My high school golf team qualified for the Florida Boys State Golf Championship this year. Big accomplishment!
The field was based on the top 16 teams in the state with 16 individual qualifiers that were not on teams to make the field. The 36-hole event was held at the Mission Inn Resort outside of Orlando. Five players represented each team; they play stroke play, with the top four scores counting towards the team score each day. The event was great, the course was very difficult and the winds were blowing each day of the event.
There were a few holes that we thought were unfair during the event because of the wind. The greens became so fast due to the wind that on some holes, approach shots were spinning off the green back into the water hazards, and if you hit your shot above the hole on other holes, your putt, no matter how hard you hit it, would roll off the front of the green back into the fairway. On one uphill hole, we had a player hit a putt from above the hole off the green almost 100 yards back in the fairway, I am sure a lot of other players and coaches were scratching their heads on that hole.
For the most part, my team did well. We ended up finishing 5th overall after a few teams were actually disqualified after the event for rules infractions.
What I learned and what my players learned is that all of the swing faults and weaknesses were exposed under the tough conditions. My two top players, who were scoring under par all season, shot in the mid 70s both days. Each player also finished 5th individually with 36-hole totals of 152.
My 3rd, 4th and 5th players really struggled. These are players that normally score in the mid 70s to low 80s on a regular basis. These players all scored in the mid to high 80s because of the conditions.
What was the most glaring was that all of the things that we work on as players, swing faults in general came out under pressure. Players who have swing faults had their poor shots magnified and were unable to make the adjustments to the conditions. This is to be expected with high school players, and I think they all understand how course conditions can make any course into a very difficult and challenging experience.
What I wanted them all to take away from the event – and for golfers and teachers who are reading this post – is that you have to know your swing faults, know your misses and have a plan to adapt under pressure. This skill set has to be coached, learned and developed over time for a player to be able to rise above the pressure and put themselves in a position to win.
I am very proud of my team, and I know they will become much better competitive players from this experience.
(Master Golf Teaching Professional Arlen Bento Jr. is an award-winning golf coach, business owner, product developer and content writer living in Jensen Beach, Florida. He is the former head golf professional at the PGA Country Club in PGA Village, Florida, and the director of golf at Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach. Arlen is a “Top 100” Golf Instructor recognized by the World Golf Teachers Federation with over 30,000 members in 40 International countries. Please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.arlenbentojr.com.)
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