Question Time: Boy wonder – Australian Golf Digest

Meet Zac Wolfe, who recently became world champion at age 6

Whether it’s a prodigious golfer, a pianist or a math whiz, there’s nothing more remarkable than a gifted child. How can someone so young be so accomplished? It’s almost as if it were predetermined or pre-programmed in the child.

Zac Wolfe is a precocious 6-year-old golfer who not only has tremendous physical ability, but is also working on his golf swing at an elite level. Understanding biomechanics and having the ability to make swing changes is advanced for even the best in the game, let alone a child. Zac already has a list of awards and trophies, but what his dad Jeremy says is important are the friendships forged and the life skills he develops on his golf course.

There is nothing more fundamental than sport and all that it brings; life lessons are taught, commitment and dedication are embraced and taught to face adversity. Zac is mature beyond his years, already living by the “better handle hard” mantra.

If it’s not amazing enough that a 6-year-old can compete in world championships and navigate golf courses like a pro, wait until you hear what is considered the new normal for young children. budding who are playing the game today. Children from 5 and 6 years old have entourages including a swing coach, a mental trainer, a physical trainer, their nutrition is monitored (salt tablets and recovery gels in the heat), as well as each part of their game, from game practice sessions on the course.

The game has changed dramatically over the past 20 years thanks to Tiger Woods. Prior to the Tiger era, golf was primarily for country club kids in America; today it’s a global sport and even kids as young as Zac have an insatiable appetite for the game. What most people don’t know is the professionalism of the junior tours and the progressiveness of many countries with their junior development programs. It is imperative that Australia take note as our children are the future of our game, and we are currently lagging behind in terms of the resources and facilities available to them.

Zac is the current Under-6 World Champion, having won his section of the US Kids World Championship. He has enormous potential and a bright future ahead of him. For now, Jeremy Wolfe is developing his talent with every possible resource and spending many days together at the Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne. Whatever the future holds for Zac, this is truly a special time for father and son.

We asked his dad, who works in a senior digital position in banking and is a 15-year-old disabled man from Huntingdale, to answer a few questions about him and Zac.

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What’s the best thing about having a kid you can play golf with? We shared so many amazing experiences and had such great quality times that undoubtedly played a role in forming a very strong bond. Being able to travel together, work as a team, and watch it grow, learn, adapt, and succeed is incredibly rewarding.

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What is the highlight of Zac’s golf to date? The whole week at Pinehurst for the 2022 US Kids World Championship was nothing short of phenomenal. His second round at the Australian Junior Age Championships under illness/duress was incredibly brave and made me very proud (that’s when I realized mentally he had another gear) . His putt to force the playoff and then to win the playoff at the Australian Junior Championships was incredible, his balance under pressure was so impressive. His first round at Moonah Links (Open course) for the US Kids Australian Challenge in late 2021 was the best I’ve seen him drive the ball and he deliberately attacked downwind pins. Finally, Zac’s hole-in-one at Rosebud Country Club as a 4-year-old can’t be ignored. It was a beautifully struck 7-iron that tracked all the way.

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Do you like caddying for Zac? It’s definitely grown on me, and I love helping him chart a course and design a plan around his game. We’ve developed a great little system together and I love feeling part of his team.

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As Zac grows, will you encourage him to play other sports or will you be led by him and what he wants to do? It’s definitely run by Zac and he certainly plays a wide range of sports (from soccer, tennis, cricket, football and basketball to ice hockey imitation on his roller skates in our hallway) . At the moment, we are just trying to give him the best golf and general sports grounding possible, so that he has the best possible opportunity.

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What advice do you have for other parents with young children who want to play golf? Make sure they have role models around them, eg older children, grandparents, friends, etc. who can offer advice and make the game fun.

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What is Zac’s handicap? He is 32 at the Huntingdale Golf Club.

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How and when did Zac start golfing? Zac loved hitting balls in the living room as a kid and had an innate ability with any type of bat and ball.

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Have you noticed a particular affinity with his other sports/interests? We certainly noticed from an early age his incredible ability to understand his body mechanics and adapt, which is to say he is very coachable. By the time he walked, he had developed a full golf swing. During COVID, when other team sports were unavailable, golf became a particularly enjoyable activity to enjoy together, such as chipping games in the backyard.

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Is there a family history of golf or other sports? Zac’s mother, Katherine, comes from a family of golfers. His two brothers and his two parents play. Katherine was also a hands-on player – a 10-12 handicapper – pre-kids and has many sporting interests. She recently completed two Ironman 70.3s.

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Who taught Zac? Sean Kirschenberg when he was around 3 years old. Sean was brilliant at introducing him to games that helped develop his skills. Then came Peter Knight when Zac was around 4½ to 6 years old. Peter was amazing in helping to build Zac’s confidence, swing mechanics and understanding of his movements. He has been working with Richard Woodhouse since June 2022. Richard provides overall mentorship and oversees all aspects of Zac’s game using various sports science tools and in accordance with a long-term development approach. We work together through virtual mediums and face-to-face sessions.

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At what age did you first take Zac to the course? Zac had his first experience on the course when he was 2 years old. He loved intentionally kicking in the bunkers and his sense of satisfaction when he was out was infectious.

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What are Zac’s long term goals? Zac aspires to win the Masters like Tiger (his words), with Tiger’s 2019 win at Augusta leaving a big impression. Zac is obsessed with the college gamers he’s encountered through his games and travels. He loves the idea of ​​playing for your school as a team, training and studying together (plus he loves seeing the amazing training facilities that big colleges have).

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What’s next for Zac? There are some great local US Kids touring series events coming up around Melbourne (and similarly all along the east coast). That said, we see the next few months as a good offload phase for Zac with a lot less play and an opportunity to focus on improving some global motor mechanics. He’s also excited to join the local junior basketball club and get his first taste of out-of-school team sport.

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What is the level of junior golf these days? We were completely blown away by the elite of international events. In each age group, it felt like there were up to 50 kids who every day were able to win. The pitches are incredibly deep, the scores very low, the level of coaching and training mind-blowing. Without local US Kids events, Australia lags far behind in terms of playing opportunities and high performance development programs available to young juniors.

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What does his typical day look like? Prior to the world championship, Zac trained five to six days a week, involving two to three 6:30 a.m. sessions before school, lots of swing and homework, and full Saturdays and Sundays on the course.

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Who are Zac’s golf idols? Tiger and Rory McIlroy are his biggest idols. He is also very fond of Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler and all Australians, namely Cam Smith but also Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, etc.

Zac’s Championship Week Daily Routine

In the hotel:
• Stretches and core work
• Gravity Fit equipment to activate golf muscles
• Swing reps to promote swing feel
• Set rule drills to build confidence
• Postural work
• Breakfast

During the course (about two hours):
• Lighter stretches
• 30 minutes of shot shaping on the shooting range
• One hour of putting – long, short, wavy and technical drills
• Play nine/18 tournament holes

After round:
• Meal after the game
• 30 to 60 minutes of swing practice
• Up to two hours of short game training
• Hotel downtime

Michael C. Ford