May 15, 2012 by  

This is the first article in a four part series, designed to prepare junior golfers for the upcoming summer tournament season

Contributed by Scott King, PGA

It’s May 15th, and you have decided that today is the day that you want to plan your summer junior golf tournament schedule.  School gets out in about a month, so you should have plenty of time to schedule the events you want to play in.  You fire up the computer and start going to the different tournament websites to check schedules, and see where and when you want to play.  This shouldn’t take long as there are so many events listed, and you should be able to just sign up for what you want, when you want it.  Yep, this will be easy and not take much time at all to figure out.  Uhmmm….wrong!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work that way.  You are actually about three months behind in this process, as many summer schedules, registrations, and applications have been available since February.   But don’t panic!  There is still time, but you should try to get everything planned in the next few days or it will, actually, be almost too late.  Here is what I suggest to do, and try to get it done this week.

Where to start?  The first thing I suggest is to get or print out a blank calendar, one where you have enough space to write something on specific dates.  Start checking your family schedule and other activities already planned (summer vacation, camps, other sporting activities, etc.) and get them on the calendar first.  This will give you an idea of when you will actually be able to play.

Next, I would consider your talent level…and be honest.  How good are you?  If you are new to tournament golf, you should not be looking at the AJGA, IJGT, FCWT, or other junior tours or events that will get you out of your comfort zone.  You are not ready for it yet, and the time will come when you may want to test the waters of a more competitive event, but not at first.  There are several area junior tours and events to get you started.  US Kids Golf, the First Tee, the LJGA, as well as county, park, and community tournaments are available throughout the summer.  If you belong to a Country Club or there is a public course that organizes one, inter-club teams offer competition for both nine and eighteen hole players. 

If you are a fairly seasoned tournament player, local and state events (MAPGA, VSGA, CAGT, Elite Players) are a great way to compete with better players and have opportunities to advance to season ending championships and invitational tournaments.  You will find a vast array of talent at this level, so this will be a good way to gauge where you are with your game.  Those of you who compete at regional and national levels already have your schedule made (or should!).  For instance, US Open qualifiers have already begun, and the qualifiers for the Scotty Robertson have past, with the tournament being held May 18-20.  The AJGA schedule is in full swing, with an event in Delaware already played last week.

Next, with a pencil, start filling in the days with all available tournaments.  I would look at events you want to play in first, and then add the events you “can” play in…ones you can get into.   You will see that many tournaments overlap or are back to back.  Some tournaments are “open events”, some are “invitationals”, and some you may have to “qualify” for.   Be sure you understand the criteria for each event and make a note of it.   This will help determine what you can play in.

Once you have everything written down, you will need to determine your budget for the season.  Many tours and organizations will have registration fees as well as entry fees, so be prepared for that when joining multiple tours.  Junior golf events can be fairly inexpensive or almost require a second mortgage, especially when you start looking at multi-day events where you have to travel, stay and play.  You may want to plan your vacation days to coincide with these types of tournaments, and look at events near a college or university that you may want to attend…this too will allow you to do several other things while playing in a tournament.  Once you have an idea of what you can spend, start pricing each event.  It adds up quick, so your tournament schedule may mostly depend on what you can afford to play in. 

Once you have your budget, start to register for the events you want to play in.  You obviously want to play as much as possible, but make sure you give yourself time to practice, rest, and recover.  Even plan for “non-golfing” days – days to get away from golf for a bit to re-energize, and do something else fun…its summer time.  Once you are registered or accepted into an event, be sure to keep your back up plan still on the calendar, as it will/can change week to week.  Qualifiers and match play events can end quickly or go on for an entire week, so depending on how you play, you may have to withdraw or try to add an event at the last minute.

Finally, plan ahead.  For local events…how will you get there and back?  Most events are very early in the morning so getting there and back can be hectic.  Organize car pools or arrange for reliable transportation.   Flights, reservations, and car rentals are essential for away events.  Be sure to have a good idea when each event will begin and end…getting there late or missing a flight back can be costly.  Try to have a backup plan as well, as last minute adjustments always seem to come up.

So in summary –

  1. Get a calendar you can write on.
  2. Determine what level of competition would be best for you.
  3. Get it on paper.
  4. Budget.
  5. Register.
  6. Plan.

I hope that his helps you get started with planning or completing your junior golf summer schedule.  As you become more accustomed to the process, it gets easier.  The best thing to do is to start early.  If you are a little late this year, you won’t be next year…and start thinking about the fall already if you plan to play during or after the high school season.  It’s not that far off.

Next time, we will look at preparing to play in your first events… what you should be doing in the coming weeks (yes weeks!), to be as prepared as possible to compete at your highest level.  The summer season is just around the corner!  Will you be ready? 

Scott King is the Head Coach of the George Mason University Men’s Golf Team.  He is a PGA Teaching Professional and has been a PGA Class A Professional for more than 17 years.  Scott serves as the Tour Director for the US Kids Golf Northern Virginia Summer Local Tour and the Historic Triangle Winter Local Tour.  He is a US Kids Golf Certified Instructor and a two-time US Kids Golf Top 50 instructor.


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