When can women’s golf coaches begin to contact potential recruits? It’s the first question student-athletes ask as they kick off their recruiting journey. In general, college coaches can contact student-athletes starting June 15 after their sophomore year. They can call, email, text and make verbal offers. However, a lot of recruiting takes place before this point.
College coaches follow national rankings, evaluate golf scores at top tournaments and analyze swing videos to build their list of potential prospects. So, this section not only explains the men’s golf recruiting rules and calendar, but it also goes into detail on how coaches recruit during—and around—these regulations.
Each academic year, the NCAA establishes a recruiting calendar that outlines when and how college coaches can contact student-athletes. The NCAA golf recruiting rules are designed to prevent coaches from emailing and calling student-athletes too early and too often. Understanding the contact rules will help you maximize your opportunities and establish relationships with women’s golf coaches at the schools you’re interested in. Plus, it’s an easy way to check that your recruiting is on track. For example, if you know coaches are allowed to reach out to athletes after their sophomore year, then you want to make sure to get on their radar before that point.
In May 2019, the NCAA proposed new golf recruiting rules that affect Division 1 college coaches, with an objective to curb early recruiting. In some sports, student-athletes were committing as early as freshman year, and the NCAA wanted to provide athletes with ample time to make their college decision, just like their non-sport peers. However, in women’s golf, these changes will mostly go unnoticed. According to NCAA research, 19 percent of women’s golfers receive their first contact from a college coach during their sophomore year, 47 percent during junior year, and 14 percent during senior year. With most of the recruiting happening from sophomore to senior year, the golf recruiting timeline will remain the same.
NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 golf coaches follow specific regulations established by the NCAA. They can begin to contact recruits starting June 15 after their sophomore year, which includes calling, texting, emailing and sending direct messages. They can even make verbal offers to student-athletes at this time. Then, beginning August 1 before junior year, recruits can partake in unofficial and official visits. Division 3 and NAIA college coaches, on the other hand, aren’t required to adhere to the same set of rules and can reach out to recruits at any point in high school. But most of these coaches start recruiting during junior year and into senior year when test scores become available.
Don’t read that and think that recruiting starts junior year – A lot of work is done before this point. Women’s golf coaches are actively researching and evaluating recruits, so they know exactly who to contact when the time comes. They keep a close eye on national rankings, such as the Junior Golf Scoreboard, the American Junior Golf Association and Golfweek, evaluate swing videos, track scoring averages at tournaments and prioritize high academic recruits. If you’re interested in competing at a top golf program, it’s important to be proactive early on. Research the different division levels to understand what scores and tournament experience you need to be recruited, and register for the NCAA Eligibility Center to ensure you meet academic requirements. Then, you’ll need to create a profile that highlights your swing video and start emailing it to college coaches.
NCAA Division 1 sports adhere to the most restrictive set of rules:
NCAA Division 2 recruiting rules are slightly more lenient than Division 1, mostly around visits:
NCAA Division 3 doesn’t have limits on when coaches can contact recruits. The only restrictions in place are around off-campus contact and official visits. Golf recruits will find that most Division 3 coaches recruit during junior year and into senior year as well.
Throughout the school year, there are periods when women’s golf coaches are restricted from talking with a recruit and/or their parents in-person. In other words, during a dead period, coaches can’t talk to recruits on their college campus, a camp, or the athlete’s school.
NCAA Division 1
Dead Period: November 9–12, 2020
NCAA Division 2
Dead Period: November 9–11, 2020
NCAA Division 3
Year-round recruiting permitted
Getting a verbal offer from a college coach is exciting, but nothing is official until you sign the National Letter of Intent (NLI). The NLI is a binding a contract between a prospective student-athlete and the college: the student-athlete is solidifying her commitment to the school and in return, the college is promising to provide an athletic scholarship for that academic year. Signing the NLI essentially marks the end of a recruiting journey. For all Division 1 sports, except for football and basketball, the signing period for seniors starts November 13, 2019 and ends August 1, 2020.
The 2019-20 school year is the first year that all athletes (outside of football and basketball) can begin signing the NLI and securing scholarships starting November 13, 2019 through August 1, 2020. Previously, there was an early signing period, followed by a break, and then a regular signing period in the second half of senior year. As a result of this change, more and more recruits are signing the NLI earlier than before and committing during the first half of their senior year.
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.