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Single sport (golf) specialization - when?


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The general consensus from places like Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) is to build the athlete first and the golfer second.  They believe that the junior golfer who specializes from young age (let's say 6-7 year old) will get beat by the junior golfer, who is an athlete first (multi-sport) but takes up golf later (let's say 11-12 years old), when they compete against each other in their teens (say 14-17 years old).  There are exceptions as always. And of course, there are never guarantees. 

 

Examples:

1. Jack didn't start golf until 10.  He played many other sports throughout high school. I think he may have been regarded as the best basketball player on his team (?).

2. Greg Norman didn't start golf until 15 or 16 if I recall. He was an avid surfer before that (balance/agility). Unsure of other sports he played in.

3. Tiger, the best known "early golfer" may be the total exception to the rule. However, I do believe he participated in other sports (baseball ?, basketball ?).

 

If I had to guess, and for practical reasons with respect to rankings, etc..., I would say that around age 13-14 years old you need to specialize or at least start cutting down sports to golf + one other. 

Edited by wildcatden
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If it goes right, it's a slice. If it goes left, it's a hook. If it goes straight, it's a miracle.

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7 minutes ago, bdecena said:

Meaning until they start high school? Or 8th grade? My daughter skipped a grade and went from the oldest to youngest in her class.

Most kids fall out around 13-14. Make it past that and you’ve likely got to specialize. 

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There's definitely something more important that I should be doing.
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I wouldn't (and won't, with my son) encourage specialization, ever.  Unless high school golf strength and conditioning programs are vastly different from what they were when I was in high school, participation in another sport will be necessary to catch the athleticism that I believe is going to be increasingly necessary to be good.  Seems like swing speed>>>all.

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48 minutes ago, bdecena said:

Got it. Thought you were referring to an age/grade when it became important to focus on golf with respect to college recruiting.

 

 

For boys the fallout occurs around the time their interest in girls increases... there's also a lot of missed social stuff that some will resent.

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There's definitely something more important that I should be doing.
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46 minutes ago, bdecena said:

Got it. Thought you were referring to an age/grade when it became important to focus on golf with respect to college recruiting.

Depends on the child.  I would ask if the child has college aspirations or is it parent driven (in general terms).

 

No matter what grade IMHO.  If the kids doesn't want it.  It will not matter.

We had a young man from nearby that play for UVA.  Here are his stats.

 

Amateur & Junior Golf Notes
• Ranked the No. 82 by the AJGA when he signed with Virginia
• Top ranked Virginia State Junior for the Class of 2014
• One of three Juniors to make cut at 2014 VSGA State Open
• Top five finish in 2014 VSGA Jr. Stroke Play and top-10 finish in 2014 VSGA Junior Match Play
• 2014 & 2013 Washington Post All Met selection
• Selected for 2013 Mid Atlantic Jr. Invitational & Virginias/Carolinas Invitational
• Only played competitive golf for four years

Chantilly High School & Personal
• Was named the 2012 College Prep Golf Tour player of the year
• Helped Chantilly High School to the 2013 state title, finishing fourth in the individual competition
• Was sixth in 2012 state championships with team placing second
• Team finished second in 2011 and third in 2010
• Earned all-state honors as a junior and senior
• Also played baseball and basketball in high school
 

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Depends on the kid and their love of the sport.

 

some kids will love tons of sports and don’t care what they play.  At some point they sort of end up picking something their good at.

Sometimes a kid will not put a golf club down and has no interest in anything else. 
 

There is tons of examples either way. The only sure thing is the kids who make it work their butts off. 

if your kid is crazy about golf the biggest problem is they practice too much. 

Edited by tiger1873
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I would like to hear from parents whose kid specialize(d) in golf ONLY from an "early" age.

 

I am personally in the multi-sports camp for all of the reasons repeated on countless threads here, but my soon to be 10yo makes it easy because he chooses to play many sports (soccer, football, basketball ...all seasonally along with Golf) and really enjoys each one.    He has a few of his golf buddies we've met along the way who've really done nothing but golf since early age - like 5 or 6.    I mind my own business , but what I've heard from the parents is something along the lines of "Junior decided he wants to play golf only" or "he didnt enjoy playing socccer".     Surely some of the kids are pushed (manipulated) to think way but its not unreasonable to believe that some kids really dont like soccer (football, lacross, whatever).  The going narrative on here (and I agree) is that if the kid doesn't want to play golf , you cant make them.  So the same can be said for being multi-sport kid, right....if they dont want to, how can you make them? 

 

I dont know how I would react if my son came to me at age 9(or younger) and said he wants to play only golf.   Cant force him to play the other sports.  Cant NOT let him play golf if he doesn't play other sports.    I guess I would try to talk to him about the many benefits of playing other sports and the how it would make him a better golfer, but I guess if he was insistent I would let him choose to play golf only.

 

Parents of kids who specialize "early" -   Their choice? your choice?  reasoning?   How did you handle it. 

Edited by hangontight
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3 hours ago, hangontight said:

I would like to hear from parents whose kid specialize(d) in golf ONLY from an "early" age.

 

I am personally in the multi-sports camp for all of the reasons repeated on countless threads here, but my soon to be 10yo makes it easy because he chooses to play many sports (soccer, football, basketball ...all seasonally along with Golf) and really enjoys each one.    He has a few of his golf buddies we've met along the way who've really done nothing but golf since early age - like 5 or 6.    I mind my own business , but what I've heard from the parents is something along the lines of "Junior decided he wants to play golf only" or "he didnt enjoy playing socccer".     Surely some of the kids are pushed (manipulated) to think way but its not unreasonable to believe that some kids really dont like soccer (football, lacross, whatever).  The going narrative on here (and I agree) is that if the kid doesn't want to play golf , you cant make them.  So the same can be said for being multi-sport kid, right....if they dont want to, how can you make them? 

 

I dont know how I would react if my son came to me at age 9(or younger) and said he wants to play only golf.   Cant force him to play the other sports.  Cant NOT let him play golf if he doesn't play other sports.    I guess I would try to talk to him about the many benefits of playing other sports and the how it would make him a better golfer, but I guess if he was insistent I would let him choose to play golf only.

 

Parents of kids who specialize "early" -   Their choice? your choice?  reasoning?   How did you handle it. 

My 11 year old daughter was really good at dance and gymnastics for several years before finding golf. She didn’t like the hours required for either one. She hadn’t really been interested in team sports until last year when she found lacrosse but even that’s fading. I suspect she’ll be playing only golf by next year. 
 

My 8 year old son has a nice swing and has done well in local tournaments but he doesn’t really golf unless his friends are playing. Even then, we sometimes end up playing catch with a baseball or lacrosse ball down the fairways while my daughter plays. I’m trying not to force him so he resents it. I just hope he comes to enjoy it more as he gets older.

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I have two boys. Older boy(14) plays golf and basketball. He has played football in the past. I really wanted him to play football this year b/c he is pretty good. He refused and said it took too much time from golf.  Also, he doesn't want to try and play basketball in high school for the same reason.  I am letting him make his own choices even though I think he should play basketball as well. I think playing the other sports has been very good for him. Gives him a golf break. Taught him how to play on a team but also taught him how to be more competitive.

 

Younger son (12) plays football, basketball & baseball.  He has no interest in golf.  It would be impossible to make him play.  He would be miserable so of course I do not make him.

 

With some guidance, I think you need to let your child make their own choices.  I am a proponent of playing multiple sports but I would never force my son to be miserable.

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I would say my son has already specialized.  He's 10 and its way too early but not sure what to do.  He's a pretty good athlete and played club soccer and basketball until last year.

 

His love for golf seems stronger than ever, but different things seem to motivate him now.  He gets really excited to play new courses and country clubs.   

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4 minutes ago, kekoa said:

I would say my son has already specialized.  He's 10 and its way too early but not sure what to do.  He's a pretty good athlete and played club soccer and basketball until last year.

 

His love for golf seems stronger than ever, but different things seem to motivate him now.  He gets really excited to play new courses and country clubs.   

Good luck at regionals this weekend! 

There's definitely something more important that I should be doing.
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I don't really have an opinion on when to specialize in a sport.  I don't see professional sports in my kid's future, nor sports as a means to get into college, so he continues to play basketball, golf, taekwondo and football at various times with various different teams.  We still throw the baseball in the backyard when I'm BBQing.  I don't see any of this changing too much even into his high school years.

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I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules.  I have seen success from all sorts of situations.  I encourage kids to wait til 8th grade at least to start “specializing” but I’ve also had a lot of elite juniors and college players who never played any sports other than golf and are the definition of early specialization, including Walker Cup “stars”. I’ve also had students who didn’t start playing golf until freshman year of college and by junior year was playing D1 golf and is now playing professionally. 

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35 minutes ago, MikekiM said:

I don't really have an opinion on when to specialize in a sport.  I don't see professional sports in my kid's future, nor sports as a means to get into college, so he continues to play basketball, golf, taekwondo and football at various times with various different teams.  We still throw the baseball in the backyard when I'm BBQing.  I don't see any of this changing too much even into his high school years.

You never know man.  Our boys may not go pro, but a majority have a chance to play college golf at some level if they stick with it.

 

Oh, does fishing count as a sport?  If so, my son also plays fishing.

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3 hours ago, kekoa said:

 

His love for golf seems stronger than ever, but different things seem to motivate him now.  He gets really excited to play new courses and country clubs.   

Sounds like he enjoys it = all good.  

 

When he dropped soccer and basketball was it to spend more time on golf or was it he just didnt enjoy soccer & basketball ?  

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I was an NCAA All-American in track and field before getting into golf when I was done so maybe some insight from a not too far removed athlete. 

 

I wouldn't wedge them into 1 sport early on, let them develop and build skills. They will become a better athlete and can see a better improvement by playing multiple sports, also many movements transfer over. Lately there have been more and more top NCAA recruits that are multi sport athletes and NCAA coaches are starting to recruit more multi sport athletes due to their development and adaptation later on. 

 

Let them decide, you don't know what they like and enjoy when they're out there. They can be great at golf but not enjoy it as much as another sport they may play. Obviously there comes a time when you need to make them realize they need to make a decision for example if two sports overlap and playing both is causing both to suffer then maybe get them to make a decision on playing one or the other. 

 

Let them decide around 11th grade, I was full on football early on and track and field was a second thought, then I saw way more opportunity and potential in the sport and gave that my time and focus and it paid off well, if I stuck with football I wouldn't have done the stuff I did university and after. 

 

You're the parent and you want what is best for your child but don't live your dreams through them, let them build their future but obviously as I said guide them to the future they want. 

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