The Masters Will Have to Wait

Nalani at Drive Chip Putt RegionalAlas, my dear, precious little 8 year old will not be taking a trip to the Masters next year.  Nalani competed at the Southern California Regional Drive, Chip & Putt Championships this past weekend at Morongo Golf Course, Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont.

She hit 3 perfectly straight drives running under 140 Yards scoring 8 points each.  I promise you, they were perfectly straight.  She then made 2 of the 3 putts scoring a total of 65 points (75 being the maximum score).  But, she struggled with the chipping.  She hit 3 very good chips, they all landed within the circle to score, but didn’t score enough points giving her only 12 points.  In the end, she scored higher for both drive & putting than the winner but couldn’t deliver the points needed in chipping.

Medalists for DCP RegionalsI wrote a previous post titled Nerves of Steel.  Nalani was composed the entire time and we tried our best not to put pressure on her.  She did however know that Augusta (confused with Alaska by Nalani) was on the line.  And, she wanted to win.

For someone so young, she is capable of saving Par on holes with her chips on and 1-putts.  But, hasn’t mastered the chip with a tap in which is what needs to be done to win competitions like the Drive, Chip & Putt.

At the end of a long day (as you can see from the dark photos, we finished pretty late in the evening) Nalani was awarded 3 medals: 1st for Putting, 2nd for Drive and 3rd Overall.  We are very proud of her!

How do you read speed for a chip?  Do you prefer a low shot that rolls or the nice high shot with less roll?  Please do share.

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About Sinnary

Sinnary Sam is a marketing professional specializing in Prospect Marketing Events. She works from home part time and manages her four daughters' busy school and sports schedules.

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20 Responses to The Masters Will Have to Wait

  1. Peter August 22, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Hi Sinnary-

    Congratulations on Nalani making it to Regionals, I’m sure it was a great experience for her. My son, Devon, competes in our local Regional on Monday the 26th so I’m getting a bit nervous/excited for him as well.

    As far as chipping goes, we spend about 80-90% of the time working on his short game. He’s 10 and his body hasn’t caught up to his swing just yet to make that massive drive, therefore we’ve been working quite a bit on chipping and putting as we feel that’s where he can grab the most points.

    As far as chipping is concerned, it depends on a bunch of different factors. I’m not a PGA pro, but I try and use different ways of looking at chipping based on his type of swing. In my opinion, the goal of chipping is to get the ball on the ground as quickly as possible and use the slope and speed of the green and let the ball do the work. At such a young age, it’s hard for kids to spin the ball,stop it, or shape it in any way, so it’s important to practice swing speed and give them a target of where they think they should land the ball to let it roll.

    Learning to read greens is important. I hyper-focused on putting with my son for some time before moving him to chipping. The chipping stroke is tough for kids to learn and get comfortable with,but once they get some confidence in their swing, combined with an understanding of how the ball will roll along the green, it will be easier to pick a target and get results.

    In the end, practice practice practice!

    Hope that helps a bit, and good luck next year!!

    Peter G.

    • Sinnary August 22, 2013 at 11:14 am #

      Thanks so much for the feedback Peter. Yes, for this competition, the drive points at this age division really doesn’t help much. In my opinion, I think they should scale the points for driving based on the age division. The girl who ended up winning in Nalani’s age division, actually hit 1 drive OB. But, that didn’t impact the final result much. Much luck to Devon on Monday!

      • Matt Magallanes August 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

        Yes, Peter is dead on in his suggestions. If possible, the PGA teaching professional at our Westhaven Golf Academy recommend spending some time practicing chips on the golf course; hitting up with several balls and then playing them in. This forces one to deal with whatever is presented ad-hoc, thus developing a confidence in chipping from different spots and lies instead of just on the practice chipping areas or the range, which are often repeated shots from one spot. I only mention this as it can kind of be a psych-out to deal with these shots intellectually, calculating the proper combination of movement for the shot. Sometimes the anxiety is more related to developing a good solution for a shot, than taking the shot as planned. She sounds like a talented golfer and if she has the right plan for a chip she may do better.

        Congrats on her good results!

        • Sinnary August 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

          Thanks for the feedback Matt. We do work on chips from different positions, but that is right. The practice greens make it tough to practice different lies and loft.

  2. Gordon Steen August 22, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Hi Sinnary,
    Peter is right when he says get the ball on the ground and rolling as quick as possible, that is the key to good chipping.
    First get Nalani chipping using a 7 iron and using the same type of stroke that she would with a putter. Work on this until it becomes second nature and her chipping will improve dramatically.
    As she comes more proficient she can progress with the wedge, 9 & 8 irons. Leave the sand wedge in the back at the moment as to chip with this club effectively you have to use it aggressively. If she finds she is having difficulty getting the ball rolling with the more lofted clubs get her to address the ball with the toe down slightly. This will help her get the ball further up the club face and not get so much back spin.

    Best of luck

    • Sinnary August 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback Gordon. I will definitely give this a try for her with her 7-iron.

  3. Roy Stock August 22, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    Hi Sinnary,

    My son, Tyler Stock (age 9) won the Regionals in Beaumont with a score of 137 (32 (drive), 50 (chip) and 55 (putt) for a total of 137).

    We knew chipping would probably be the decisive element which is why we practiced it much more than the other two skills (50% chipping/25% driving and putting). We played around with different clubs from 56 deg to an 8 iron and settled on the one he was most comfortable with from that particular distance which turned out to be his gap wedge (50 deg). It was 75% roll with a little spin on it for control. We practiced a lot before the competition (about 1-2 hours a day for 5 days).

    Technically speaking his swing thought was: follow through with the left arm/back of left hand towards the target, concentrate on distance kind of you would for a long putt.

    And lots of practice :)

    Roy Stock

    • Sinnary August 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      Roy, congrats to Tyler! That is awesome! Enjoy the trip to the Masters and good luck to Tyler there! We’ll be with you in spirit! I’m sure we’ll cross paths much more often as our kids grow up together playing SoCal Tourneys.

      We’ll definitely work on chipping with a few different clubs. I suppose we didn’t really focus on practicing FOR the Drive, Chip & Putt. So, perhaps she wasn’t as prepared as she could have been. Nalani seems so young that we always let her play her putts and chips by feel. I took her out for 9-holes when she was 5 and she had 2 chips sink into the hole in that one round. But, now that she is getting older and comprehending more, we will definitely incorporate more types of chips into her practice routine. Thanks for the tips!

      • Sinnary August 22, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

        Wow Dave, I like the coin idea. I was thinking of going to the fabric store and cutting out some circles of something that she might like.

  4. Noah August 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Curious, how were you selected to compete? I live in MN and signed up for the closest one in Chicago. I never heard wind of anything since. How were you all notified? My son would have loved a chance to try!

    Well before I hit post, I did some research. Since I found my answer I thought I would share in case anyone else is looking too.

    “Drawing Result: Unfortunately, your child was not selected via the random drawing. It is still possible those who were not selected as part of the initial random drawing could be added to the field should spots open up due to declines. You will receive an email regarding your child’s status one way or the other as confirmations progress.”

    • Sinnary August 22, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      Noah, yes, they say it’s a random selection which I think is silly. Why bother with a local and regional qualifier if they’re going to make it random? I’m sure there were a lot of kids qualified to compete that didn’t get a chance to at least try. There were also a lot of newbies out there at the local qualifiers who couldn’t even get it off the tee. That said, for future, if your child doesn’t get selected, you may still show up at the local qualifier and get on the wait list in case there’s a no show. But, that may not be so easy for you as it sounds like your the closest local qualifier is pretty far.

  5. Roy Stock August 22, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    Just curious but have you ever tried US Kids Golf? We got Tyler into it last March (2012) and he’s really turned into a well rounded player by playing in a bunch of these tournaments. You drive a lot but it’s a lot of fun and over time it really increases their golfing skills. I like it because I get to be the caddy :) so you can help them learn.

    • Sinnary August 22, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

      Hi Roy, my girls both played US Kids tournaments when they first started out. My 10 year old started at 8 and we did 2 seasons and my 8 year old started at 6 and we did 1 season. They are also members of San Diego Jr. Golf Association and play those tournaments as well as the Southern California PGA Jr. Tour. We also do quite a few of the Future Champions Tournaments as well.

      • Roy Stock August 23, 2013 at 10:10 am #

        Oh wow, you’re doing a lot – awesome. Sounds like us :)

        • Sinnary August 26, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

          Yes Roy, quite a bit. It’s nice to have this little break. I just saw SCPGA’s announcement of the winners. Will keep an eye out for you guys since we’re local!

  6. Jeff Mayhall August 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm #


    I would suggest trying toe chipping. One thing you can’t teach is touch and feel, but toe chipping is the one way to squire a little touch and feel using at 7,8, or 9 iron. Note: The shaft is more upright than usual and the heel of the club is off the ground, so you take the arc out of the club, which allows you to take the club back and through on a straight line, or like a putting stroke. This setup position eliminates direction from the equation and lets you focus solely on distance control. After all, if the face of the club is square to the target as it moves straight back and through then the ball must go where the face of the club is aimed.
    Hope this helps! Good Luck

    • Sinnary August 22, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

      Thanks Jeff! We’ll definitely give it a try. She’s fighting me on this one that’s for sure.

  7. Warren August 23, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    Hi Sinnary

    Firstly I want to acknowledge you for the awesome love, care and support that you provide for your daughters. And that their special connection to family is via our great game of golf is special and enduring.

    I know the feelings of pride and satisfaction that you get from working for your daughters love of golf and her goals- however small they may be- is one of the absolute joys of parenthood.

    Also that she seems to be having a ball in her early golfing journey is very rewarding to each of you and is priceless.

    I am a PGA member from Australia now living in Washington DC but previously spent some amazing times in Caarlsbad,

    All of the recommendations made can have some unique contributions to the development of Nalani and by trial and error she will definitely get to Augusta some day.

    Primary to it all is that she learns to LOVE all aspects of her golfing experience- successful and otherwise.

    I wish you guys every success and that she keeps her golf balanced with other life tasks and adventures.



    • Sinnary August 23, 2013 at 8:28 am #

      Thank you for the very kind feedback Warren. We do try to make it a family and friend sport and hope she’ll continue to develop a love for it. She has already made some wonderful connections and friends through the tournaments she plays and we scheduled play dates (on & off the golf course). My oldest plays college golf and I remember during senior year she’d share her Facebook feed with announcements of where her friends have signed to play. It’s a life long sport that matures with the player that is certain.

  8. Sinnary August 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Thanks for the feedback Dawn. I never really thought of the ratio concept. Will have to give that a try with Nalani. She’s being a bit stubborn, likes her sand wedge.

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