The LTPD Guide has “golfized” the Canadian Sport for Life’s Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model Model to contain eight development stages.
The stages offer a progressive model of development for a player through their development in the sport of golf.
The eight developmental stages of LTPD include:
- Active Start
- Learn to Golf
- Introduction to Competition
- Learn to Compete
- Train to Compete
- Compete to Win
- Golf For Life
Starting with the absolute beginner in the Active Start stage all the way along the trajectory to the Compete to Win stage, LTPD provides a framework guide that outlines appropriate concepts, benchmarks, goals and objectives for each specific stage.
The eighth and final stage included in LTPD—Golf For Life—speaks to golf’s unique nature as an active sport of a lifetime. At any point along the player development trajectory, all participants—from beginners to high performance athletes—can enjoy the health, social and competitive benefits that golf has to offer.
In reading this guide, it is important to note that the stages of LTPD are based on the developmental age of the golfer, NOT the chronological age—this is to account for the maturation of the individual golfer. Chronological ages, however, do provide some foundation as long as the participant’s developmental situation is well understood.
All of the stages outlined in LTPD adapt to guide participant development while also preparing them for a smooth transition into the next stage. As the expectation for proficiency within the sport increases, objectives change accordingly to align with the athlete’s development, hence the final stage named Compete to Win. As such, age and stage appropriate evaluation and assessment should be intertwined with the entire system so that progress can be effectively tracked. Such assessment and evaluation should examine all facets of the game and may or may not involve recognizable forms of competitive golf.
At its core, LTPD is centred on developing players into truly competent athletes, some of whom will have the necessary high level aptitudes and ambition to perform and ultimately win at the highest level of the game. As referred above, it is important to note that everything within this document is structured to flow outwards into the Golf For Life stage, which highlights golf as a unique sport that can be played by all ages and skill levels for a lifetime.
In terms of psychological development, golfers need to develop many skills in order to reach their goals on the course. The best golfers will be able to manage their emotions during a round; stay focused on their process; be skilled at calming strategies; be driven towards reaching their own goals; and be assertive in advocating for their needs along with the ability to communicate those needs to others. On the course, the golfer is resilient, confident and is willing to fail and take chances. They know why they golf and continue to love the game, but also have other interests in their life.
With respect to psychological development, it is important to consider the background (including both culture and family), the personality of the athlete and their level of engagement in this process. It is imperative to meet the player where he/she is at, as every individual has their own sense of readiness for psychological development. In order to accomplish the above, some key mental skills focused on in this document include goal-setting (process versus outcome); imagery; self-talk; ideal performance state; emotional regulation (which include self-awareness); and maintaining perspective.
The physical component of LTPD provides direction for appropriate training in utilizing the main factors contributing to physical ability. These physical factors not only allow the individual to play and compete in golf, but also to provide a healthy basis for life and to be able to deal with travel and other stressors. As with the other elements, the programming guidelines set out in LTPD are established relative to the developmental levels in each respective stage.
Golf is a physically demanding game requiring explosive power coupled with incredible precision and the execution of complex tasks—both cognitive and physical. As an example, the average adult male uses 30 lbs. of muscle and nearly every joint in the body during the golf swing which produces 2,000 lbs. of force in less than a millisecond. Physical training can improve all aspects of a golfer’s performance by enhancing flexibility, increasing club head speed and improving shot accuracy. Ensuring a solid foundation of physical literacy and an ongoing level of endurance will also assist in the prevention of injuries, as well as provide the ability to deal with the many non-sport stressors involved with playing the game competitively (i.e. travel).
Seven key physiologically-related proficiencies identified in LTPD include:
- Agility, Balance and Coordination
- Flexibility or Suppleness
- Core Strength and Stability
- Strength and Power
- Cardiovascular Endurance
- Performance Skills (i.e. nutrition, recovery and regeneration strategies, lifestyle control and dealing with environmental factors)
A number of important ancillary or supporting elements are required to be available, well-understood, practiced, and optimally implemented or utilized in order for a golfer to be ultimately successful. These include, but are not isolated to, elements such as:
- Decision making
- Goal setting
- Periodized, multi-facet planning
- Nutritional support
- Recovery and regeneration strategies including the planning and execution of the prepare, compete, recover cycle
- Rigorous critical review process
From an overall performance standpoint, the following key performance areas should be attended to in an age-appropriate manner:
- Psychological and Cognitive
- Physical and Physiological
All of the key performance areas above can be subdivided into or include specific elements that are important contributors to current and future performance.