By: Coach Ryan
I joined The First Tee of Greater New Orleans’ coaching staff this past summer, and since then, have been amazed by the impact that golf has on so many young people. Golf is a game you can play for a lifetime, regardless of age or skill level. Being able to see such enthusiasm and dedication from junior golfers has been a heartwarming experience. I sincerely wish every First Tee participant has valued their experience as much as I have. I am writing this to address junior golfers who want to take their game to the next level. If you want to play college golf, here are a few pieces of advice to help you achieve that dream:
The first and probably most important thing to keep in mind is that you must be all in. If you decide that playing college golf is your dream, you need to be willing to invest a lot of time. I was a freshman in high school when I decided I wanted to pursue college golf, and from that moment forward, I was dedicated. I practiced every day after school. I skipped friends’ birthday parties for junior tournaments. I spent hour-upon-hour learning everything I could about golf swing mechanics. Those hours paid dividends, as I signed a golf scholarship with Loyola New Orleans my senior year. My dream was realized. But, I never would gotten that scholarship if it hadn’t been for those years of hard work. In the words of Joel Embid, “Trust the process.”
Second, there is absolutely no substitute for competitive experience. Hitting range balls and practicing your short game is important, but the most formative moments are during tournament play. If you want to play college golf, play in as many tournaments as possible to become familiar the competitive atmosphere. There will be growing pains, but you will learn to be more comfortable under pressure.
Lastly, it is important to be passionate about something other than golf. This is not meant to contradict my first point. Golf is a frustrating game by nature, and even the best golfers don’t win all the time. It is the reality of the game we love. It is easy to become discouraged when the results don’t align with the effort. In moments of doubt, it is vital to have other passions to properly measure the importance of golf. I found my second passion in writing, but it can be anything you want. When golf becomes frustrating and practice starts to feel like work, sometimes the best solution is to take a break to clear your mind. It helps to have something to distract you from golf, even if only for a few hours.
I hope this advice is helpful for any junior golfer who dreams of playing college golf, and I am excited to see the progression of junior golf in New Orleans!