INTRODUCTION TO COMPETITION

(Males 11-14, Females 11-13)

OBJECTIVE

Continue to reinforce basic and golf fundamental movement skills and build those skills into introductory competitive experiences, ideally now under the guidance of a PGA of Canada professional with Coach of New Competitor training.

INTRODUCTION

The Introduction to Competition stage is a very significant period of development.
Physiologically, this is a stage when children go through significant rapid growth periods which will affect their coordination.

The focus of this stage is to provide appropriate competitive experiences where winning and results are not the top priority.

In this stage, individuals interested in the sport of golf should consider making it one of their top two sports with their other favourite sport(s) in opposite seasons (i.e. golf in the spring and summer and another sport such as hockey, basketball, etc. in the late fall and winter).

Establishing appropriate competitive environments where the competition is positioned as a learning experience and designed to encourage and nurture interested players is paramount.

KEY CONCEPTS

Develop

  • Putting, chipping, pitching, full swing, greenside bunker play, green reading and club selection.

Introduce

  • Fairway bunkers
  • Specialty shots (knock-down, flop shot, etc.)

PERFORMANCE BENCHMARKS

Performance benchmarks are very general at this stage and more of an indication to help coaches communicate to players and families if they are progressing appropriately. Performance benchmarks should be viewed against the recommended golf course length for this stage.

Number of greens hit in regulation
Male Female
5–9 5–9
Up-and-down percentage inside 50 yards
Male Female
20–40% from grass 20–40% from grass
20–30% from sand 15–25% from sand
Putting
Male Female
>90% from 1–3 ft >85% from 1–3 ft
50–70% from 4–5 ft 50–70% from 4–5 ft
25–35% from 6–10 ft 25–35% from 6–10 ft
8–15% from 11–15 ft 8–15% from 11–15 ft

WHERE TO PLAY

As skills are developing quickly and varying greatly in this stage, the length of golf course played should be carefully considered and based on swing/driver ball speed whenever possible. Choosing an appropriate length course will enhance learning and enjoyment. The information below are general guidelines and will assist in tee selection and course set up, however, refer to the chart for a more appropriate yardage based on how far an player hits the ball.

  • Course length for males: 5,600–6,600 yards
  • Course length for females: 5,200–6,000 yards

Golf Course Length Reccomendation

 

COACHING/INSTRUCTION

All instructors and coaches undergo PGA of Canada training that is entirely specific to the type of player or athlete they wish to work with. The recommended level for this stage is listed below:

  • Coach of New Competitor

PRACTICE

Type: Dominated by random practice encouraging decision making in a variety of environments.
Duration: 45–90 minutes per session
Volume: 5–7 hours per week of practice

COMPETITION

Players in this stage have a wide variety of developed skill and competitive experience. Relative newcomers to golf can gain skill and confidence through practice, playing and support from a qualified coach who will recommend an appropriate competition schedule with a combination of club, interclub and outside events as set out below.

Total of 7–15 events

  • 9-hole: 1–2 events
  • 18-hole: 3–8 events
  • 36-hole: 2–3 events
  • 54-hole: 1–2 events

EQUIPMENT

It is important that players in this stage have custom-fitted equipment—correctly fit for length, lie, weight, shaft flex, head design and set composition.

Note that depending on growth spurt (PHV) patterns, players in this stage may need to change their equipment during the season if they outgrow it. Players should only have clubs that they outgrow and should never be forced to grow into clubs.

GOLF KNOWLEDGE

PHYSICAL

In general, the vast majority of the player’s physical activity will take place outside of golf during this stage of their development. Young players should be vigorously encouraged to play many different sports on a seasonal basis, as well as to try different physical activities (at school, at home, with their friends and parents, as well as through more structured community sport or club programs). Opportunities for unstructured or play activity should (where possible) make up the majority of a young player’s physical activity time.

However, the opportunity for more specific (but clearly fundamental, age-appropriate tasks) physical activity experiences can be initiated by golf professionals and support staff. Such programmed activities will involve recognizable elements as well as less obvious, perhaps even surprising components.

Flexibility/suppleness should be central to many activities due to the challenge of growth and development through this stage. Introductory education and strategies concerning nutrition and recovery/regeneration should be evident throughout this stage in an age-appropriate manner.

PSYCHOLOGICAL

In this stage, as players begin to enter more meaningful competitions, it will be important to have a debriefing process in place to allow the individual to learn from every round of golf they play. It is particularly important that the coach help the player draw lessons from negative experiences and consider how they might handle a similar situation differently in the future.

Coaches should help players develop strategies to maintain and nurture confidence, similar to maintenance practice for other aspects of their game. Players should begin to refine and hone their specific mental skill strategies including pre and post-shot routine, focusing/refocusing strategies and calming/arousal regulation. An individualized evaluation of mental skills might be considered and programming should be based on this.

In this early adolescence stage, players will experience physical puberty, emotional tendencies, moodiness, an increased interest in their peers and a greater ability to think in abstract ways. This includes seeing alternative ways of doing tasks and seeing consequences of their actions. They will slowly want more decision-making involvement and be able to learn through questions and activities which allow them a way to figure out answers for themselves.

Younger players in this group may not clearly understand the meaning of some mental skills with self-talk and relaxation being a bit more challenging than goal setting and imagery. Coaches will also notice early and late developers at this stage, where girls may enter the adolescence process around 10–11 years of age and boys beginning about two years later.

Be aware that players may look more mature than they are able to act. Also at this level, sport specialization is not encouraged. The individual may have a preference of one sport over another, but participation in other activities is beneficial for athletic development. Competition at this level is also important with the emphasis on learning to compete rather than win. For long-term results, 70% of time in sport should be spent in practice. Create competition settings with fun activities focused on participation and learning.

Mental Training Framework

ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS

A continuation of fundamental development coupled with introductory level competition designed to bring together practice and performance experiences.

GOLF CANADA HANDICAP FACTOR

While not as relevant to this stage as later stages, Handicap Factor can still measure a player’s scoring ability against different golf courses over a period of time (up to the last 20 scores). For an overview of Handicap Factor Levels for each stage, see the Junior Competitive Pathway.

INTRODUCTION TO COMPETITION CHECKLIST:

(BALYI, WAY, & HIGGS; 2013)

  • Keep sport and physical activity fun.
  • Understand the likely challenges of growth and development that will impact this stage and design programming appropriately.
  • Continue to develop all fundamental movement skills and teach general, overall sport skills.
  • Emphasize flexibility training given the rapid growth of bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles.
  • Understand the sport-specific technical skills required according to a golf-specific technical checklist and ensure that attention is given to establishing and reinforcing these skills at all times.
  • Repetitive unstructured and imaginative play helps to develop, reinforce and master skills.
  • Ensure that developing players are involved in building personal endurance and physical literacy.

GREAT DEBATE—WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INSTRUCTOR AND A COACH?

GLENN CUNDARI, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, PGA OF CANADA

This is not a cut-and-dried question. The lines are somewhat blurred.

While a coach may also be an instructor, it is unlikely an instructor would be a coach. It is very important to realize that these two vital roles do not belong in separate silos; they are symbiotic, complementary, two of the concentric circles that ensure the complete development of an athlete. Note I say athlete and not golfer. I will explain the difference shortly. In general, instructors are often, but not always, technically focused. They understand and can communicate the golf swing. Coaches take a holistic approach. A good analogy would be the general contractor of a clubhouse, for example. They have a long-term vision of what the finished product should look like but they are not necessarily experts in electrical, plumbing, flooring, etc., but they need to know enough about each topic to be able to articulate what is required. They source the best individuals they can find in those areas to ensure the finished structure is the best it can possibly be and satisfies their ultimate vision. The same could be said of the best hockey coaches. They may not be able to help their players skate faster or shoot better, but they know if they hire the best people to teach those skills, they will accomplish their ultimate goal.

Similarly, golf coaches seek out the best they can find in different fields so their athlete can reach their full potential: Experts in developing athletic abilities, nutrition, course management, risk management, mental skills, and so on. This said, at the younger ages, coaches of new competitors are usually doing it all, leading all of these areas needed to develop athletes.

You have to differentiate between a golfer and an athlete. Instructors lead golfers. Coaches lead athletes. Golfer and athletes lead different lifestyles when it comes to their development in the sport. Instructors can help golfers become the best golfer they can be, to lower their handicap, enjoy golf more or even to win their club championship, for example. Their involvement is specific and usually of a shorter time frame: some sessions on the range, perhaps a playing lesson and possibly some equipment fitting. Coaches will work with athletes over the long-term to ensure they develop into the best athlete they can possibly be through strategic training and tournament planning, focused on their ultimate goal, which may include playing collegiate or professional golf.

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

The groups below outline the key stakeholders that are associated with this stage and what is needed from each to succeed. The help and support from the following stakeholders is vital for complete development:

Junior Tours

Parents

  • Consider making golf one of the top two sports played and practiced.
  • Should become familiar with the paths available for competitive golf.

Golf Facilities

Golf Associations

  • Golf Canada to deliver LTPD content along with respective program development as a result of the work within LTPD; continue to lead research efforts.
  • PGA of Canada to promote the LTPD Guide to its membership base and are engaged in the development of national programming.
  • Provincial Golf Associations to support and execute on national programs at the provincial level; run development opportunities for both coaches and players.
  • National Golf Course Owners Association to be aware of the LTPD Guide and promote to its membership base.

Coaches