(Males 17-22, Females 16-19)


Reinforce, refine and optimize technical, tactical and ancillary skills so that competitive performance of the athlete meets current and future expectations.


The Train to Compete stage focuses on optimizing golf skills in relation to competitive expectations and benchmarks. Athletes should receive tailored annual plans that address their shortcomings as well as future expectations. A one-sport focus towards golf is recommended to achieve maximum results.


Performance benchmarks at this stage become the primary means of assessment for coaches to measure athlete performance.

Ball Speed
+150 mph
Ball Speed
+130 mph
Greens in Regulation

  • 10–12
Greens in Regulation

  • 10–12
Up-and-down percentage inside 50 yards

  • 45–60% from grass
  • 35–45% from sand
Up-and-down percentage inside 50 yards

  • 45–60% from grass
  • 30–40% from sand

  • >95% from 1–3 ft
  • 70–75% from 4–5 ft
  • 40–45% from 6–10 ft
  • 15–25% from 11–15 ft

TrackMan Combine score of 73 plus


  • >95% from 1–3 ft
  • 70–75% from 4–5 ft
  • 35–45% from 6–10 ft
  • 15–25% from 11–15 ft

TrackMan Combine score of 72 plus


  • Centeredness of ball contact—and thorough understanding of the impact conditions and related ball flights.
  • Accuracy and distance control with all clubs.
  • Detailed knowledge of escape shot techniques (fades, draws, ball position, body alignment, clubface angle).
  • Detailed knowledge of trouble shot techniques (punch shots, low shots, high shots, club selection).
  • Detailed knowledge of fairway bunker technique, club selection, quiet legs, ball position, grip.


Choosing an appropriate length course is important in order to enhance the athlete’s learning and enjoyment.

  • Length for males: 6,700–7,200 yards
    • Course rating of 73
  • Length for females: 5,900–6,400 yards
    • Course rating of 73

Golf Course Length Reccomendation



  • PGA of Canada—Coach of Developing Competitor
  • Identification of support team outside of golf specialist (i.e. mental skills, strength and conditioning, physiotherapist, nutritionist and biomechanist)
  • Players beginning to take ownership and responsibility for certain facets of development


  • Individualized practice plans inclusive of random/blocked practice modeling competition.
  • 32–42 weeks per year (indoor and outdoor practice included).
  • 30–40 total training hours per week (inclusive of
    on and off course training).
  • Training week—two to three 18-hole rounds:
    • Practice sessions are three to four hours with varied focus and include rest and recovery breaks
    • Distribution of practice (note: this should be reviewed between the coach and athlete to ensure proper focus based on personal needs)
      • 40% putting
      • 20% short game
      • 40% long game


  • Sample competition week (based on four-round amateur event)
  • arrive at venue; 2 hours of practice at event location
  • warm up 1.5 hours; play 18 holes; 1–2 hours of practice
  • warm up 1.5 hours; play 9 holes (optional); 1–2 hours of practice (course specific)
  • warm up 1.5 hours; 18 holes of competition; post round review; 1 hour minimum practice (dependent on player needs)
  • warm up 1.5 hours; 18 holes of competition; post-round review; 1 hour minimum practice (dependent on player needs)
  • warm up 1.5 hrs; 18 holes of competition; post round review; 1 hour minimum practice (dependent on player needs)
  • warm up 1.5 hours; 18 holes of competition; post competition review; travel


Working with a qualified coach, athletes have now been introduced to a yearly plan that will include a competition schedule with a combination of home club and inter-club events as well as a larger number of competitions outside of the athlete’s home club. A general guideline is set out below and for more details see the Junior Competitive Pathway.

  • Personalized competition plans based on principles of periodization.
  • Ongoing analysis and reflection of importance.
  • Annual review of performance promoting self reflection.
  • 15–25 (multi-round) events per year.


Annual review and refinement of custom fitted equipment inclusive of balls.


  • Introduction to travel, financial planning and media training.
  • Long-term planning—full time golf focus vs. NCAA/CIS post-secondary (what is the best environment for each individual to develop).
  • Introduction to the use of a caddie and their responsibilities.
  • Introduce education on the role of agencies and management companies.
  • Full understanding of the Rules of the Golf as well as anti-doping regulations.
  • Consistent input of statistics for analysis (i.e. Shot by Shot).
  • Advanced course charting and mapping skills.


A well-designed and individualized annual plan for the athlete that is continually reviewed should provide the basis for decisions and programming.

Despite the increased playing volume (both practice and competition), time must be given to establishing a strong physical foundation as the athlete matures. Specialized conditioning personnel working in conjunction with the technical golf coach and other personnel (i.e. physical therapists) should oversee this stage including establishing the program and guidance for conditioning/physical recovery when the athlete is away from their home venue.

A comprehensive program should encompass both traditional and established training methodologies. The program should also allow for golf-specific and innovative elements so as to ensure an optimal result for the athlete. The athlete should become accustomed to utilizing experts from various areas (as required) in order to achieve training and competition objectives. In addition, the ancillary aspects of nutrition and recovery/regeneration should be well thought out, implemented and reviewed at this stage by utilizing experts in these areas in a coordinated fashion.


The Train to Compete stage is an opportunity for the athlete to continue honing his/her mental game. Mental preparation should be a purposeful component of their preparation. The preparation should be individualized and strategies should be in place both to maintain elements such as confidence, but also continually develop skills such as calming and refocus. The athlete should have a well-established competitive and pre-competitive routine and all key stakeholders who are a part of this athlete’s support team should be aware of this information.

The athlete at this stage learns about performing to his/her potential and the things he/she can do to manage challenges that arise along the way. Some core strategies to have as a component of their training plan include: process goals; pre and post-shot routine; calming strategies; focusing and refocusing strategies and a standard debriefing process. The mental strategies and preparation should be fluid – developing and changing as the athlete grows and evolves.

The Learn to Compete and Train to Compete stages are often very similar due to a wide range of physical and mental development. For females, individuals who enter puberty earlier than their peers fall behind late developers and tend to drop out. For males, this trend is reversed. Early development such as getting bigger and stronger often leads to success where late developers may tend to drop out. If they have stayed in sport, late developers eventually catch-up and may pass early developers in physical development.

In the Train to Compete stage, athletes are more engaged in competition with their peers, which can lead to an over-emphasis on outcomes and winning. This can be a positive motivation for some individuals but if they are not successful, it can lead to poor self-esteem, low confidence and a fear of failure. Confidence will be built through work, effort, practice and planning, not solely on results. Coaches can plan for successful experiences by keeping the focus on learning while applying and refining physical and mental skills. Physical and emotional maturity may not develop at the same time so coaches will see a wide range of skills from athletes of different ages and genders.

Support and encouragement based on each individual’s growth will help maintain motivation, selfconfidence and coping with success and failures. Mental skills training can be purposefully introduced to help with preparation for performance and coping with challenges while practicing and competing. Be sure to have the athlete reflect on their learning so they can connect the mental skills with training and competition. Seek out sport psychology resources to enhance the athlete’s mental training program.

Social interaction will also be an important element at this age so allowing time and activities that promote the development of positive relationships will add to the overall learning experience. Females will seek closer relationships than males at this stage. Athletes will be more capable to express feelings, think more abstractly and increase their demonstration for independence. They will be apt to contribute to decision-making and express thoughts that may differ from others.

Offer choices and options in training as well as “what if” scenarios. The teen brain is rapidly changing and the athlete’s executive functioning (self-control; judgment; thought organization; consequences and actions; and moods) are developing. Their ability to visualize future outcomes is appropriate at this age.

Mental Training Framework



Although there are no guidelines of exactly what needs to be achieved by an athlete to have success as a professional, the following results outline what professional golfers have achieved as amateurs before they made a successful transition to the Compete to Win stage:

  • Minimum tournament handicap of +3.0 or better.
  • Inside the top 100 World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) for boys.
  • Inside the top 50 World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) for girls.
  • Win or several (2–4) top 10 finishes in ‘A’ ranked WAGR events.
  • Wins and several (4–6) top 5 finishes in ‘B’ to ‘D’ ranked WAGR events.
  • Excelling at lower level amateur competitions like provincial amateurs or regional events.
  • A top 20 finish in a PGA TOUR Canada event for males.
  • A top 5 in a Canadian Women’s Tour event for females.
  • A top 40 finish in a Tour event for males.
  • A top 20 Symetra Tour event finish for females.
  • A top 60 (or making the cut) finish in a PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour event.

A blend of several of the above guidelines can indicate when an amateur is ready to turn professional. Having a tournament handicap of +3 or better is the steadiest measurement of success and should be referred to often.


  • Males:
    • 0 to +2
  • Females:
    • 1 to +2


(BALYI, WAY, & HIGGS; 2013)

  • Teach players to compete under any kind of condition or circumstance (“Performance on Demand”, Norris, 2000).
  • Training is year-round with high specificity.
  • Training emphasizes the application of basic and sport specific skills under a variety of competition-like conditions during daily training.
  • Optimize all training, competition and recovery programs.
  • Individually tailor physical conditioning programs; recovery programs; psychological preparation; and technical development to a greater degree.
  • Utilize periodization strategies to effectively manage the athlete’s annual and multi-year schedule.
  • Establish, monitor and optimize a taper or approach-to-major-competition strategy.



As the former women’s Team Canada coach and now Team Canada men’s coach, I have had this discussion many times over the years. No doubt, it is a reality check for any promising young golfer, but you have to look hard at the facts.

In reality, it is a rare occurrence when a young man or woman has the realistic choice of turning pro versus going to college or university and continuing their development there. It is every five or 10 or 15 years when a player is ready, both from the game and psychological standpoints, where it is right for them to turn professional. For those rare individuals, that is the right choice. But for the vast majority, continuing on to college is the way to go to mature, gain experience, travel, play against high-level competition to see how they stack up against their peers.

In college, you gain experience in many areas, in addition to honing your game and maturing. You do your own laundry, you have to have the discipline to attend class, you learn time management, living away from home, while still within a supportive framework. You have the support of your college coach, your teammates, your provincial and national golf associations. It’s far different than being on your own on tour.

To me, the major factor is the World Amateur Golf Rankings. If you are in the top 10 or 20 in the world rankings, then the door is potentially open to turning professional. I always recommend looking at the world rankings and what I call acceptable results, that is, great finishes at major events, like the Canadian and U.S. Amateurs, the World Amateur and at events where you are competing against professionals. Good finishes at events like that show you that, hey, I am getting close and maybe I should consider turning professional.

To be blunt, you have to be a winner. You have to win at the junior and amateur levels, against the best competition. Not just locally or provincially, but nationally and internationally. Otherwise, what are your chances of winning as a pro?

Turning pro is not the right thing for everyone. Being a great amateur and getting a good education can help you in business throughout your chosen career. You get to play golf, recreationally, for business, and competitively at a high level, spend time with your family and make a good living.


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

Provincial Golf Associations

  • Offering appropriate training opportunities.
  • Order of Merit rankings maintained.

National Organizations

  • Offering National Team High Performance programs.
  • Talent identification.
  • Tracking and profiling performance of players.
  • Team Canada selection criteria.
  • Providing international training and competition to players.
  • Establish National Order of Merit.


  • Seeking education on both paths—university golf vs. full time golf.
  • Awareness of commitment required to be successful.

Golf Facilities


  • Complete PGA of Canada Coach of Developing Competitors.


  • Preparation for transition to post-secondary golf programs.
  • Provide access to appropriate training facilities and offer appropriate competitive schedule for players.
  • Work with National Team program to ensure appropriate support is available to players year-round.