scheduled during the high school season should be few. High School golf can be consuming which brings up the point as to whether the top players should even consider playing high school golf. There is good and bad that comes with high school golf when it involves top-ranked juniors.
Step 2 has to do with the process of getting a junior to peak at the right time. There has to be a time of the year when the player is focused on swing mechanics and not competition. I often see players make the mistake of changing swing mechanics too close to the start of competition. Give yourself 3 full months to work on major changes. If you elect to test yourself in competition during this period of time, make sure your junior has the right mind-set of using it as a test. Once the competitive season begins, it is still important to check in with your pro a minimum of once a month. Incorporate this into the planning process.
The question of travel often comes into play. Once again, it has to do with ones skill level. Top-ranked players should travel to test their skills against the best. However, until the player wins or is one of the best players at the local level, they should refrain from traveling. The money saved can be put to better use such as in the area of instruction.
Finally, I believe it is very important to involve your child in the planning process. Let them have some ownership in the final decisions.
Roger Porzak, Director of Youth Development for the Porzak Golf Academy, has extensive first-hand experience planning tournament schedules and traveling throughout the world with juniors. For more information, email him at email@example.com.