When I was a junior, my dad would drop me off at the golf course on his way to work in morning at 7:30 am. I would play 18 in the morning, eat lunch, play another 18 in the afternoon, and then putt and chip until my dad came and picked me up (this was the early 1990's and golf hadn't hit it's boom years so the golf course was only busy on weekends). Sometimes I would go play another nine with him in the evening. It was a great life, and man did I ever have fun doing it. One summer in particular the total amount of rounds I played was 176 from the months of May to the end of August. Looking at my progress, I developed each year I played.
When I was 10 years old my lowest score was 102.
At 11.. 101 (you have to remember if I wanted to play with my older brother and his friends I had to play the back tees... so I probably would've broke 100 easily if I wasn't forced to play from 6600 yards when I couldn't hit it further than I threw it.)
At 12 years old my low was 92.
Then at 13 it was 81.
My fourteenth birthday brought a year of great change as my low score was 75.
When I was 15 I finally broke par. I remember the day I did it. We were standing on the 18th tee in the pitch black, with fireflies, it was so dark. I was 3 under par and if we had teed off 20 minutes earlier, I probably would've shot 69. However, a bogey (and thank god I found every shot) on the last resulted in a 70.
At 16 I still never broke 70 and ended the year with a 3 handicap.
17 was a good age. I broke 70 for the first time and it just so happened to be the week before our Men's Club Championship. I shot 69. During the Club Championship I shot rounds of 73-68-71 and won in a playoff.
In my final year as a junior, I started winning junior invitationals, high school tournaments, was runner up on the Hamilton/Halton Junior Golf Tour, and was medalist at the GAO Ontario Junior Qualifier. I was contending in almost every event I entered that season.
Fast forward to me as a professional, I am now getting to that point. I feel after 7 years of playing professional golf, I am now becoming very comfortable and confident with the fact that I can win any golf tournament I enter.
The bottom line is, it takes a massive amount of time and energy to develop into a sound player... at any level. As we progress through the ranks, we have to expect that each level is going to take some time to gain comfort and confidence. The problem with today's happenings is that most junior instructors and parents are playing the "I'm the big shot" role. Meaning, the kids are being lead into believing they have to play golf a certain way and in certain geographical places to get the "All American Scholarship Opportunity". I was told my resume wasn't good enough to go south. So I didn't. I stayed home, kept playing and working around golf every day. I met great people and played some great golf all in the confides of my back yard. I never lost my passion for the game. I played it the way I wanted to, and never said no to a game of golf. I have out lasted almost all the top rank junior golfers of my time and the most notable to go on and become something is David Hearn. Juniors are being lead into thinking they need to perform like a certain model. Or they're given specific guidelines to live by or else they don't stand a chance.
I'm under the impression that not enough juniors are being taught how to win, or better yet learning to win on their own. As an instructor, the best medicine for under achieving is putting yourself in the fire more often. Play as much as you can, and be in contention as often as possible. Don't be afraid of failing and always take the fun out of every round. Good technique is not what wins golf tournaments. It's playing lots and feeling comfortable in every situation that's thrown at you. Failure is our best weapon for winning. If we never fail, we will never know what it feels like to win.