Recipe for success

By Hayden EcholsMay 24, 2010, 5:39 pm

No matter when you started playing or what golf course you grew up on, every junior golfer dreams of being the next Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus. For most, the second step in the pursuit of PGA Tour immortality is collegiate golf. But before one can step into the realms of college golf and achieve the title of college golfer, he or she must first become a college recruit.

Crawford Reeves swings golf club
Reeves was a 2008 Rolex Junior first team All-American. (AJGA image)

Oh the joys of the recruiting process. Top junior golfers are bombarded with letters, phone calls, e-mails and text messages from college coaches hoping to convince them to come to their school. How does a junior player know which college is right for them? Where should they spend the next four years of their life? For many junior golfers the answers to these questions can seem evasive and intimidating. The recruiting process is very important, but it is not meant to be as daunting as a climb to the top of Mt. Everest.

For 2008 Rolex Junior All-American Crawford Reeves, his college decision came down to four factors: location, tradition, facilities and head coach. “I had always been a Clemson golf fan. The school’s location was great, I knew I liked the coach, and the facilities were great,” Reeves said. “I knew if I could get something that great and that close to home, I was going to take advantage of it.”

John Brooks, the former Head Golf Coach at the University of North Florida from 1990-2003, now operates the Red Numbers Golf program. His program helps families navigate junior golf and manage college placement. Brooks acknowledges that the recruiting process is a complicated one. Brooks believes there are two keys that go into a junior golfer selecting the right college. “Campus visits and meetings with golf coaches are the key steps in this complex process,” said Brooks, who believes juniors should look for schools where they will have a realistic chance at playing in tournaments. “I also encourage these college prospects to target schools where they could see themselves fitting in even if they did not participate in golf.”

The NCAA forbids coaches to make contact with players until after their sophomore year in high school. However, when the time comes, letters and emails begin flowing in from everywhere. Reeves said, “I got some letters and emails from schools. It was interesting to see some schools let me know if there was anything they could do to get me there, they would do it.”

Coach John Brooks
Coach John Brooks is founder of the Red Numbers Golf program

The recruiting process can be hectic, but Reeves advises junior golfers to enjoy it and take it as a challenge. “Look at is as a fun thing and not something with a lot of pressure that comes with it. Make it as fun as possible, not stressful,” said Reeves. Many juniors decide to commit to a school early. Reeves was one of them. “I’m glad I did commit early because I started playing my best golf after that. It took all of the pressure off me,” he said.

Once in school, Coach Brooks says the most common problem facing the golfer is time management. “Being away from home for the first time creates a new set of responsibilities and makes effective time management essential for the student-athlete to succeed in their classes and with their collegiate golf career,” he said.

For Brooks, the main piece of advice he can give junior golfers who are transitioning to the college game is to retain the strong support team they built while playing junior golf. “Remember the key principles and values that your parents and instructors have taught you as a junior and continue to focus on them throughout your college career,” Brooks said.

Reeves is currently wrapping up his freshman campaign at Clemson. He has played in 10 of the team's 11 tournaments this season. When it comes to collegiate golf, Reeves says there is not much difference from junior golf. “Overall, it’s just golf. You’ve been doing it your entire life so just keep on doing what you’ve been doing,” said Reeves.

When asked if he could describe the life of a collegiate athlete, after a long pause, Reeves said, “It’s the most fun, busiest, and rewarding thing you could do. It’s also a privilege.”

Jonathan Goldman contributed to this article

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.