High School Golf

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In the state of Washington over the past several years it takes an average score of 80 to qualify for district competitions as well as state competitions. Now obviously, the score of 80 is an average and this average qualifying score can dramatically change from school to school depending on the talent level for that year. Still, I want young golfers (middle school through sophomores in high school) to aim at the goal of breaking 70 once in a while (averaging 80).


86 qualified for the districts competition in the Spokane area

79 qualified for the State High School 4A competition


85 qualified for the districts competition in the Spokane area

78 qualified for the State High School 4A competition

My goal in coaching (teaching) golf is to promote enjoyment of the game, the basics of the game, AND how to keep the game simple! I have been in and around the game of golf for more than 30 years and in that time I have seen many young folks driven to frustration (even hatred) of the game. I think that if a person could focus on just a few basics and only 4 particular clubs (rather than a whole bag full) they could shoot scores in the low 80's consistently! From there, it is up to the golfer to determine how dedicated they are willing to be in order to perfect their skills.

Now for the 3 keys to becoming a golfer who consistently shoot in the low 80's (and a chance to make the state championship next season):



Ball Striking (coordination)

I will detail each of these 3 elements to help golfers perfect the skills necessary to not enjoy golf but to be VERY competitive at the high school level!

In the old days ESPN ran a series of golf clinics throughout the United States named the '3 Club Tour'. My son and I attended a couple of these events and we realized how true the concept was. I tweaked that idea a little and have what I call the 4 club practice concept. I believe that every teenager that wants to turn out for golf should have the chance, so MANY of the ideas & concepts I use are designed to save money. In fact many of the skills can be practiced at home for FREE! Just in the past 2 seasons ('09 & '10) a couple of schools in the Inland Northwest have canceled the golf team due to budget cuts. As a golfer myself & a parent of a child who plays LOTS of golf I understand how expensive golf can be!!! Playing & practicing golf can run into some money, so in these webpages on golf I hope to convince all who participate that 'money' does not make the golfer!


The first item we must have in order to participate in golf is equipment. First, let me give you a little background on myself. I mentioned before that I have been in and around golf for more than 30 years. I played golf competitively in high school on the golf team. Unfortunately, the team I was on had 6 extremely competitive golfers ALL who could shoot in the 70's consistently which made qualifying for the varsity matches extremely difficult. Our coach believed in a competitive environment and every monday had a competition to decide who would make the top 5 for the varsity competition that week. I was competitive and appreciated this opportunity, plus this pushed ALL the players to keep getting better as the season progressed. Many of the golf coaches I come in contact in the Spokane area do not necessarily agree with this philosophy and establish a varisty team from the onset of the season with a couple of alternates to fill in when scheduling or sickness conflicts with an event. Another element I really believe in is the concept of JV (junior varsity) and Freshman teams. This is not only the future of the varsity sport but also of the game of golf! Again, budget cuts dramatically effect this because many schools cannot afford to support 15 golfers each season and all the practice time a the local golf courses. This means the golf coach and the team member family have to dedicate themselves to fundraising, and really working hard to convince local golf courses & golf vendors to help kids get the best deal possible!!! Alright now lets get back to the subject of equipment. I have just received my teaching degree and am a substitute teacher in the Spokane Public School system (2011). A couple of years ago when my son went of to the University of Idaho to pursue an education in the PGM (Professional Golf Management program) we had a garage sale to earn money for his expenses and I sold all my golf equipment.

I find this a perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I mean about how to save money and still practice the game of golf!

The picture to the left shows the 4 clubs I picked up on August 1st of this year (2011). The fairway wood and 5 iron I got at Clark Stephens Golf shop just off Ruby north of downtown Spokane. They have a big barrel of clubs in the back labeled $9.95 so I sifted through them and found a couple that appealed to me. Then each saturday for a couple of weeks I stopped by gargage sales until I found a wedge (56 degrees) and a putter. Both of which cost me $5!!! So here we are with $30 spent and I have what I call a complete set of clubs! Sure, the guys at the course may chuckle and point but that is OK, I believe in my 4 club system! Do not forget to protect your clubs...just use a couple of old socks to cover the putter and fairway wood.

Here is the theory behind the 4 club idea:

ESPN 3-Club Tour
75% of your score can come from the driver, the wedge, and the putter -
the three most important clubs in your golf bag.
After one day, you'll: Drive better, Pitch and Chip better, Putt better, Play better!

The reason I add a club is because I believe that using a driver from EVERY tee box is a mistake and the driver is a specialized club the distracts golfers from what is really important about getting low scores. Hopefully, your high school golf coach has a backstash of extra 'used' clubs for the new members of the team to practice with over the winter. Get your set of four now and begin practicing so you are ready for next spring! Oh, I should clarify that, in the Spokane area the golf season is March & April only, we do not have a fall competitive season in these parts.

Before we go on let me tell you about my four clubs, I spent 1 week practicing with them. Having played golf in Spokane my entire life it was easy to find some golf balls, after all it is late August and between Indian Canyon, and Qualchan a person can find a TON of golf balls on just a couple of holes. I figured I would need 10 golf balls for the next couple of months so I just went to Indian Canyon and between hole #8 & #9 (watch out for the bees) on the right side of the fairway in the trees I found 20 balls in less than 30 minutes (several NICE quality ones too!!). Sure the course does not want folks tresspassing on the course so again check with the coach for used balls, or again garage sales for balls. A couple of guys I know sell golf balls by the egg carton for $6!! Anyway, I went to Big 5 and got a 6 pack of wiffle balls ($3), and a 3 pack of nerf golf balls (my son loves these in the winter time for indoor hitting - $3). I am up to $36 spent, if you choose to buy some used golf balls you would be at $42. Now, I need to find a cheap place to hit balls and practice. Again times are tought in Spokane and golf is VERY cheap as a matter of fact todays paper has a couple of adds for $12 rounds of golf (yes, for 18 holes). I am going to play at Painted Hills (a local 9 hole course that actually plays tough and measures 3550 yds!). After 2 weeks of practice and 4 old clubs I play on the last tuesday of August and shoot 39 for 9! WOW! I knew I could do this!

Putting practice

Year after year on the PGA Tour the best putter in the world averages around 1.4 putts per hole (25 strokes per round) and 1.7 putts per hole is usually #100 which means 31 strokes per round. If we want to shoot an 80 lets make sure that we can average 36 putts per round (in other words, 2 putts per hole - we must never 3 putt!). That is much easier said than done! Three courses you will play in the Spokane area each year in high school competitions are Indian Canyon, Downriver, & Qualchan. Each of which has greens that will punish you if you end up above the hole. I hyave seen many of the best high school golfers in the area 3 putt many of these greens, so we must make sure we have the ability to get some '1 putts' during each round to make up for that.

The picture above of a circle of golf balls is a practice routine called the 'circle of death', take a moment and read the article from the 2005 issue of Golf Magazine which I believe and have made part of my golf routine!

click for the circle of death article

Take a look at the following youtube videos for putting practice routines for the off season!

Chipping practice

Take a look at the following youtube videos for putting practice routines for the off season!

Swing practice

Take a look at the following youtube video driving range practice routine. Consistently hitting the sweet spot on the face of the golf club is much more important than the length of the swing as can be seen by in this video. One key idea is to make sure to accelerate the swing through the impact of the ball (never slow the club down),

Swing practice

Harvey Penick's...Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf!

After 60 years of keeping notes on the things he's seen and learned and on the golfing greats he's taught, Penick finally let his Little Red Book be seen by the golf world. His simple, direct, practical wisdom pares away all the hyper-technical jargon that's grown up around the golf swing, and lets all golfers, whatever their level, play their best.

Harvey Penicks Little Red Book features:
Written in an easy and personal style that warms your heart and makes you love the author early on in the text
Instruction is written in small, easy to pick up and read sections and is easily tracked in the table of contents
His stature in the golf world is reflected in the remarkable array of champions he's worked with including Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls, and Kathy Whitworth
175 Pages
Measures approximately 7.75" x 5.5"

About the Authors:
Harvey Penick's life in golf began when he started caddying at the Austin, (Texas) Country Club at age eight. Eighty-one years later he was still there, still dispensing wisdom to pros and beginners alike.

Bud Shrake is a former newspaper columnist and Sports Illustrated writer, a novelist, a screenwriter, and author of three best-selling nonfiction books.
A Treasure, And A Must For Any Golfer's Personal Library!

If you do not have a copy, the last time I looked www.thriftbooks.com had used copies for as low as $4!!

Montedamashers' Golf Tips Archives

Spring, 2008: Reached out for help...
Fall, 2007: New equipment, square grooves??
July, 2007: The day it all came together.
February, 2007: Basic sand play
January, 2007: Putting, phase 2
December, 2006: Putting, phase 1
November, 2006: The Driver
October, 2006: Simplify the Swing; Fewer Moving Parts
September, 2006: Toughest Shot in Golf: 50 yards
August, 2006: Surviving the Circle of Death
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