High school golf tryouts can be a stressful time for players and coaches. Players are anxious to play their best and make the roster. Coaches want to be fair when selecting and finalizing their teams. But how can coaches make sure they are providing each player an equal opportunity when making the team? Check out these tips below to help run a successful high school golf tryout.
Golf, unlike other sports, is objective and quantifiable. 72 will always beat 75, and 75 will always beat 80. Before any of your players set foot on the golf course, clearly explain the structure of your tryout process. How many holes will it consist of? How many days? Will you give special exemptions to an upperclassman or returning players from the year before? Is there a certain score or total that has to be shot to make the team?
Document all of these expectations on paper to share with all players and families. Your goal is to set clear expectations even before the first tryout. The more clear cut your process is, the less confusion and controversy there will be later on in the season.
Pair experienced players with newer golfers
If you have any upperclassman or returning starters from the prior season, try to pair them up with newer golfers. This will not only provide your returning golfers a leadership opportunity, but the inexperienced players can learn from playing with them. Good golf etiquette can be taught by your veteran players and help create a better team environment for the newer golfers.
Pro-tip. Incorporate either a double-par or circle 10 rule for your younger players. In other words, once they reach double the par on a hole or hit their 10th shot, they will pick up their ball and record that score. This will help with the pace of play and overall morale for those players.
Cheating is a hot topic issue in high school golf. Set the precedent day one that cheating will not be allowed on your team. Consequences will be met if cheating is seen. One way to help limit the amount of cheating is to have all players in a group exchange scorecards with each other. Try to avoid a player ever keeping their own score. If there is an issue with a score on a certain hole, both players can be involved with coming to an agreement.
Use the rules of golf
Tryouts should not just consist of playing on the course, but also include a test on the rules of golf. The USGA has some great resources for players, parents and coaches with pre-made rules quizzes. Assign your players some homework to watch some of the USGA rules videos before taking the quiz and require that they meet a certain standard when taking the quiz.
Action plan for golfers who don’t make the team
A question that we ask on our annual high school golf coaches survey is asking coaches if they cut players from their teams? Over 25% of the 1200 coaches that responded said they do make cuts from their high school golf teams. For any players that are cut, encourage them to look at PGA Junior League – which exists to bring friends, families, and communities together around golf. This opportunity would also allow those players to be part of a team atmosphere.
Additional questions on the best ways to run a tryout for your team? Feel free to contact me directly: Chris@highschoolgolf.org