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BECOMING AN ELITE GOLFER

What does it take to reach the highest levels in golf? What are the odds of making it to the professional tours? These are questions that almost every junior golfer -- and perhaps his or her parents -- ask when skill develops. If not these questions, then can I get a scholarship to the college of my choice -- or any good college for that matter --  based on my golf ability? They're good questions, and we would ask them in similar circumstances. Here's what we've learned.

The odds of a US college golfer, all college divisions inclusive, making it to the PGA tour are ~1/400. For division I college players the odds are better: ~1/100. Long odds, but tantalizingly accessible. 

Interestingly, the average age that winners of the major golf championships began playing the game is ~8 yrs of age for boys and ~9 yrs of age for girls. And how many years of playing did it take to win those events? About 20 yrs to reach the point of being able to win a major on Sunday. That makes golf a 20-yr developmental sport, about twice as long as most other sports and professions require to develop world-class expertise/skill. Although these numbers get debated, most of the arguments arise from what's considered to be practice. However, the odds don't seem to discourage talented young golfers from going for it, and there are plenty of professional options that can develop along the way.

A more immediate concern to us is the state of junior golf in the US. A look at the countries of origin of the top players in pro golf, or the winners of major championships in recent years, shows the US has fallen way behind countries with smaller populations. It raises the question of whether training programs for young athletes in the US are up to the task of yielding competitive junior golfers. We think TPI programs will help turn the situation around with its long term view and balanced approach to junior golf. And golf as an Olympic sport is coming. 

Back to the original point. What does it take to be an elite golfer? We think it starts with a careful plan based on strengthening those areas that need it -- e.g., if lack of distance is a problem then swing analysis and range-of-motion analysis is recommended to identify the specific limitations in the player's swing snd determine the right steps for improvement. If the number of putts per round are excessive, then putting technique, wedge skills, and approach shot strategies should be evaluated.

It's not about refining what got you here, but what new techniques will you incorporate to reach the next level of accomplishment? 

We have our philosophy, we follow the TPI approach, and we apply both to what's important -- performance on the course. With drivers, especially, we know that it's all about distance. Yes, accuracy and shot placement in the fairway matter, but maximizing distance is a major goal of everything we do in fitting drivers. Here is a chart that we picked up along the way from David Nel of FlightScope with numbers that relate to a 1.5 efficiency factor as a reference.