Henry Brunton of Henry Brunton Golf is a Canadian PGA Master Professional, coach of the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s national men’s team and was recently named the winner of the Canadian PGA’s Junior Leader of the Year Award. Brunton writes that while many juniors say they want to become elite golfers, it’s a mixture of athleticism, desire and positive attitude that actually takes them to the upper levels of competitive golf.
At Henry Brunton Golf, I work with a team of five Canadian PGA professionals who are all focused on executing junior development programs at our headquarters at Eagles Nest in Richmond Hill, Ont., and Bathurst Glen in Toronto.
We start with the grassroots programs, such as the CN Future Links Skill Development Clinics and five-day summer golf camps held each week throughout the summer.
We are also known for Strive for Excellence, a nine-month coaching and training program for aspiring high level golfers aged 14 to 18 and New Competitive Golfer for boys and girls aged 11 to 14 who are interested in moving up the ladder of junior golf.
The transition from skills development to elite competitive golf usually begins with great aspirations.
Once kids who are keen on golf get past the initial introduction to the sport and develop core competency skills, at about the age of 13, virtually all of them aspire to be competitive players.
As it is in other sports such as hockey or football or baseball, they’re generally looking to be the best they can be in golf – most dreaming of the big leagues. With any player who has a strong athletic background, the possibility of being a strong junior player exists.
The first things they need are good motor skills, balance, flexibility, strength and ability to create clubhead speed. Assuming they have those qualities, the thing that separates the kids is their ability to focus and work in a very dedication fashion.
A lot of factors then come into play.
Are they willing to put in the necessary effort? Do they have the coaching support that they need? Is the facility access that they need available and affordable? Do they have the right competitive schedule? Is their parental support appropriate and encouraging? There’s a lot that goes into the mix.
We do a lot of training with young athletes on the mental side using GolfPsych tools and techniques – how to become a better player, how to control themselves, how to manage the whole process of getting better from year to year, month to month and week to week and measuring where they are in the continuum.
It’s easy for a young player to say he or she wants something, but are they willing to put the effort into what they say they want?
The way we look at it is if somebody puts full effort into golf, it leads to them becoming better people. Golf builds character and it puts kids on a path towards success in life while they are having an exciting experience that the person really enjoys.
Hopefully, golf will remain a lifelong passion for them and the message we deliver as junior leaders is extremely important.
In my estimation, every Canadian PGA professional is a junior leader. Continuing to love the game yourself and passing along that passion to others at your facility may be our most important and relevant role in the game and in the golf industry.
There are a lot of outstanding Canadian PGA Members from coast to coast who are doing a wonderful job with their junior coaching programs. This is the foundation on which the health of the golf business and success of our Golf Canada High Performance Programs is built.