Ask the PGA Guy, Part II

This week, some questions from the junior golf world.

Jack from Hinsdale asks: How do I prepare to play college golf?

Big question, Jack, but I will try to give you some ideas here.

Let’s start by saying that college coaches don’t really pay much attention to high school golf. Nine-hole meets and 18-hole invitational events do not truly evaluate golf skill for the next level. College golf is a highly competitive field and is heavily slanted in favor of the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA.org). College tournaments are played over 54 holes so coaches are looking for players that can demonstrate competence in three-round tournaments (read AJGA).

Locally the best events to enter are those run by the MAJGT (Mid-American Junior Golf Tour) that are always two-round events; they do attract some attention. There are a few AJGA tournaments in the Chicago area but to get noticed you probably need to travel a bit, too.

First you will need to join both organizations and then look at the tournament schedule. Focus on a few events at first to get comfortable with the format. Don’t worry if you struggle initially. You are not used to multi day events so use the first one or two to get experience. There are a few other rules involving qualifying for the event proper and you can read those on the site.

Once you are playing regularly you may be “noticed” as college coaches review AJGA tournament results throughout the season. Progress and higher finishes will put you on the coach’s radar and you may be contacted if NCAA rules are followed. While competing, you should start looking at schools where you may be able to play. Check their scores online and compare them to your own. If you are in the ball park score-wise you should contact the coach online and express your interest. He or she will take it from there.

Remember that you are going to college to get a degree first so focus on the academics. There are a few more things that you should know but I don’t have enough space to explain in this blog. Remember that if you do make it, and my daughter did, you will be devoting around 30 hours a week to golf, leaving limited free time. If it is warranted, I will try to write a column on this over the winter. But feel free to email me with other questions.

Samantha from Burr Ridge asks: How often should I practice to be good?

Simply put Samantha, as much as you can. The more you practice, the more natural your swing will become. You should also map out practice sessions to include at least 50 percent of the time on shots from 50 yards and in. Short game is vital for success. Just look how competent tour professionals are around the green. They rarely take more than two shots to get the ball in the hole. Good luck with your practice and your future golf career.

Next week – what’s new in the game?