Welcome to our new series, golfer-to-golfer, where we try to learn from all different kinds of avid players out there, in hopes that the rest of us can take away something that might improve our own games.
Rory McIlroy has been destined for stardom seemingly from the start. He won everything there was to win as a junior golfer in Northern Ireland, made his first start on the European Tour at 16 years old and finished as the leading amateur at the 2007 Open Championship.
But unlike so many talented junior golfers whose story ended there, McIlroy translated his talented into professional success – 32 wins and four majors later, McIlroy remains one of the best players in the sport. And speaking on a conference call as part of Golf Channel’s launch of its GolfNow Compete app, he’s sharing his best advice for junior golfers.
It’s simple advice – but important. Golf parents out there should take note.
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1. “Have fun”
The first and most important piece of advice Rory has for junior golfers is the most fundamental.
“Have fun,” he says.
Even when junior golfers are passionate about the game, being too hard on themselves will quickly stamp-out their love for the game. It’s only the love and enjoyment of the game that keeps golfers going through both the good and bad days. After all, it’s just a game. No matter what level you aspire to, you should always have fun playing it.
“Having fun is the most important aspect and I have to sometimes tell myself that. Why did I start to play this game? Why did I start to play golf? It’s because I loved it because I have fun at it, ”he says. “Junior golfers have to remember that – they have to remember to have fun. I’m trying to better myself by making birdies, making birdies is fun. That’s my fun on the golf course. “
2. “Focus on the scoring aspects of the game”
As for more practical advice for junior golfers, Rory says to avoid falling into the trap of spending too much time on the driving range, trying to improve your golf swing technique. That’s important, Rory says, but only when you “balance and marrying those both together.”
“Spend way more time on the golf course than on the driving range. … You can get bogged down too much in the technology and too much in the numbers and in the data but, ultimately, your golf is played out on the golf course. Seeing shots, being creative, being visual, ”he says. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to turn 70s into 67s and trying to turn 67s into 65s. “
Rory goes on to say that practicing your short game, and perfecting your ability to hit different kinds of shots, are essential skills that will actually help you play better. Do those, have fun along the way, and just like Rory, the sky is the limit.