Saturday, October 1, 2011

What Do I See When I Recruit?

Many players and parents ask, "what are coaches looking for when they watch golf?"  I can only speak for myself and what I hope to see in young players.  If you want to get my attention, hit it long.  That will make me follow along for at least a few holes.  If you want to keep my attention, roll the ball well on the greens.  By that I mean, control the speed of your putts and if you don't make everything, look as though you would on another day.  If you do those things well, and have a great attitude, you will hook me.

This is my favorite comic of all time.  If I could print it and hand it to junior golfers, I think it might bring a smile and better body language.  Fake it 'til you make it means act like you want to feel.

What makes a great attitude?  I like it when you respect your opponents, no matter how they are playing.  I like to see you smile and look as though you are enjoying yourself.  I like it when you have a quick pace of play.  I like it when you celebrate good things and let go of mistakes.  I like it when a big number is followed by a small number.  I like it when you are respectful to your parents, even when you just made a triple on the final hole.  I like it when you look like a confident player and not a drama queen.  I like it when you work hard before, during and after a round.

Finally, and most importantly, I like winners.  If you are the best player in a high school event, you should win the event.  As you challenge yourself with tougher fields on a regional or national level, you should figure out how to win at that level.  The way to do that is to embrace your strengths, never compare yourself to others and work on getting rid of your weaknesses.  In other words, figure out who you are, what you want your game to look like and work on it every day.  One mistake that young players make when they move from one level of competition to another is to believe they have to change their game to be successful.  These changes usually come at a vulnerable time when good results will already be tough to come by because of the better competition.  I have seen great, young players so shaken by the combination of changes and tough competition that their confidence never fully recovers.  Timing is everything as you are learning the game and how to compete. 

Here are some things that I want to see as a coach:

Forget putting notes on your reports of tournament rounds, such as windy or rainy.  We want players who score no matter what, so your note alerts me to the fact that you have excuses at the ready.

Put your most recent scores at the top.  Don't make me figure out what you are doing now by sorting through four years of scores.

If you want to play college golf, you should be the person communicating with me.   I can tell when emails are written by your parents and their phone calls don't mean as much as if you called me.

Improvement is important, but it doesn't mean as much as current results.  Don't put all your eggs in the improvement basket when you write a letter.  It is my job to judge your potential and your job to fulfill it.  Does your potential as a player mean more if you have further to go to win on the college level?

What is Lexi Thompson's potential? 

Here is some advice as you go through the process:

Talk to current players on as many teams as you can about all teams for whom you might play.  Players know the inside scoop and will share if asked.

Look at the recruiting process as a long one.  Have patience, gather information, don't panic when a few people commit and find the right fit for you.  If you are a good player, it will work out.

Play a lot.  Play in tournaments you can win.  Don't get so focused on national tours that you forget to play local stuff where you can dominate.

Have fun!  Golf is a game you should play for itself, not to get a scholarship.  If you keep that attitude, the scholarship will be a great bonus for loving a game you can play the rest of your life.

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