Thursday, October 01, 2009


If you're a junior golfer, or the parent of a junior golfer, tune in Tuesday at noon Eastern for live advice from Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs. He can help fix your swing (put a video on YouTube for in-depth analysis) and will offer advice to parents and players for how to get the most out of the game. Post your question in the comment space below and come back on Tuesday for the live forum. Thanks to everyone for your questions and input. This is a very important subject that I never get tired of discussing. Please keep in mind that if your heart is set on a college golf scholarship for your child their chances are much better academically. There are only a couple spots that open up each year on each team and the competition is fierce. I am not saying it doesn't happen, but it will be an enormous challenge to say the least. Robert asks at 12:59: my son is
14. Like most golfers he struggles with consistancy especially off the
tee. When he is hitting it well he hits it straight or with a slight
draw. But when he is hitting it bad, he tends to slice it or push it.
What can he do to get more consistant and eliminate the slice ball?
This is a common problem for golfers of all ages, not just juniors. Keep in mind that the slice almost always occurs because the clubface is open and the path is outside-in. Work with your son on hitting big hooks when he begins to slice it. This should obviously be done on the range where he can exaggerate the correction. This is a great way to help juniors begin to fix themselves when the ball is going poorly. As he hits the ball excessively from right to left he will be shaking up the mechanics of his slice and get him back on track.
If it continues to be an issue, post his swing to You Tube and send me a link in the blog. I will give you some direction....Randy asks at 12:50: I have a
13-year-old son who is now an 8 handicap. He is playing a slate of
local junior tournaments in Utah and has been doing well since moving
into the 13-14 group (he was 12 most of the summer). I know people who
put their kid with an instructor and have a "plan" for the future.
Problem is, I work for a university and don't make scads o' cash, plus
I'm a scratch player and me being his only teacher has worked out
pretty well thus far. What do you think? Obviously, if he went on to
play college golf, that would be great...
I think you have done a good job with him so far. My dad taught me until I was about 14. When he didn't know what to say to help me anymore we sought the advice of a professional. It turns out his advice to me was better than any of the pros I worked with. In many cases the instruction you get can be worse than no instruction at all. Always proceed with caution when looking into a new instructor.
This whole "plan" thing is overrated in my opinion. If your kid is enjoying the game, getting better, practicing and playing through his own motivation and loving every minute of it, you are doing it right. Make sure he plays tournaments he can have success in that aren't way over his head talent wise. It can be very depressing to get slaughtered by better players every week. You will know the time to move him up in competition. It sounds to me you guys are doing a great job on your own.
Keep this in mind for the future. If he gets to a point where you feel he isn't getting better, struggling, and you need a new direction, send me an email. I know a good teacher in Utah that can help.

Mikey asks at 12:43: I
am a junior golfer and am struggling with my consistency in my game. I
am confused as to where my arms and club should be at the top of my
backswing. I have been told short people should swing flat and tall
people must swing steeper. But everybody was going on about how flat
Matt Kuchar's backswing is for such a tall and but he hits the ball
How do you know what the perfect backswing is for someone?
Mikey, there is no perfect spot for people to be in at the top. The fact is good players can hit the ball from different positions at the top because they know how to get the club attacking the ball properly on the downswing. The current fad of an ultra flat backswing is just that, a fad. It will go away. You mention Matt Kuchar as a great ball striker but his results have been inconsistent at best since turning professional. What about the swings of Watson, Nicklaus, Norman, Hale Irwin, Tom Weiskopf, and many more who swing upright and have won multiple Major Championships.
The fact is you need to find the swing that works best for you. In most cases the backswing should be fairly neutral in it's lines. That means the left arm should run up through your right shoulder at the top of the backswing with the leading edge of the clubface parallel to the outside of your left arm while the shaft points parallel to the target line. If you try to achieve neutral, your compensations coming down will be minimized and your ballstriking will be more consistent.
Do yourself a favor and video your swing, post it on You Tube and send me a link in next week's blog. I will be happy to give you some direction on how to proceed.Hwang-jae asks at 12:30: I am
currently a junior golfer and I was wondering what kind of chance a
rising senior has with very good academics in making it to the big
college schools such as stanford?
I also have a swing question, one of the few I already asked you, is it
critical to maintain the flat wrist into the follow through even after
you have achieved good impact with hands leading the club? Some of the
good players such as Hunter Mahan has clubs exiting way below the
shoulders indication he recocked his wrist early. I also saw Tiger
Woods (who is suppose to be best at keeping that wrist flat throughout
the follow through until he has to recock the wrist to wrap the shaft
around his body into the finish) and the shaft exits just below the
shoulders indicating late recocking of the wrist. When is it okay to
recock your wrist into your follow through?
Let me answer your first question about making it to Stanford. The fact is that each year there are between 0-3 spots that become available on most college golf teams. Combined together those spots have roughly 1/2 to 1 full scholarship available to be broken up however the coach sees fit. When you are talking about Stanford or any other big time program they have their pick of the best players in the country AND the best players in the WORLD. That's right, they recruit players from all four corners of the globe. So, if you haven't been approached, contacted, recruited, or begged by a college golf coach to play at their school don't hold your breath.
With that said, there are plenty of options. You can get playing time at smaller Div II and Div. III schools with great academics. You can play at a Junior College for a couple years and try to build up your resume and credentials. I would never say you couldn't eventually make it to where you want to go, but please be realistic and understand the facts about college golf.
Your swing question is easier. The left wrist must be flat at impact, that's it. When it loses it's flatness depends upon the strength of your grip in the address, the ball flight you are trying to create, and the trajectory of the shot you are hitting. There is absolutely no need to keep the left wrist bent as long as possible. I can show you hundreds of swings of great players that lose the flat left wrist just after impact. Don't get lost on this technical issue, it will destroy your ability to hit the driver consistently and can actually lead to wrist injuries.Overobsessed asks at 12:25: My wife
is three months pregnant, what advice can you give us to help nurture
our developing fetus into a world class golfer? From the ultrasound
images so far it looks like he/she has a solid grip, nice posture and
excellent mental toughness. Any advice is appreciated.
You would be surprised to know that this question has been asked of me before. It can be very scary what goes through the minds of some people. You were kidding, right?Gil asks at 12:13: How much
should a 7th grade girl be required to practice in order to play well
enough to receive a college scholarship? How often should she get
lessons from a professional instructor?
I wish I had a simple answer for you but there are way too many variables involved to tell you how much any player should practice to get a scholarship. The most important thing to do is seek out the advice of a good instructor in your area known for working with good young players that can figure out where her game is right now. Lessons can obviously help, but you need to find someone who has proven success with juniors or you can make things worse.
I can tell you this. I have never known a good player who didn't love to practice. This is especially true for juniors. If the player has to be asked, begged, enticed, bribed, etc. to practice then you should back off. If they don't love it, they will never be great at it and more importantly they will eventually HATE it if they are pushed. Kevin asks at 12:06: I've
heard that the best approach with young kids (8 and under) is to teach
them two things only: a proper grip and have them swing to full follow
through (weight on forward foot, hips facing target...) I've stuck to
this approach with my six-year-old and he hits the ball pretty well,
but he still has some fundamental flaws. Do you recommend sticking with
the simple approach or getting a little more technical.
That's a very good question Kevin. I am going to give you an answer that probably doesn't help by telling you every kid is different. If your son is able to focus and digest some more specific information then give it a try. Just make sure you make the process fun.
When it comes to the best approach to teach young kids I can assure you there is no ONE way. With my own kids, I showed them video of Annika swinging from a couple different camera angles several times and told them to try to copy her. The results were quite remarkable. It proved to me that my input should be limited to positive feedback with very little emphasis on the technical. As they get older and more interested in the game, I will adjust. It sounds to me things are going well so far for you, trust your instincts and make sure he feels the joy when he succeeds. Posted by RWH at 12:00: A
freshman in highschool starting the golf team and has played 50-60
tournaments and always at top 10% of players in JRSCPGA what to you
recommend for tips and direction. Studies are excellent yet timely for
any practice time.
With that many tournament rounds under your belt with good results you should be progressing to the next level of competition. SCPGA is great, but you should be working your way into the Toyota Tour Cup events. On a national level, the FCWT and IJGT are good options to start testing yourself on an even tougher stage. Keep in mind that while High School golf is fun, it is fairly irrelevant to college coaches when compared to national junior events and your performance in the AJGA.

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