My wife and I need some honest feedback regarding what to do with our 16 year old son, based upon his current golf ability. I realize you all don't have the luxury of being able to see him play on a course or have the chance to evaluate his golf swing in, but I would love what feedback you can give. I will post a video of his swing in the next day or so. Let me give you a brief (or maybe not so brief!) history of our journey with him over the last four years.
Four years ago, at the age of 12 and while on spring break in Arizona, our son had the chance to play golf daily for two weeks. He had been a very casual and infrequent golfer, playing a couple of times a year with my father and I. His goal was to break 100. Within a week he was consistently scoring in the mid 80's. His previous best round on a full-size golf course was 105. Needless to say, I was shocked when his grandfather called and told me the news. After having done that for several rounds consistently, he told me "Dad, I kind of wonder if golf is my thing." From the very beginning, an unbelievable number of people, casual and professional golfers alike, have commented on his natural ability and beautiful, pure golf swing. (As a side note, he has only had three formal lessons from a teaching pro, mostly regarding mental preparation, and prefers to work on his swing with his own video evaluation).
As soon as he came home from his trip, he talked about how much he enjoyed it and that he would like to start playing golf more often. I told him about handicaps and how to establish one, so in April of that year he began playing frequently and posting his scores. After he had completed ten rounds, his starting handicap was 19. That summer he played in his first U.S. Kids Golf Tour and typically placed very high - he finished as the 2nd best player overall. He ended the summer with a handicap of 3.2.
He continued to play through the winter months - many times the only one on the course in the cold, rainy, typical Pacific Northwest weather. Now as a 7th grader, he didn't play in any tournaments, but instead devoted himself to working on his game throughout the summer at several local courses. His handicap went from 3.2 to 1.6. The following year, we introduced him to our state's junior golf program and he began playing tournaments at a higher level. While his casual rounds were very good and often sub-par, he would typically average 8-10 strokes more during tournaments. We realize so much of this was growing accustomed to nerves and his body's response to the stress and adrenaline. At the end of the summer, while his handicap was +2.2, his tournament scoring average was 81. He was very disappointed with this, so at this time we put onto paper a realistic four year plan for tournament play.
This past spring, as a high school Freshman, he started in the number one position on the school's varsity golf team. Based upon his four year plan, his goal for the season was to bring his tournament scoring average down to 78/79, which he did. Then came this past summer's junior golf tour. His goal was more aggressive, aiming to drop three strokes from his scoring average, 75/76. He finished the summer, hitting his goal of 75, with the last several tournaments having an average of just over 73. He won his first tournament, took second place in two, consistently finished high up on the leader board and also took second place in the end of summer Tournament of Champions. His handicap is currently at +4.
Over the next few months, he will be playing for the first time in regional tournaments on the west coast. It has become very clear that his desire now is to be a professional golfer. He is a very good student but is losing his desire to want to pursue a college path. As a family, we are wondering at what point he could realistically participate in the smaller tours, with the hope to work his way up through the PGA system. He is serious in his pursuit of this and has been working very hard.
The bottom line: this is financially very taxing. We want to help him see his dreams become reality however, and if it is attainable, we are willing to do what it takes. For those of you with experience in this, we welcome your feedback and advice.