Landing a golf scholarship can be tough—but it’s not impossible. Of the 1,318 schools that offer men’s golf, 972 of them offer athletic scholarships. However, these programs operate on an equivalency method, meaning coaches distribute their funds across multiple athletes, making full-ride scholarships rare. And even though NCAA Division 3 coaches can’t offer athletic aid, they tend to create scholarship packages with other sources of money. In this section, we break down everything you need to know when it comes to men’s golf scholarships.
|Division Level||Number of Teams||Total Athletes in Divsion||Average Team Size||Scholarships Limit Per Team||Scholarship Limit Type|
|Other 4 year||19||153||6||–||N/A|
The chart above details the total number of golf scholarships at each division level. Men’s golf is an equivalency sport, which means college coaches are given a pool of money to award to recruits and current roster players. They can divide these funds into partial scholarships, allowing them to recognize and award multiple athletes on their team. For this reason, full-ride scholarships are extremely rare in men’s golf and student-athletes need to supplement their athletic scholarships with other forms of aid.
Keep in mind that these are the maximum number of golf scholarships per team. If the school isn’t fully funded—and many golf programs aren’t, especially at the Division 2 level—then they will have fewer scholarship opportunities than listed above. It’s important to establish relationships with college coaches to better understand the financial opportunity available.
The NCAA D1 Council adopted legislation that loosened regulation regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not tied to athletic ability. Effective August 1, 2020, golf programs will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against the maximum athletic scholarship limit. Before this rule change, athletes had to meet certain criteria for their additional aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.
Golf teams will still have a maximum athletic scholarship cap, but student-athletes can seek to add as much need-based aid and academic scholarships as they qualify for. This rule change should allow golf programs that have the funds to extend more money to families and athletes that need it—especially at pricier private colleges.
You might notice that men’s golf rosters tend to be smaller, with the average team size being made up of 10 golfers. Here’s why—only the top five golfers travel to tournaments, and once at the event, the best four compete each day. Therefore, when it comes to offering scholarships, coaches typically recognize the top five to seven athletes on their team.
That’s why student-athletes looking to land an athletic scholarship need to know exactly what each coach is looking for in their recruiting. There’s actually an equation that many coaches use to determine who they’ll recruit—they find the average score of their best four players and subtract it by two. So, for example, let’s say a team’s best scores from the top four golfers adds up to 300, making the average 75. In other words, that specific coach will want to recruit student-athletes who score a 73 or better. Of course, in some cases where the college is already extremely competitive, this equation isn’t always foolproof. But it’s a great way for a coach to determine how they can better their program. More importantly, it’s a useful tactic for student-athletes to help them determine where they can be competitive and earn a roster spot. Remember, though, that coaches usually consider scores from courses at 6,600 yards or greater.
Beyond athletics, there are steps recruits can take to get on a coach’s radar:
From NCAA Division 1 to junior college, there are more than 12,000 men’s golfers competing across 1,318 teams. If you take a closer look at the levels that offer golf scholarships, you’ll see this breaks down to more than 8,300 student-athletes competing for 4,545 scholarships. In other words, the opportunity to receive a golf scholarship is there, but it’s cut in half. Student-athletes seeking an athletic scholarship need to stay on top of their recruiting. Most importantly, they should build a strong online profile, reach out to college coaches and attend tournaments, especially multiple-day tournaments, where they can rank nationally.
NCAA Division 1 college coaches can award a maximum of 4.5 scholarships per team. With men’s golf being categorized as an equivalency sport, coaches tend to break up their scholarship money into partial scholarships for multiple athletes on their team. Usually the top five to seven performers are recognized for their talent. Therefore, full rides are relatively rare, leaving athletes to find other ways to supplement their financial package, whether it be need-based aid or academic scholarships.
NCAA Division 1 is as elite as it gets in college sports. Only two percent of high school men’s golfers go on to play in NCAA Division 1. Student-athletes who want to compete at this level need to start early. Most top Division 1 programs make verbal offers to recruits the summer after sophomore year. And with the average team being 10 college athletes, coaches typically only need to bring on a few recruits each year. Here are the essential steps recruits need to take to play at the highest level:
Like NCAA Division 1, Division 2 also operates on an equivalency model where coaches receive a pool of scholarship money and can decide how they want to allocate these funds. To make the most of their recruiting efforts, most coaches divide their scholarships into partial scholarships, awarding the top performers on their team. Typically, many Division 2 golf coaches will distribute funds evenly across their student-athletes. However, that does mean that athletes are still left to pay for a bulk of college costs. They do this by using what’s available to them, from need-based aid to work study to academic scholarships. Bottom line: creating a robust financial package doesn’t end at an athletic scholarship.
Technically speaking, NCAA Division 3 coaches can’t offer an athletic scholarship—or at least they can’t label them that way. Instead, these coaches work with the admissions department to find opportunities for academic scholarships, merit-based scholarships, grants and work study. With most Division 3 school being made up of private institutions, they tend to have these funds readily available. In fact, 82 percent of NCAA Division 3 athletes receive financial aid. There’s opportunity here to get a competitive financial package that covers tuition, room and board and more.
The NAIA operates just like the NCAA when it comes to scholarships: they can award a maximum number of scholarships per team. Coaches have a total of five golf scholarships available and they usually divide them into partial scholarships across recruits and the current roster. From a competitive standpoint, the top NAIA programs are similar to NCAA Division 3, but there are fewer academic requirements at this level. NAIA could be a great opportunity for student-athletes who started their recruiting journey later in high school as the window of opportunity is usually left open longer with these coaches.
There are three divisions within the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for men’s golf. And at this level, student-athletes will find the most scholarship opportunity. Coaches have up to eight scholarships available per team (the average team size is seven players), which can cover tuition, books and more. Junior college can act as a steppingstone for athletes who want to continue to develop athletically or academically before attending a four-year institution.
Every potential NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 college-athlete is required to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center and submit their transcripts and SAT/ACT test scores, as well as answer questions pertaining to their amateur status. To secure a roster spot and an athletic scholarship, student-athletes must meet specific academic requirements, such as passing 16 core courses throughout high school, maintaining a minimum GPA in these core courses, and meeting the NCAA Sliding Scale requirements. The rules vary slightly between Division 1 and Division 2. Learn more about the specific Eligibility Center requirements to get a sense of what GPA and test scores you need.
We’ve compiled a list of the best men’s golf colleges in all three NCAA divisions and the NAIA. Student-athletes who aim to golf at one of these levels need to research the criteria that coaches are looking for in each division, including average golf scores and tournament experience.