Junior golfers and their parents should be asking a lot of questions and learning as much as they can about golf and playing tournaments in order to improve and enjoy the game. Send your questions here and 2 pretty experienced junior golfers will do their best to give you great answers you can use in Junior Golf Q & A with the Mac brothers!
I won my first tournament a few days ago and I had to say a speech afterwards. I didn't know what to say and I was so embarrassed. What would be a good thing to say? JP in MO
I totally understand you. Every time I win a tournament I really don't like having to do the speech. It's one of the most stressful things in golf for me. But well done for winning and you do get better at it every time you do it.
First off you would say thank you to the golf club that hosted the tournament and also to the people who ran the tournament and to your parents. You should also thank your playing partners and caddy if you had one. When saying the speech try and talk loudly and clearly.
This is an example of what I would say : First off I would like to thank (name of the golf club) for hosting this amazing tournament. I really enjoyed it and the course was in great shape. I would also like to thank US Kids Golf (or whoever organized the tournament) for putting on this tournament and I would like to thank my dad (or mom) for bringing me here today and supporting me and caddying for me (if you had a caddy).
This is Rob and I would like to add that it would not be stressful for me to do a speech. I would like to do the speech and it would be fun but I just would have to win a big tournament first.
I am 7 years old and have only played a few US Kids tournaments. My dad caddies for me but he does not play golf and doesn't even know the rules. What are the most important rules for us to know playing these tournaments? JJ in MI
Hey JJ. Well, there are 5 rules for certain that you need to know first : Out of Bounds, Lost Balls, Unplayable Lies, Cart Path Relief and Hazards.
I think OB is the worst penalty you can get and I've got it often. If you can pretty much always keep your drive straight off the tee you won't get too many OBs but sometimes it just happens! Your ball is OB if you hit it beyond the white stakes that are sometimes on the edge of a golf course. Then you have to go back to where you have just hit it from and take a penalty stroke. So if you hit OB off the tee then you go back to the tee and hit again and your score at this point will be 3 (drive, drop, drive again).
If you cannot find your ball you have 5 minutes to look for it. If you cannot find it you have to go back to where you hit your last ball and take a penalty stroke.
If you hit a ball and it comes to rest in a place (not a hazard) where you really don't think you can play it from you can call it unplayable ball. You then have 3 options. 1. Take a drop within 2 club lengths (1 penalty stroke). Remember that if you drop and it rolls back into an unplayable lie you have to hit it where it is or you can take another unplayable drop and penalty stroke. 2. Go back and take a drop from where you hit the ball originally (1 penalty stroke). 3. Take a drop anywhere on the backwards extension of the line from the pin to where your ball is (1 penalty stroke). One day I (Rob) thought I would be a hero and hit it hard out from a terrible place in very deep rough - I did not want to call an unplayable and take a penalty shot. Well I hit it as hard as I could and it went about 10 inches into even worse stuff. 2 clubs were not going to bring me relief and it was just woods behind me so I could not go back on to the backwards extension. The problem was that taking an unplayable now meant that I had to go back 10 inches into the deep stuff that I had just tried to hit out of. The moral of the story is that sometimes it is better to be safe and take one penalty stroke and go back to a safe place.
If you hit a shot and it lands on the cart path or near the cart path but your feet would be touching the cart path if you take your stance to hit the ball - then you get cart path relief. There are no penalty strokes with taking cart path relief. You will need to find the nearest point that you can take your stance and play your shot then drop your ball within 1 club length of this point and no closer to the hole and play from this point.
If your ball goes into the water it depends on what color the stakes are as to what relief you get. If the hazard is yellow you have 2 options. 1. Drop the ball (1 penalty stroke) on the backwards extension line from the pin to the point of entry of your ball into the water. 2. Drop the ball (1 penalty stroke) at the site of your last stroke. If the hazard is red then you have the same options for yellow stakes plus you can drop the ball (1 penalty stroke) within 2 clubs of where your ball went into the hazard. Remember also if you are in a hazard that you can't ground your club in the hazard or touch the hazard with your hand. If you do that would be 2 penalty strokes added to your score.
You will find that you learn the rules as you go along but these are 5 main ones that you should have an idea about before you start playing tournaments.
Have you ever had a penalty called on you? Louis in KY
Rob: I have. One time when I was playing in a US Kids State tournament I accidentally marked my ball just off the green. I don't know what I was thinking. I realized my mistake and called the penalty on myself. Once I was playing in Florida and chipping up a very grassy hill to the green. I put my club too close behind the ball and the ball moved. I had to call a penalty on myself for that too. Last week at a US Kids tournament one player asked another player what club he used to hit a shot and he answered. The dad that was caddying for another boy in the group called the penalty on both the guys. You can't ask what club someone used for a shot or answer that question otherwise it will be a penalty.
Connor: I received one when I was playing a tournament in Florida. On the first hole I hit the ball into the bunker. I already wasn't happy so when I hit the ball in the bunker and it stayed in the bunker I slammed the club down and that was a stroke penalty. I have not done that again!
What do you think is a good warm up routine before a tournament? HS in GA
Rob: First, for warming up, you should swing through your clubs on the driving range to warm up your body and loosen your muscles. Next you should do some chipping to see how the greens roll out. Lastly you should putt on the practice green to know and learn the speed of the green.
Connor: Those are the basics but you need some details. You should warm up for about an hour before your tee time leaving time to get to the first tee 10 minutes before your tee time. Before you start hitting balls on the range I usually do a few warm up stretches then I hit some half shots just to loosen my muscles. When I start hitting balls I usually go up in 2 club increments. I start with a pitching wedge. Once I am feeling good about my shots I usually go down to the putting green to do some chipping and putting. I do some chip and runs, flops, shots from the fringe, and shots from the rough to see how the balls roll out. Then I move on to putting. I hit some long putts first to get the speed, then some short ones for my stroke, then some of the distance I think I will have most on the course. Usually after that, if I have time, I go up to the range to hit one last good drive, but if not I head to the first tee feeling confident.
I like playing tournaments and I like to practice with my coach but I get bored on the practice range. How can I make it more interesting? Evan in SC
Connor: Sometimes I get bored on the practice range too. It helps if you have a friend up there. Maybe even if you don’t know the kid but another kid is up there go say hi and ask if he wants to have some competitions. Or you can do competitions on your own. What I sometimes do is see how many balls I can hit out of 20 on a particular green or in a basket on the range. So for a basket at 120 yards I hit my pitching wedge and work on accuracy. You can do this by yourself or with someone else taking turns.
On the practice green there is this fun game but you have to play with someone. You set up 2 tees on opposite sides of the hole (say at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock), about 3 feet from the hole , then at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock you set up 2 tees on opposite sides of the hole at 8 feet. Then you put another tee around 15 feet behind the 8 foot tees and another tee between the 8 and 15 tees. It sounds a bit complicated but its not really. You play with 2 people. You start opposite each other at the 3 foot tee. You take turns hitting. You have to make 3 putts in a row from the 3 foot tees (you start again if you miss a putt) then once you make 3 putts in a row you move clockwise to the 8 foot tee. At the 8 foot tee you hit one putt from 8 foot then one from the tee in between 8 and 15 then one from the 15 foot tee – you have to make 2 out of 3 of those. Then you move clockwise to the 3 foot tee and do the 3 putts in a row from there and carry on around. The game ends when you pass the person in front of you. It is pretty fun. Here is a picture.
I have also found that it helps me to listen to music on the range. Some people use blue tooth speakers so you don’t have the wires connecting to your phone but I just put the wires under my shirt and they don’t get in the way of my swing. I like to listen to a lot of different music but find something that you enjoy in practice time. Before a tournament I find something that kind of psyches me up but in practice I just let the playlist go around.
Rob: on the range I don’t really try to make it fun I just try to get my drive going well. On the putting range, if I am by myself I like to test myself with long putts – that’s how I keep it interesting.
See interview with Connor on playing his first AJGA tournament for advice, information and observations.
I played a 2 day high school tournament last week. Had a great first day, just a few shots off the lead. But the second day was a complete disaster and nothing went right. How do you try turn that around when nothing is working. James in GA
Connor: Well you can't let one round get you down, especially if you had a good one the day before. You just have to analyze how and why you did bad the second day and get out on the range to work on it. You know you can play well, like you did the first day. You just need to figure how to make one day into two. Maybe it was nerves or maybe the shots just didn't feel good, just get out and practice some more. All in all I would not let one day get you down. I know it is difficult to turn it around when you are starting to panic a bit. When I have been able to turn it around - which unfortunately I am not able to do every time in a round that is not going well - but when I have I have concentrated on slowing down my game and focused on going back to the basics of my swing which I know work.