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Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

What I did on my Summer Vacation: A Visit to the Titleist Performance Institute Junior Performance Center

Earlier this month Allan and I had the privilege of spending the day at Titleist Performance Institutes's Junior Performance Center in Del Mar, CA. An introductory junior camp was going on during our visit and it was great to see Milo Bryant and the TPI System in action! While this might have been a golf camp, it very well could have been called an athletic development camp for pre-teens.  TPI has recognized golf as a late specialization sport and puts the top priority on athletic development in the younger age groups.

When we arrived everything looked like fun and games from the Hannah Montana music blasting from the radio to the obstacle courses.  In reality every small detail has been planned out with painstaking attention to detail from the different grips on the monkey bars (all of which represented the concept of advancing the ball on the golf course) to the visual target lines on the practice tee. After some time on the golf course, the kids enjoyed some fruit and vegetables before beginning the late morning session on the practice ground.  No sugar filled snacks for these kids; fresh fruits and vegetables were the order of the day.  In the spirit of “healthy” competition, a broccoli eating contest had developed…quality nourishment and quality competition all at once!  Milo was quick to tell us a parent had asked him how he got the kids to eat the food provided. He said easy, tell them to!  It's something that seems to have been forgotten in today's society; kids will do what you say. 

Milo went on to explain the morning workout previous to our arrival. The group had spent some time on the golf course; some of the kids had never hit a golf ball before this camp. Instead of spending time getting an eight year old to line up shots the goal was to give the child athletic fundamentals and golf basics on the course. With this in mind the kids were given different options for advancing the ball forward from tee box to hole. One shot might be a traditional golf shot, the next advancement with a lacrosse stick, out of the bunker with a soccer ball and bowling on the green. Pretty cool if you ask me! The kids were learning to control different types of balls and getting used to being on the golf course.  As we all know, golf is a very hard game defined by our bad shots.  Allowing kids the creative freedom in using different implements to learn the concept of advancing on a golf hole gave them an early taste of success. 

Right after eating snack the kids starting bouncing around on the equipment. In the center of the area was The Patch, a creation of the Egoscue Institute.  Allan and I had seen The Patch on the TPI show on the Golf Channel and were excited to see it in person.  It is like a jungle gym you can walk on, a few inches wider than a balance beam.  Some of the slopes on The Patch are level while others are on a slope, there is a slight bouncy give to the material it is made of. You could tell the kids had been practicing on it during free time the first two days of the camp. They were flying up and down on it running and playing tag on it.  Pretty soon they had encouraged me to join in and chase them!

The afternoon activities had the kids focusing on athletic development and not too much focus was put on holding a golf club. An obstacle course was constructed down a trail. It was aprox. 150 yards long. Balance, power, running, jumping stations were included in the context of FUN! Allan and I had great fun helping to take the kids through the course. It was great to see them build confidence doing activities some of them had not been exposed to before. After a couple of trips up and down the course it was time for stations. I had fun helping at a balance station which I called "surfing". A couple of others were swing station which included one with a baseball bat hitting a tether ball type set up and another that a had a rhythmic gymnastics type of ribbon. The kids could hear it go whoosh when they used the proper swinging motion. These kids were having so much fun and they were just not getting tired!

 

Tools to train junior golfers in the 21st century!

While waiting for Milo to bring lunch we played a fun end-of-camp activity. Using a couple of stability balls Coach Ivan Orozco placed the kids in a square and organized a dodgeball game with him on one end and Allan and I on the other. They had a great time trying to not get hit by us.  Milo joined in the square when he got back and the kids had a great time seeing him as a target as well. You just don't see games like this anymore in most settings for fear of lawsuit. The kids were having a blast and didn't really care if they got a little grass stains and neither did their parents!

Seeing the junior system in action at TPI was an invaluable experience. The atmosphere even with these inexperienced golfers was incredible. It was fun yet structured with healthy competition.  The kids wanted each other to do well. I have no doubts if the kids that attended the camp follow through to the weekly TPI classes they will a passion for the game and in return become excellent golfers! I only wish we could have stuck around for the junior elite camp with older golfers which we were generously invited to do so by Milo! We cannot wait to come back! 

Additional resources

Titleist Performance Institute Junior Performance Center

Titleist Performance Institute Junior Performance Center Facebook page

Junior Golf Development at its Finest

Changing the Paradigm: Titleist Performance Institute Junior Development Presentation

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