An interview with Greg Powers – Pro Golfer turned much sought after Junior Golf coach :
When did you start playing golf ?
My dad was in the army, he was a good golfer and wanted to turn pro in 194. Mom wouldn’t let him. I had the opportunity to go up to the range and practice with him as a 7 year old. I worked very hard and became good. I won High School championships and got a 4 year scholarship to Memphis University and won 9 college tournaments.
In 1970 I went to Tour School and tried to qualify but I missed. There were no mini tours you could play like they are today so I went to Asia and played 14 weeks all over Asia. It was my firsts indoctrination into playing for a living. The next year I qualified along with Lanny Watkins and Tom Watson and I played professionally until 1988.
How did your parents help you in your path to becoming a Pro ?
My parents made many sacrifices . I was the oldest of 7 children and Dad always reminded me that I used up the rest of the kids’ money and I learned to be very appreciative. Dad worked an extra job so I could travel as an amateur. Mom took me to all my tournaments and used to hide behind trees as she thought she was a distraction to me.
These days parents spent thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars annually on coaching, equipment, tournaments and traveling. Is this just the way it is and if your child is not doing it (and nationally ranked by the age of 10) will they have a chance to play Collegiate golf at a D1 school and perhaps make it on the circuit?
That is the way it is these days for better or worse. You have to get good coaching. Kids must be encouraged to work on their craft as they would be encouraged to get good grades. It is imperative that parents give the opportunity to play at a young age where they can develop the skills and learn competition. Then there must be constant evaluation – is there improvement, are they competing with the strong players in the age group?
You see every type of parent caddy out there from the laid-back (rare) to the strict and stressed, to the chronic over-coaching-daddy-caddy-won’t-shut-up. In your experience what is the best way a parent should approach the task of caddying ?
The US Kids Coaching Alliance has a good program which should be attended and studied. Get a class or talk to a pro and get tips from him/her on helping and coaching a kid as a caddy. One of the most important things a caddy does is get the player warmed up properly. The following procedure is beneficial: Arrive 1 1/2 hours before tee off. First spent time putting, then chipping. Follow this by loosening up on the range – you don’t have to hit too many shots out there. Then back to the putting range before you go to the tee. The format gets kids to focus on the short game which is fundamental.
You have said before that a golfer is an island, it is just the golfer out there, responsible for his/her own decisions and game. Most big junior tournaments do not allow caddying. US Kids does allow caddies and I imagine it is an advantage to have someone on the bag to help with little things like foot alignment, club selection and green reading. What it you have a particularly independent child who trusts his/her own abilities (even if they are not that experienced) and refuses to listen to a caddy? Should the player be left to just figure it out from his/her own mistakes and continuing from this, is there an age where the junior must be independent enough to not need someone on the bag ?
Younger age kids, up to 10 years old, definitely need caddies. They are not strong enough to carry a bag and still remain focused. When kids move away from US Kids Golf they are forced into a no caddy situation. You need to monitor how they are performing, whether they are wearing down. At the point a physical fitness routine is imperative. They need strength to be an asset. If they are not strong enough to do it on their own it will be tough moving forward. To play competitive golf you must be strong.