Caddying at Junior Tournament EPG Academy style
I recently had the pleasure of caddying for one of our EPG Academy students at the MAPGA Capital Cup qualifier at the Salisbury Country Club in Richmond, VA. The tournament qualifier would determine who represented the state of Virginia in a Ryder Cup format against the best kids form the state of Maryland.
A bit of background about the pre-tournament events. The young man qualifying for this event is only 12 years old. Most of the kids he would be competing against were older, more mature physically, and more experienced. He knew he was at a disadvantage but convinced his family to play against the big boys. I admire this attitude. They asked me if I would be interested in caddy for their son. I jumped at the chance for the following reasons.
1. As a coach you must witness your players PLAY! At the bare minimum, a true golf coach should go to at least 2-3 events each season and watch their students play. It is impossible to adequately know the best areas to work on if you never see them play and play in a tournament. Playing lessons are extremely valuable but nothing compares to observing a tournament round except one thing: caddying for them.
2. It makes me a better COACH. I have to get to know my junior students and what better way to learn about them than being “inside the ropes”. It develops trust. It shows that you care about them that you will go the extra mile to make them better. Our motto is to give each junior the attention they need to reach their goals. Teaching/Coaching/Mentoring are what we are all about.
3. It allows for a unique teaching opportunity to discuss how other players perform, especially when these players play great. You get to see what the best in the area, region, and state look and act like on the course. We can discuss this in detail with our student(s) since we were there to witness the great play.
The day began on the range at 6:45 am with my player chipping and hitting pitches. He was trying to get a feel for the course as quickly as possible since he had not played a practice round. After 10-15 minutes of short game shots we headed to the range to hit full swing shots. For parents or other coaches reading this blog: THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO TRY TO LEARN NEW THINGS!!!!!! To many times, parents or others caddies will try to help the player hit the ball better. I have seen this at EVERY junior golf tournament I have been to. The kid miss hits a shot and the dad is giving advice on how to correct this mistake. We teach the players to figure out a pre-round routine that works for them. Angel Cabrera, U.S. Open and Master’s champion, rarely hits balls before the round. At times Phil Mickelson will arrive 2 hours or more before a major to get in a tune up and then go through his routine. Consistency is the key.
We finished up with some putting and then off to the first tee for our 7:40 tee time. The course was 7000 yards long and the fairways were wet. A huge disadvantage for us. We pushed forward and he finished with a solid 82. We had a great bonding experience and I learned how this young man plays under pressure. From here we can work on the areas that are the most important to his development. Also we played with the medalist of the qualifier. This young man fired a smooth 65 with 5 birdies in a row on the back nine. He left a putt on the lip on 18 to tie the course record. A great learning experience for my player to see a young man go low.
Overall the day was a tremendous success. I was extremely proud of how he played and his overall effort level. He has a great chance to become a great player. We have discussed the round in detail and developed a plan moving forward. It should be an excited next few months.
The EPG Academy is dedicated to providing a unique learning experience for our students. “Redefining Golf Instruction” is our motto. We want to develop junior golfers into the best players in the state. We believe that the traditional teaching model is too outdated and has to many holes. Ask yourself these questions: How much better can your son/daughter get if they take a few one hour lessons? Who is going to take the time to watch your junior golfer play? This is what we do every day. We want to develop better players not simply better ball strikers.
We look forward to seeing you at the course.