This week my article is going to focus on our junior golf student-athletes. Recently I read an article published by a respectable golf publication regarding junior golf rankings and where you needed to be to have a chance to play at a Division I golf program, or more specifically a Top 100 program. I understand that it wasn’t trying to say that if you are not ranked in the top 500 junior players you don’t have a shot at playing, but the message that is heard by junior golfers and parents is “If I am not ranked in the top 500 junior golfers according to a ranking system then I do not have a chance to play DI golf or even college golf.” The downside to this is, in many cases, is that players and parents have no idea how many golf opportunities are even out there. For parents, this message to their child can be upsetting. So much so they begin seeking out ways to “help” their junior golfer by forcing them to play in events they are not ready for, manipulating their playing schedule so not to play in certain events because it may not be perceived as a good event. They may even go as far as making excuses for their kid for poor play to any and all coaches they come across because they are trying to help.
The effect this has on junior players can be devastating. You see, the more pressure parents feel about the college process, the more pressure the kid feels. Juniors are working their butts off to do their best to perform to their abilities and in many cases beyond their abilities. This leads to some not so fun times! Juniors will often tie their worth to how well they are doing in tournaments or their golf life because they know how much it may mean for their parent(s). The stress this causes can force a kid to feel like they have to cheat to succeed, or hide bad scores from coaches. It can cause frustration and anger between junior golfer and parents and in some cases it has caused kids to think so little of themselves they give up trying and eventually give up the great game of golf, something they love. When playing golf becomes a means to end, to do it to gain a college scholarship or to gain something other than the enjoyment and the challenge it brings based on the love of the game, golf can be a brutal game. Like life, when you try to force something before it’s time it usually backfires on you, and the outcome you were hoping for only gets further away.
Far too often the pressures of competitive golf can overwhelm even the best players at the highest levels, let alone a junior golfer who is still only capable of comprehending a fraction of the emotions it takes to succeed at a level they are asked to by their parents or coaches. Now, I am not saying kids are not capable of excelling, because we do see many kids having tremendous success early in their golfing careers, however this does not mean they are the only ones who can succeed. For whatever reason, their journey is just happening at a different pace than someone else’s. For more info regarding junior golf rankings read my article on Junior Golf Hub.
Rankings in golf or in school have a tremendous effect on a kid’s psyche. If they are at the top of the list it makes them feel overly confident about their abilities and if they are at the bottom it may give the sense of worthlessness and certainly not confident about their abilities. This is why rankings are bad, everyone’s journey is different. What you like or dislike, how you learn, speed in which you learn and what someone may hold a higher value, may not have the same value to you. So, as you are on your journey through the junior golf landscape, remember your journey is unique to you, no one else. A ranking can not define your greatness any more than an IQ score or an SAT/ACT score can. Be the best version of you, give your best effort to the things that match your values. If your golf scores do not get you ranked, this is ok! There have been many great players not ranked as a junior golfer. There have been many great people that were not perceived as being smart relative to a standardized score or what college they did or did not attend, many have brought great things to the world!
ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY!