Do you dream of playing golf in college? So do thousands of other junior golfers. Put yourself in position to play at the next level with the following advice from collegiate players, coaches and parents.
Do You Measure Up?
- There are 300 Division I schools with one or two open spots on the golf team per year. Nearly 4,000 players compete for those 600 openings. Ask yourself, “Am I that good?”
- Keep working on your game. Never settle for good enough. Keep getting better.
- Learn to compete and win by playing in tournaments at the right level. Succeed at each level and then move up.
- Compete on the American Junior Golf Association tour and in invitational tournaments. Your finishes will earn you a ranking. Coaches pay attention to the rankings when recruiting new players.
Sketch Your Ideal School
- What kind of college experience do you want? (size, location, culture, etc.)
- Do you want to be sure to play or will just being on the team satisfy you?
- What will you study? If golf doesn’t pan out, will you get what you came for?
Due to NCAA rules, Division I coaches are not allowed to email you before Sept. 1 of your junior year of high school, and they can’t call before July 1 leading into your senior year. By this time, most players have already committed. It’s up to you to get the coaches’ attention, and it is never too early to start.
- Record great scores, tournament finishes and rankings in a résumé. Package this with a video of your swing and recommendations from your coach. Send the package to college coaches.
- Even coaches at small private schools may receive five or six contacts per week, so target your schools carefully.
- If a college coach is interested, s/he cannot contact you yet, but s/he may contact your high school or swing coach to encourage you to stay in touch.
- Set up a campus visit where you can talk with the college coach. Use this visit to gauge his/her interest as well as your own.
- If a coach is ready to make an offer, you are at the top of the list. Negotiate a good package.
- If the coach is not ready to make an offer but remains “very interested,” you’re a bit further down on the list. If the program is high on your list, stay in touch and keep improving. Make them sorry they didn’t make an early offer.
Advice for Parents
- Prepare to drive your kid 3,000 miles over three weeks for tournaments every weekend. At the highest levels, you may spend upwards of $1,500. Some tournaments offer stipends for travel and hotel stays in order to attract a strong field.
- Learn the rules Division I coaches have to follow. Use them to your advantage and avoid costly mistakes or misunderstandings.
- Find out about the coach at each school your kid is considering. Call former players to hear the real scoop. Is this someone you trust as a mentor for four of the most impressionable years of your child’s life?
- Look at the coach’s track record. Is this a coach who can take your kid to the next level?
All coaches want the best players, but not all players fit every program. You are looking for the place where you will fit in best. Coaches can evaluate your golf game in ten minutes. Help them get to know the rest of who you are.
Be honest with yourself and any coach who takes the time to follow you for nine holes. If you’re a skilled player who can score when it counts, you’ll get their attention. Then you’re in the driver’s seat. Know what you want and where you want to play. Look for a program and a coach who can take you and your game to the next level.