College golf recruiting is becoming more competitive—the best golf score 20 years ago is now the average score among top NCAA Division 1 players. Even though landing a roster spot can be tough, it isn’t impossible. There are more than 1,000 colleges, from Division 1 to NAIA, that give student-athletes an opportunity to compete at the next level.
But we won’t sugarcoat it—getting there takes work. Recruits need to build a list of realistic schools, create an online profile and swing video, contact college coaches and compete in the right tournaments if they want to be successful. To maximize their opportunities, families should know the criteria that coaches look for in every division and understand the NCAA golf recruiting rules so they can map out when coaches can contact them and establish relationships from the get-go.
Plus, outside of athletics, there are several factors that go into making the college decision, such as academics, cost, school size, campus life, etc. And college coaches—especially golf coaches—really focus on recruiting student-athletes with an excellent GPA and test scores. That’s why it’s so important for families to be thorough when searching for the right fit. This college golf recruiting guide is designed to help you at every step of your recruiting journey.
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One of the most challenging parts of the recruiting process for families is truly understanding when college coaches are actively recruiting student-athletes. The NCAA issues a recruiting calendar each academic year that regulates when—and how—coaches can talk to recruits. For college golf recruiting, contact officially starts June 15 after sophomore year. However, depending on the program, many coaches evaluate athletes and build their list of top prospects before this point, while others continue to reach out well into senior year. This section not only helps you understand the recruiting rules and calendar, but also details how coaches at different division levels approach it.
Every coach has a specific set of criteria they look for when recruiting student-athletes. Golf scores, tournament experience and national rankings are some of the most important factors they consider. From NCAA Division 1 to junior college, this section provides an in-depth look at what qualifications are needed at each level and highlights the steps you can take to get on a coach’s radar.
Every student-athlete dreams of a full ride, but in men’s golf, they just aren’t that common. There are 972 colleges that offer men’s golf scholarships and all of them operate on an equivalency model, meaning coaches are given a pool of scholarship money to distribute to athletes. Typically, they make the most of their funds by awarding partial scholarships to the top five to seven performers on their team. It’s important for student-athletes who want to secure a golf scholarship to understand the financial aid opportunities at each division level and be proactive in their recruiting so they can get evaluated early on.
There’s a common myth in recruiting that college coaches simply “discover” student-athletes, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. High school golfers who are successfully recruited by college coaches do their homework. They know what qualifications are needed to play at each level, when to reach out to coaches, how to build an online profile and swing video and which tournaments matter most. This section breaks down the different steps in the process, so families know what to tackle—and when.
Many college golf coaches overlook high school tournament results when evaluating student-athletes. Instead, they continuously recruit from a certain level of national tournaments to find the best junior golfers in the country. From state golf associations to national tours, there are thousands of events hosted each year, but it’s essential to pick ones that factor into your national ranking and garner coach interest. This section breaks down the different kinds of camps and tournaments you should have on your radar throughout your recruiting journey.
Between the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA, more than 1,000 colleges offer men’s golf. Student-athletes can find highly competitive opportunities across all divisions, but when it comes to searching for the best college fit, there are several factors families need to think about, such as academics, campus life and college costs. For example, several top NCAA Division 2 programs are situated in popular golf states, including Florida, California and South Carolina. Furthermore, late bloomers or athletes who decided to purse college golf later in their high school career might find that NAIA and JUCO programs allow them to continue competing while earning a college degree.
While NCSA provides student-athletes with in-depth recruiting education, there are several golf websites that families can turn to when looking for advice. Websites like Junior Golf Scoreboard and the United States Golf Association (USGA) can keep you informed about news and major events in the men’s golf community. For men’s golf recruiting rankings, student-athletes can view the NCSA’s Power Rankings, or Golf Stat.
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.