With each passing day as a parent in my 40’s with two children, I begin to realize two important facts about life and golf. First, golf is the best sport on the planet hands down. No other sport provides the life lessons of hard work, honesty and self responsibility that golf does. Sure team sports are great, but name a team sport where you call your own fouls. Best of all, there are no coaches and/or parents yelling and screaming from the sideline to “play my kid” or “push it up the court” when their team is winning by 40 points before the first quarter has ended. That being said, I have to say it is refreshing to watch a junior golf tournament.
The second fact I have realized recently is junior golf tournaments are FUN. So here is my questions, when did junior golf tournament begin to feel like mini PGA Tour events? This past week I had the opportunity to watch a couple of my students play in an FCWT www.fcwtgolf.com inPhoenix, Arizona. If the name Future Collegiate World Tour didn’t give it away, the host facility ASU Karsten golf course sure did. It is 18-holes of first class golf that is home to the multiple national championship Arizona State Sun Devils. When you walk off the 18 green there is a big leader board which holds a plaque listing the champions who have walked the fairways of this great facility. Let’s just say Phil Mickelson isn’t the only name on the board you would recognize.
If you attend most any big junior golf tournament these days you will see scoreboards, corporate banners, live scoring, player profiles, swing coaches and even college coaches walking the grounds. The atmosphere is intense, challenging and resembles that which you would feel inside the ropes Sunday afternoon at the week’s tour stop. If you think this is the only place to test the game for these young players, think again. Junior tours like the AJGA www.ajga.org, PGA Jr. Series www.pgajuniorseries.com and many local golf association including the First Tee of America www.thefirsttee.org are providing weekly opportunities for 12 to 18 year olds all over the country.
So where does this all leave the kids, parents, coaches and event organizers of these top level junior tournaments? Well, like any youth competition these days you have all ranges of people involved. However, golf is filled with a lot of good people and it would be hard to find a real bad apple in the place. In the end, junior golf is alive, strong and the opportunity for kids to compete while learning some life lessons is abundant. My advice as a parent and golfer; put the baseball, soccer ball and helmet away and put a golf club in your kid’s hands. It’s a great time to be a junior golfer. Can I get one more run at it?