You got your kids started in golf early and now they love the game. They have started to play competitive golf and are interested in playing in college.
This sounds awesome, but how does it work? How do college golf coaches find their players? What does my junior golfer need to do in order to be recruited?
We can help with all of your questions. We can help you find the correct program for your aspiring young golfer.
Below we talk about how college golf coaches look for talent and how you should communicate with them.
Before we get started, one quick rule. Let your child lead the process. You can support them, but they should select the schools and handle the communications.
Golf coaches want to get to know the player, not their parents! With that out of way, let’s dive in!
What Do College Golf Coaches Want To See?
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has established rules for how golf coaches can recruit players.
It is a good idea for you to gain an understanding of them – for example, a college golf coach cannot community (email, text, etc.) with a player until June 15th after their sophomore year of high school.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t monitoring your scores, but they can’t reach out or respond until this date.
Here are the top 3 things that college golf coaches want to see from junior golfers.
1. Play Competitive Golf
This one seems pretty obvious – they want to see you compete in golf tournaments. They want to see how you do against other players.
Playing for your high school golf team isn’t enough. You need to play in state, regional, and national events to get on their radar.
There are several different junior ranking systems, but the one that is used the most is Junior Golf Scoreboard.
In order for a junior tournament to be ranked, it needs to be at least 36 holes and have more than 5 players in your age group.
If you want to look for ranked tournaments in your area, you can use the search on the JGS website.
These types of ranking services help college golf coaches find players and compare them, to see who they want to pursue.
It sounds quite simple, but the best way to attract college golf coaches is to shoot low scores. Demonstrate the ability to play well in competition.
2. Efficient Communications
Unless you are Tiger Woods, you will need to play an active role in your college golf recruiting.
You will need to reach out to college golf coaches (email) if you are interested in their program.
As you can imagine, college golf coaches get hundreds of emails from junior golfers, so you want to make sure the one your send is easy for them to digest.
We would also recommend you are realistic. Research the strength of college teams you are interested in and make sure that matches up with your ability as a player.
Here are some additional tips to make your email stand out from the others:
- Keep the Subject Line Simple – Include Your Name & High School graduation year
- Provide a quick explanation of why you are interested in the school and the golf program
- Attach a resume that includes your grades (academic info) and recent tournament score
- Include your contact information: cell number, social media accounts, etc.
- Provide the coach with your upcoming tournament schedule (in case they want to come to watch you play)
- If possible, include a link to a swing video
It is a good idea to provide periodic updates, but don’t “spam” their mailbox. College golf coaches don’t need a daily or weekly note from you.
Make sure you monitor and are responsive to emails you receive from golf coaches. Many schools will ask you to fill out an online “recruit survey”.
If they ask you to complete a survey, do it fairly quickly.
Finally, make sure your phone is set up with voice mail in case a coach gives you a call.
Golf coaches want to find great golfers, but they also want players that are easy to communicate with and are organized.
3. Your Attitude Matters
The way you behave during a tournament is important. Would you want to coach a player that is screaming, cursing, and throwing clubs?
You never know when a coach may be watching – learn to control your emotions and conduct yourself like a professional.
We all have bad days on the golf course. Don’t let your attitude be the reason a college golf coach decides to talk to a different player.
The other thing college golf coaches will notice is how you interact with your parents.
College golf recruiting is competitive. If two players have similar skill levels, the tiebreaker for a golf coach may be your attitude.
Let’s be honest. You are more likely to be offered a spot on a college team if the coach “likes” you.
How Will College Golf Recruiting Work?
We would explain college golf recruiting by breaking it down into 4 phases: On The Radar, Get to Know You, Offers Received, and Sign. Let’s take a look at each one.
Phase 1: On The Radar
During this phase, college golf coaches learn about you and start to monitor the scores you shoot in tournaments.
This phase can start as early as 7th grade – golf coaches may see your name in the rankings they follow or they learn about you from communications you send.
During Phase 1, golf coaches cannot respond to you, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t following along with your progress.
Phase 2: Get To Know You
This phase starts on June 15th after your sophomore year of high school. College golf coaches can start communicating with you.
If they are interested, they might text you, call you, and/or come to a tournament to watch you play.
It is during this phase that they are deciding if you are a good fit for their program. Does your golf ability and your personality match their team?
This phase can last a year or two and you may be communicating with numerous different coaches.
Phase 3: Offers Received
As you progress through your junior career and golf coaches become interested, you might start receiving offers to join their programs.
There are different types of offers. It is rare for a golfer to get a full scholarship, but you could get an offer for a partial scholarship or simply a spot on the team.
You can verbally accept an offer, but this type of commitment isn’t binding from either side (you or the golf coach).
In theory, if you accept an offer from a college coach, other coaches will stop recruiting you.
During this phase, you can change your mind, but we would recommend you don’t accept an offer unless you are sure you want to attend that school.
Phase 4: Signing Day
This is the final step of your college golf recruitment. This is when you sign an NLI (National Letter of Intent) saying that you are going to play golf for a specific school.
This phase starts in November of your senior year in high school, but you can wait to sign until the following August.
This is a commitment and you should only sign once you are certain this is where you want to go to school and play golf.
3 Tips For Managing Your College Golf Recruitment
We know that this process can be stressful and you want to make the right decision. Here are a few ways to make it easier.
1. Be Organized – Create A Way To Track
Everyone’s college golf recruitment process will be different depending on their level of play and where they are from.
It is possible that you will communicate with 20 – 60 different golf coaches over the 2-4 years of recruitment. We recommend you create a mechanism to track these interactions.
Keep track of the coaches that have expressed interest and the level of interest they have in your joining your team.
As you progress through the phases of your recruitment, you will want to start to reduce the number of golf coaches on your list.
It is always acceptable to ask them “where you stand” – are you their first choice or are you farther down their list?
2. Be Releastic – Explore All Options
There are 300 Division I college golf teams, but if you add in DII, DIII, and NAIA there are over 1,300 golf coaches looking for players.
Your goal doesn’t need to be “DI or bust” – your goal should be to find the right program and school for you.
Most college golf teams have 10-12 players on them, but only 5 get to play in each college tournament.
Would you prefer to be the 12th player at a large program or the 2nd best player at a smaller school?
This is a personal choice, but we believe you will get more out of your college golf experience by going to school where you will be able to play (not ride “the bench”).
Keep your options open!
3. Use Rankings & Scores To Determine The Best Fit
Two things are critical when you pick your college golf team.
- First, you want to have a good relationship with the coach.
- Second, you want to be good enough to contribute to the team.
It can be hard to compare junior golf scores to college golf scores. The course setup in a college event is typically much more challenging.
That being said, we still recommend you research the quality of a team you are considering joining.
Follow them on Instagram, check out results on their webpage, and review their GolfStat team rankings.
Another trick is to check out “current year juniors” on Junior Golf Scoreboard. When they sign to play, the college they are attending will be listed next to their name.
This gives you an idea of where you need to be in the rankings to receive a Division 1 offer. Other factors are involved, but this is a good data point to check.
Good luck with your college golf recruitment. If you are passionate about the game and work hard, there will be a spot for you!