This week, Kearney Hills Golf Links in Lexington, Kentucky will be hosting the Boys Junior PGA Championship.
The Junior PGA Championships see the absolute best junior golfers from around the country tee it up and there is a long history of past participants including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Champ, Pat Perez, David Toms, and Stewart Cink, that have gone on to golf stardom.
One thing I am constantly talking about with my juniors, as well as their parents, is the idea of managing expectations and setting realistic goals during this pivotal point in their golf journey. The game offers ample opportunities for golfers in the early stages of their development to compete and experience everything that goes along with it, however, without carefully navigation during this time, things do have the potential to go off the rails fast and could in fact lead to things like burnout or a desire to leave golf altogether.
Some tips on managing expectations and goals…
Always, no matter what, keep it Fun!
Golf is a game, and like all games, the main purpose of playing is to have fun. In my mind, it does not matter if you’re a golfer with +4 handicap or just starting to break 100, you must, above and beyond anything else, keep the love of the game at the forefront.
High-level golfers surely spend a great deal of time practicing and playing...why would anyone that is spending many, many hours doing something, do it without enjoying it?
Hard work should never equate to something that is not enjoyable. Whether it is listening to music while they practice, taking frequent breaks, hanging with golf friends and having friendly competition, or anything similar, you should always enjoy and play down the notion of their practice time being "work."
Every outcome, good or bad, is a chance to learn!
Making sure that you understand golf scores do not define the individual is incredibly important. Even without pressure coming from a support system, there still is an incredible amount of pressure that golfers put on themselves. To a point, it is indeed important to have your junior hold themselves to a defined standard, based on where their games are at currently.
However, if this is not managed correctly, through continuous and caring conversation, your child could be putting undue pressure on themselves which could equate to roadblocks in their development.
Golf is very much a mental game, that is common knowledge, but the idea of mental roadblocks being self-induced because of poorly managed expectations rarely gets talked about, especially among better players. Learning to take the good with the bad and more importantly, taking the bad as an opportunity to become better, rather than getting upset by it, is a sign of a mature golfer. It is also the sign of a golfer that will more likely than not, find ongoing successes.