The challenges of high school golf

Last week I went over the best things about high school golf, now for the not-so-good things. These are mainly aimed at the elite players who want to go on to play after high school and are therefore aimed at a narrower audience. If your child is happy to be part of the team and has no higher aspirations, you can probably skim the rest of this for information only.

The biggest negative is all the nine-hole matches. Daylight and school hours prohibit playing 18 after school, but there is little to be learned playing nine holes. Players can often score well in shorter games but struggle when it comes to longer events. On top of that, the reason that college coaches don’t really pay attention to high school golf is that most college tournaments last 54 holes. In fact, the only tournament that college coaches will watch is the state championship, a 36-hole event. Elite players will often skip the high school season for this reason.

Coaching can be good or bad depending on the coach. Most coaches let the kids play. Unfortunately, there are a few who watch the Golf Channel so they feel that they are qualified to teach their players. Their messages will often contradict what their professional coach is telling them and will do more harm than good. I have watched shows about brain surgery, but there is no way I would let me operate on anyone!

The IHSA has complete control over the athletes (not only in golf), so it is difficult to coach multiple members of a team at the same time. I have never understood that as there is no part of the game that involves two players passing to each other or covering mistakes. Basically there are just too many rules and I feel that they harm the better players.

On occasion, courses being used are not really up to standard. Some even have mats for tees. No real golf course uses a mat for a teeing ground. Green speeds can vary wildly from one meet to the next due to the maintenance practices at different facilities.

Lastly, the time taken to play one nine-hole match is extremely long. Players often do not get home from meets until after 9 p.m., and then they have to do homework.

In conclusion, parents need to take an active interest in their children’s golf “careers” and decide what is best for them if they aspire to play golf in college.

Next week – a look back at this weekend's BMW Championship at Conway Farms.


Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at