Women’s golf is an equivalency sport, so college coaches can distribute their scholarship money across several athletes on their team. Depending on the program’s budget, some athletes may receive a full ride scholarship, while others could only be offered a partial scholarship. 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 women’s golf scholarships.
|Division Level||Number of Teams||Total Athletes||Average Team Size||Scholarships Limit Per Team||Scholarship Limit Type|
|Other 4 year||3||12||6||–||N/A|
Women’s golf is an equivalency sport, which means college coaches are given a pool of money to award to recruits and current roster players. There isn’t a strict number of athletes who need to be on a scholarship. Instead, coaches can divide their funds into partial scholarships, allowing them to recognize and award multiple athletes on their team. Some college programs are fully funded and can provide full rides to their top performers, while others may offer partial scholarships to several of the athletes on their team. It’s important to establish relationships with college coaches to better understand the financial aid available at each school.
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.
Women’s golf coaches prioritize scholarships to recruits who can make an impact right away. These athletes improve the team’s overall score and are competitive at the district, regional and state level. Then, coaches recognize the travel team. As a reminder, in college golf, only the top five golfers travel to tournaments and once there, the top four players compete. In other words, if you can secure a spot on the travel team, you’ll almost certainly receive some amount of a golf scholarship.
But here’s where most recruits go wrong—they look at scores across the entire college roster to decide whether they can get an offer. In reality, if you’re looking for an athletic scholarship, your scores need to be competitive with the top four golfers on the team. To accurately evaluate opportunity, our recruiting coaches recommend finding the average score of the best four players on the team and then adding three shots to your own average score. So, if you normally shoot 85 in high school, look at college rosters as if you shoot 88. College courses are significantly more difficult than high school ones and coaches typically only consider scores from courses at 6,000 yards or greater.
How does your score match up against the top four athletes? As you search for college opportunities, keep in mind that coaches are looking for recruits who can come in and make an impact right away. If your score doesn’t stand out among the current roster, or you’ll be competing to make the travel team, you’ll probably have fewer scholarship opportunities at that particular program. 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 7,000 women’s golfers competing across 996 teams. If you take a closer look at the levels that offer golf scholarships, you’ll see this breaks down to more than 5,200 student-athletes competing for 3,776 scholarships. It’s important to consider international competition in the fight for a scholarship, as well. Women’s golf is one of the top NCAA sports that rosters international athletes. In fact, 11.7 percent of NCAA golfers are international students.
There’s a common myth in women’s golf that several scholarships go unused. But the truth is that women’s college golf is incredibly competitive and scholarships at most levels are hard to obtain. If scholarships do go unused, it’s usually because the school’s size and location/climate didn’t attract many student-athletes.
NCAA Division 1 college coaches can award a maximum of 6 Division 1 golf scholarships per team. Women’s golf is an equivalency sport, so coaches receive a pool of athletic funds and then they can distribute this money across the team however they wish. For schools that aren’t fully funded, some athletes receive partial scholarships and need to find other ways to supplement their financial package, whether it be need-based aid or academic scholarships. Plus, there’s an additional layer of competition at the Division 1 level in women’s golf: 20.1 percent of D1 golfers are international students.
NCAA Division 1 is the highest level in women’s college golf. Only 2.8 percent of high school golfers go on to play in this division. Competition is fierce and coaches make offers to their top prospects starting the summer after sophomore year. If you’re interested in securing a D1 roster spot, you need to kick off your recruiting journey early. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of getting a Division 1 golf scholarship:
Like NCAA Division 1, NCAA Division 2 coaches also follow the equivalency method. They can award a maximum of eight Division 2 golf scholarships per team and decide how to distribute these funds. Most coaches spread out their money and offer partial scholarships to their athletes. Some coaches will allocate funds evenly across players, while others award the top performers. It’s important to note that not all Division 2 programs are fully funded, so some coaches may have less scholarship money available than others. That’s why we always recommend connecting with the coach early on to fully understand the scholarship opportunities available.
Technically speaking, NCAA Division 3 coaches can’t offer athletic scholarships—or at least they can’t label them that way. Instead, these coaches work with the admissions department to create competitive financial aid opportunities for their student-athletes, such as academic scholarships, grants and work study. In fact, 82 percent of NCAA Division 3 athletes receive some sort of aid. And sometimes these packages can be more appealing than athletic scholarships at other divisions.
NAIA follows the same equivalency guidelines as the NCAA when offering athletic scholarships. Coaches at this level have five NAIA golf scholarships per team and mostly offer partial scholarships to recruits and current roster players. However, top performers could receive a scholarship that covers 75 percent of their tuition, or more. NAIA is often compared to Division 3 and some Division 2 golf programs in terms of competition. This level could be a great fit for student-athletes who started their recruiting journey later in high school and are looking for athletic scholarships. The window of opportunity is open longer with these coaches as they tend to recruit well into senior year.
Student-athletes will find the most scholarship opportunity at the NJCAA level. Coaches have up to eight NJCAA golf scholarships available per team, but the average team size depends on the school. There are several JUCO programs that sponsor golf but don’t field a full team, so they sponsor one to three individuals. These schools are often in colder climate states and don’t attract the same amount of interest as popular golf states (Texas, Florida, Arizona, California, etc.). On the other hand, there are several JUCO schools in California that play in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) and average a higher number of players per team (around 7.5). Either way, JUCO golf can be a great opportunity for student-athletes looking to secure an athletic scholarship. In many cases, financial aid packages are able to cover tuition, books and more. Junior college is a great way to develop athletically or academically at the collegiate level before transferring to a four-year institution.
To secure a roster spot and athletic scholarship at the NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 levels, student-athletes must meet specific academic requirements established by the NCAA Eligibility Center. They’re required to register with the eligibility center, submit their transcripts and SAT/ACT test scores, and answer questions pertaining to their amateur status. The academic requirements vary slightly between Division 1 and Division 2, but generally speaking, student-athletes need to take 16 core courses throughout high school, maintain a minimum GPA in these core courses, and then pass the NCAA Sliding Scale. 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 women’s golf colleges in all three NCAA divisions and the NAIA. Student-athletes who want to be recruited at one of these schools need to research the requirements coaches are looking for, including average golf scores and tournament experience.