Paige, where you at, girl? Ms. Spiranac was pretty quiet this week on the socials, so I don’t have too much to cover, but I do want to note that I have changed the name of this series to the Paige Posse Rundown.
So we’ll start with instagram. Paige posted this from Troon North in Scottsdale. It’s crazy windy and she seems to be doing some full swing work with what looks like a pitching wedge or gap wedge. She’s keeping it neutral in her stance and doesn’t have much of a hand press to initiate the swing which leads me to believe that she’s working on flush contact more than trying to hit knockdown shots in the wind. It’s a relatively compact swing and the way she loads her hips actually reminds me a lot of Zach Johnson aside from the follow-through.
Now on to Twitter. Like the rest of us, Paige had something to say about the slow play that went down at Riviera in the Genesis Open. I wrote a blog on it yesterday, so you can read my full thoughts, but she clearly agrees that slow play is a problem.
It wouldn’t but it should! Honestly I like when people enforce pace of play. And I wish they would take it more seriously
— Paige Spiranac (@PaigeSpiranac) February 18, 2019
The problem obviously is the enforcement. How could JB Holmes have done anything wrong if no one put him on the clock? It really comes down to perception. If NBC cut away from JB Holmes’ pre-shot routine, no one would have noticed the pace. The solution is so painfully simple. Clock the groups. If any group plays slow, put a rules official out there and find the problem. Once the problem player is identified, put them on the clock, then penalize after their warning. The slow play can be identified and corrected within three holes.
Finally, lets talk about Paige’s vlog. She posted a video discussing junior golf, how to get your kids into golf, and playing in college.
It has a lot of interesting insight and it makes a few things very apparent. If you’re a college athlete, or have ever gone through the recruiting process, you know that playing at the high school varsity level is not sufficient, for the most part, to get recruited to play in college, except for basically in football and track. Whether it’s baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, or golf, unless you’re playing in an elite prep school, you need to play either on a club with college showcases or in junior tournaments to have a chance to get coach’s eyes on you to make it to the next level.
Paige gives us the ins and outs of that journey in golf, starting with young kids. She discusses how to keep a kid’s interest in the game. Here’s where my curmudgeon side comes out. It happens with most parents, whether it’s living vicariously through your kids, or just because parents are proud, but it seems like every parent out there thinks their kid is the next Tiger Woods. They’ll take their son or daughter out on the range and just because the kid has enough hand eye coordination to blast a drive 37 yards, they think their kid has a future on the tour. Here’s exhibit A.
Now what’s my problem with this video? It’s a cute kid having fun swinging a golf club. Of course I don’t have a problem with the kid. It’s the fact that this parent thinks this kid is doing something special enough to put it on the internet. It’s the fact that this parent or whoever put it on youtube had the audacity to title it “This 2 Year Old’s Golf Swing Is Better Than Yours.” Oh, really? It is? You’re telling me this toddler, who flips his wrist with a miniature 5 wood because he’s physically not developed enough to control the club can swing better than me, a 27 year old man who’s been playing golf for 12 times longer than this kid’s been alive? Sure it’s cute, but it’s that attitude that makes me wish that Paige would have also addressed when parents should know that they should no longer consider maxing out another credit card to fuel their delusions that their kid is going to end up on a Wheaties box one day. Plus it puts unreasonable expectations on the kid. This video is now three years old, which means that the kid is 5. So what’s going to happen when the kid shows up to a tournament and gets absolutely beaten down by other 5 year olds. His parents have been telling him he has a better swing than most adults, what could have possibly happened? Golf is about a lot more than just a good swing and it starts with managing expectations.
Paige brought up some great points about getting your child out there on the course to actually play. At any age, a new golfer needs to get out on the course to have a conceptual understanding of why they need to know how to hit shots. It facilitates meaningful practice when they understand why they should work on hitting half swing 7 irons to hit a low punch instead of playing a full swing 9 iron into wind.
When I was a kid, when my dad wasn’t pelting me with Heineken bottles for walking on his putt line, he was hesitant to let me actually play a full 9 or 18. He believed in pace of play and that I could get on the course when my game was good enough. This eventually let to me being bored with golf and I basically gave it up from ages 9 to 12. As a parent or someone teaching another person the game of golf, you can get them out on the course and still control the pace of play. I’m currently helping my wife learn the game. She asked me to teach her, but we got her and LPGA swing instructor and when we first starting playing together, instead of letting her hack around the course and get discouraged, we would tee her up from the 200 yard marker on par 5’s, the 150 marker on par 4’s, and she played from the front tees on par 3’s. As she got better and was left with chip shots on par 5’s and she was driving the green on par 4’s, she started playing from the front tees all together. She’s stayed interested in the game and has seen fast progress.
Paige also discussed the recruiting process in golf, and given her skill as an amateur, she had plenty of options. So her advice to parents and amateurs is really only applicable to a small part of the population. I went through the college recruiting process myself, not in golf, but in lacrosse, and at the end of it, my options were limited to a bunch of small division III schools and a couple of expensive division I schools. She gave some great perspective that isn’t common knowledge to everyone trying to pursue high level golf, especially for someone who may have professional aspirations. It’s important to find a school that fits you and a coaching staff and team you mesh well with. If you do go to a school and it wasn’t what you expected, don’t be afraid to transfer. It’s all solid advice.
The final part of her discussion was if you do try to go pro, it’s very expensive. That’s completely true. Fair or not, there’s a reason a lot of pros come from more well to do families. If you want to go pro, you’ll probably have to move somewhere with a good climate if you don’t live there already. To go somewhere with good coaches and facilities, you’ll probably have to live in Arizona, California, Texas, or Florida in areas that are more expensive. You’ll have to pay for a coach, practice facilities, everyday living expenses, equipment, tournament entry fees, and travel. Of course, some of the golf parts may be pro bono depending on how good you are and what kind of deals you have with a course or instructor, but you’re essentially not making money as you prepare to play pro golf. It’s easy to associate pro golf with all the glitz and glamor of the PGA Tour, and I think the media does a good job of showing how tough the lifestyle is to get there, but to make a living as a pro, we’re talking about a percentage of a percentage of people who try to make it. As for me, I’m okay with weekend hacking and spending my time rounding up Paige Spiranac’s social media activity.
Like I said, it’s a slow week for Paige compared to a lot of others. Apparently it is cold in her hometown, so it may be keeping her hunkered down a bit. A contest for a vacation to play with her did open up in the last few weeks, but it goes on until October, so if you sign up, it’s a long wait before that inevitable email comes in saying that you didn’t win. You can enter here: https://www.playgolfmyrtlebeach.com/paige-spiranac-myrtle-beach-sweeps/
As we get closer to the start of majors season and warmer weather, let’s hope we can see some more content from Paige.