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Everything You Need to Know About Women’s Golf Scholarships

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.   

NCAA women’s golf scholarships by division level

Division Level Number of Teams Total Athletes Average Team Size Scholarships Limit Per Team Scholarship Limit Type
NCAA D1 249 2,258 8 6 Equivalency
NCAA D2 154 1,542 8 5.4 Equivalency
NCAA D3 324 1,669 7 - N/A
NAIA 143 1,145 7 5 Equivalency
Other 4 year 3 12 6 - N/A
NJCAA 98 268 5 8 Equivalency
CCCAA 25 220 6 - N/A
Totals 996 7,132 7    

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.

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How to get a women’s golf scholarship

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:

  1. Know the different division levels: Before reaching out to college coaches, student-athletes need to do their homework and learn about the different divisions. For example, which ones offer golf scholarships? And what scores do you need to qualify? In women’s golf, NCAA Division 1, Division 2, NAIA and junior colleges offer athletic scholarships. See the criteria needed to play at each level.
  2. Academics: An outstanding GPA and high test scores show colleges coaches that you’re more likely to succeed in a college setting and can possibly earn academic scholarship money. They’re continuously looking for well-rounded athletes who excel academically.
  3. Online profile: To improve your chances of being evaluated by college coaches, you need to build an online profile that showcases your average golf score, tournament experience and swing video.
  4. Tournament exposure: Competing in tournaments is crucial when it comes to women’s golf recruiting. College coaches highly value tournament experience and national rankings over high school experience and achievements. Many high school events are only nine holes, while college tournaments are always over 6,000 yards. So, to conduct full evaluations of potential recruits, coaches overlay their scores with tournament experience. Student-athletes can do a simple search on Junior Golf Scoreboard to find a verified event in their area. This will also help you improve your national ranking. 
  5. Expand your search: We always ask student-athletes, “Would you still want to go to this school if you didn’t play your sport?” It’s so important to find a college that is the right fit overall. Think about what you want in your college experience and don’t limit yourself – there’s a lot opportunity outside of Division 1. 

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What are the chances of getting a scholarship for women’s golf?

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.

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How many scholarships are there for women’s D1 golf?

  • Maximum scholarships available per team: 6
  • Total # of D1 women’s golf teams: 249
  • Avg. team size: 8 

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.

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How to get a D1 women’s golf scholarship

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:

  • First, make sure you qualify both academically and athletically. Pick a few schools you’re interested in and visit the team’s roster to see average scores and tournament experience. Most Division 1 golfers shoot in the mid-70s.
  • Then, work on improving your national ranking. Multiple-day tournament play is the number one factor coaches consider when recruiting student-athletes. The most prestigious junior and amateur golf competitions are conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and require student-athletes to qualify. The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), Future Collegians World Tour (FCWT) and the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) also offer multiple day competitions across the country and attract top recruits and college programs alike. Another more cost-effective way to improve your ranking is to find multiple day tournaments on Junior Golf Scoreboard that are located in your area, or participate in advanced events hosted by your state golf association.
  • Don’t wait to get “discovered.” You need to create a communication strategy and market yourself to college coaches. They don’t have the time or budget to see every recruit play in person. That’s why it’s so important for you to create an online profile and a swing video that you can email to coaches to get on their radar.  
  • Lastly, remember to register for the NCAA Eligibility Center, which determines a student-athlete’s academic eligibility based on core course requirements, grades and test scores. College coaches focus their efforts on recruits who excel academically. Think about it like this—when comparing athletes with similar golf scores, coaches will almost always pick the one with better grades and test scores. 

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How many Division 2 women’s golf scholarships are there?

  • Maximum scholarships available per team: 5.4
  • Total # of D2 women’s golf teams: 154
  • Avg. team size: 8 

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.   

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Division 3 women’s golf scholarships

  • Maximum scholarships available per team: 0
  • Total # of D3 women’s golf teams: 324
  • Avg. team size: 7

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.

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NAIA women’s golf scholarships

  • Maximum scholarships available per team: 5
  • Total # of NAIA women’s golf teams: 143
  • Avg. team size: 7 

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.

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NJCAA women’s golf scholarships

  • Maximum scholarships available per team: 8
  • Total # of NJCAA women’s golf teams: 98
  • Avg. team size: 5

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.

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Requirements for women’s golf scholarships

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.

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What are the best colleges for women’s golf scholarships?

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.  

  • NCAA Division 1: Stanford University, University of North Carolina, UCLA, Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, University of Florida, University of California, University of California—Irvine, Duke University.  
  • NCAA Division 2: Point Loma Nazarene University, Rollins College, Western Washington University, California State University—Chico, Truman State University, Regis University, Grand Valley State University, Le Moyne College, Bellarmine University, California State University—Monterey Bay.
  • NCAA Division 3: Amherst College, University of California—Santa Cruz, New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, Emory University, Washington University in St. Louis, Wellesley College, Williams College, Pomona-Pitzer College, Vassar College. 
  • NAIA: Taylor University, Loyola University—New Orleans, Asbury University, The College of Idaho, Bethel University—Indiana, Westmont College, Indiana Wesleyan University, Aquinas College—Michigan, Robert Morris University—Illinois, Huntington University.

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