Going to College is devoted to helping
junior golfers and their parents better
understand the college recruitment process
and to providing insight on what qualities
are necessary for young players to compete
successfully at the collegiate level. Each
month, a popular topic will be discussed to
offer advice and counsel to interested
juniors and their parents.
Going to College Authors
As a former college golf coach and someone who has worked with talented junior and collegiate players for over 25 years, John is well qualified to help families navigate junior golf and manage college placement. For this purpose, he founded Red Numbers Golf®
in 2003. [click for picture and bio
Ted Gleason founded Road To College Golf
in 2006 to assist junior golfers and their families with the College placement process. Formerly the Head Golf Coach at both the University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University. [click for picture and bio
As an independent consultant, Nicky Goetze
specializes in providing expert guidance to families as they pursue college Golf. He helps young players and their parents maximize opportunities at the junior golf level and more effectively handle the college placement process. [click for picture and bio
Is playing a practice round important?
Establishing a game plan prior to a tournament can ensure you are ready to play.
Do you take practice rounds prior to a
tournament seriously? After completing a
practice round, do you have a game plan for the
tournament? Are you keeping score in a practice
round and then setting a score expectation for
the tournament? Ask yourself these questions as
summer approaches and you ready yourself for the
tournament circuit. Many of you will be playing
in multi-day tournaments or high-level one-day
qualifiers like the US Junior qualifier this
summer. Playing a practice round for these
types of events will allow you to create an
effective game plan for the tournament.
Establishing a game plan/strategy during a
practice round was my players’ top priority
during my college golf coaching days. An
effective practice round can go a long way to
being well prepared for tournament competition.
Establishing productive practice round habits
as a junior golfer will enable you to be well
prepared for your tournaments now as well as for
your college golf practice rounds in the future.
The following are a number of “keys” to
consider prior to and during a practice round:
- Utilizing the practice round as a means to
understand the conditions of the golf course and
to establish a game plan given your golf skill
set; do not make the practice round about
shooting a certain score. Playing a practice
round for a score can create unnecessary
expectations for the tournament.
- Prior to the practice round, talk to the
head professional and/or pro shop staff
regarding any local knowledge tips and/or
pointers about the golf course. Perhaps ask if
there are any key holes on the golf course that
typically cause players trouble or if putts tend
to break towards a certain landmark throughout
the golf course.
- Purchase a yardage book if available in
the pro shop. If not, you can make a detailed
yardage book on your own. This would include
landing areas off the tee, carry yardages over
bunkers/water/doglegs, green depths, charting
tiers, low points and slopes on the greens;
layup areas on par 5s and acceptable places to
“miss” shots both off the tee and approach shots
into the greens. Charting your own yardage book
certainly requires a bit more work, but assists
you in becoming more vested in the practice
round as wells as more aware of the nuances of
the golf course. Creating your own yardage book
or adding to an existing yardage guide available
in the pro shop is common practice during
college practice rounds and is a good idea to
develop these habits during your junior golf career.
- Establish a game plan off the tee by knowing
the landing areas for par 4s and par 5s. Some
may be obvious and not require much thought,
while other landing areas may include bunkers,
hazards and/or doglegs requiring more of your
attention. It is important to know the actual
yardage to the desired landing area, especially
holes with potential hazards/dog-legs, and not
just deem it a “3 wood” or “driver” hole.
Conditions in a practice round could be much
different than the actual tournament and these
varying conditions (i.e. wind, temperature,
firmness of fairways) can affect how far the
ball carries and subsequently rolls. Make note
of these landing areas and be aware of the
conditions so you can make the best choice off
the tee during the tournament.
- Hit a shot or two from the rough, fairway
bunker, and/or green side bunkers during the
practice round to ensure you are comfortable
with the effect these conditions may have on the
golf ball. Preparing for the unexpected is an
important part of playing an effective practice
- Spend the majority of your time on and
around the greens establishing a feel for the
firmness and speed of the greens. Adjusting to
the speed of the greens on a new golf course is
an essential key in having a productive practice
round. Hitting a number of lag putts throughout
your practice round is recommended.
Additionally, understanding how chips/pitches
react on their “first bounce” will allow you to
better gauge/judge your short game shots during
the tournament. During this time around the
greens, you can also scan the green to identify
potential hole locations, the low point(s) on
each respective green and where the best place
to “miss” from the fairway might be so you can
get up-and-down more easily (eliminating the
possibility of short-siding yourself).
- If you are playing in a multi-day event,
remember to continuously learn about the golf
course during each competitive round as you may
learn something new in the first round that you
were not aware of during the practice round.
This extra piece of information may become
useful in subsequent rounds.
Remember, the goal of a practice round is not
to keep score, but to learn as much as possible
about the golf course conditions to ensure you
have an effective game plan in place and that
your game plan is realistic given your golfing
skills. Although practice rounds may not be as
much “fun” as the actual tournament, they can
serve as a means to be well prepared for
anything that comes your way during the actual
event. Therefore, look forward to making the
most out of your next practice round.
Good luck this summer!