Whether you’re a student looking to get into college golf or a parent helping a potential college golfer, it’s critical to understand that college golf recruiting is becoming more competitive each year.
The bar to become a Division I college golfer is incredibly high, and getting recruited rarely happens by accident.
In this article, we’ll explain how to get recruited for college golf. We’ll cover what college coaches look for, the typical process and timeline as well as practical steps you can take to increase your odds of landing a golf scholarship.
How Does College Golf Recruiting Work?
Before we get too far into this, you should know that college golf recruiting isn’t a simple linear process.
You’ll need to stay motivated and ride the highs and lows if you want to land a golf scholarship.
Sometimes you may feel that the college recruiting process is trending upward, and sometimes you may feel like throwing in the towel.
As with any athletic scholarship, some of your success will boil down to your work ethic.
Some quick tips that should already be on your to-do list:
- Get good grades.
- Research and have a plan for contacting college golf coaches.
- Focus on the weak spots of your game. Keep improving each year.
- Start building your golf resume by competing in high school, regional and national golf tournaments.
All these moves will help you lay a good foundation as a prospective student athlete.
With those tips in mind, let us shift gears and try to see things from the perspective of a college coach.
Initial Talent Screening (How do College Golf Coaches Find Recruits?)
The job of a college golf is to find talented golfers (obviously).
Since golf teams don’t typically have the same funding as basketball or football programs, a coach has to be very wise when selecting students for golf scholarships.
Coaches don’t want to waste time or money, so they need to narrow down who is good enough to merit their attention. This is the talent screening phase.
If you’re a really good golfer (think top 50), you may be lucky enough to get a questionnaire or phone call from a college golf coach.
If this happens to you, respond carefully and quickly.
This tells a coach that you’re serious about playing at the next level and you’re responsible enough to communicate in a timely manner.
If you know you have talent, but you aren’t hearing from any collegiate golf coaches (this is the more likely scenario, by the way), you should reach out on your own.
Be sure to go the extra mile (or yard, if you prefer) to research the university and the coach so you can send out a personalized message about your interest in their golf program.
Make it clear that you have real skills and you want to be a part of their program. A highlight reel is important and should include:
- Practice footage
- Match or tournament footage
- A quick personal introduction
You’ll also want to include your name, recruiting year, email, phone number, any significant academic or athletic achievements.
Some university websites may have a dedicated area for the prospective student athlete.
Carefully follow their process, but also do whatever you can to set yourself apart from the crowd.
As we said earlier, some of your success may boil down to your work ethic.
Assessment (What Do College Golf Coaches Look For?)
Once you make it through the initial talent screening, coaches need to make sure you’re the real deal so they can rank their prospects and figure out where you might fit on their list.
Your scores and other metrics matter. There’s no way around it.
As a high school golfer, you’ll have some stats that coaches care about, but playing in higher level golf tournaments is crucial to getting on the radar.
Your golf tournament performance will be a key metric, so make sure you’re building a solid profile of competitive success.
Again, keep putting in the work to lower your scores and compete in more difficult environments.
Most young talented golfers can drive the ball. If you hit a good tee shot but struggle with your short game, find a par 3 or executive golf course to practice on.
Skills and Demeanor
Some coaches will evaluate prospects from their online profiles and swing videos, so be sure to build your online presence while demonstrating your golf skills.
Make sure you’re a team player who stays calm and collected when a round goes south.
College coaches don’t need a headcase on their roster, they need someone who thrives under pressure.
Leave no doubt that you’re the guy or girl who will fit in seamlessly with their program.
To be a college bound student athlete, you will need to have the test scores and academic performance to meet university standards.
Don’t slack during your high school years or you will limit the number of opportunities that are available to you.
Offers and Verbal Commitments (When Do College Golf Coaches Recruit?)
If a player passes the talent screening and hits all the marks during a formal assessment, he or she may end up on a coaches’ final list.
At this point, the coach may make a verbal offer.
The best NCAA Division I and Division II golf programs typically offer spots to a high school golfer the summer after their sophomore year. This timeline can vary, but you want to get on a coaches’ radar as early as possible.
If you’re not looking to get a golf scholarship, but really just want to play golf at the collegiate level, you may want to look into Division 3 and NAIA schools. The golf talent bar may be a bit lower, and if you’re a good student, you can try to land an academic scholarship instead.
Even though recruiting starts after sophomore year, it’s always better to be proactive and open a dialogue with coaches.
A coaches’ initial recruiting list may include hundreds of players, so you need to set yourself apart from the crowd in order to make that final, much smaller list.
College Golf Recruiting Tips
Now that you understand how a coach typically operates, you should have a bit of an advantage in the college golf recruiting process.
Here are some helpful reminders on how to stand out from the competition.
Improve Your Academic Performance
If you’re not a good student, you need to fix that fast.
To get recruited for college golf, you need a solid academic track record.
The NCAA Eligibility Center has some eligibility requirements that you need to meet to get recruited. The main components that determine NCAA eligibility are your coursework, GPA and ACT/SAT scores.
Make sure you’re familiar with these requirements and work accordingly to maintain a strong GPA and overall academic performance.
Most college golf programs start recruiting players after their sophomore year. However, you should start researching golf programs early in your high school years.
If you wait until your junior or senior year, you will miss out on some opportunities, as most coaches are planning multiple years in advance.
When researching college golf programs, consider factors such as location, size, academics, and the golf program’s reputation.
Visit college golf team websites and pay attention to the player bios and statistics. Use these performance numbers to get an idea of where you need to improve to be ready to play golf at the college level.
Set goals, stay motivated, and be realistic.
Consider Utilizing a College Golf Recruitment Service
There are individuals and recruitment firms that can help make your dream a reality.
If you feel like you’ve hit a wall or need extra assistance, it may be worth utilizing a recruitment service that specializes in college golf.
Participate in Tournaments
Coaches give significant attention to tournament experience when looking for the right candidate.
Winning a local tournament in a town with 5,000 people is impressive, but it is just a small step in the right direction.
Coaches often look at national tournament rankings to scout potential prospects.
Save some money and try to play in a few of these larger events.
Playing in competitive national tournaments isn’t your only chance to get noticed, but it is an excellent opportunity to compete against the best competition and put your skills on a coaches’ radar.
Be Proactive and Persistent
As we mentioned earlier, being proactive can boost your chances of getting recruited.
Before your sophomore year, make a list of different colleges that you’re interested in. From there, reach out to college golf coaches to express your interest in their program.
Here are some helpful tips for making contact with golf coaches:
- Make an online golf resume that includes your academic performance, golf accomplishments, tournament scores, and swing videos.
- Write a letter of interest to coaches to introduce yourself and show your desire to join their program.
- Avoid long emails. Be brief and intentional with what you say.
Keep Honing Your Skills
Don’t be content with how good you are right now.
Sure up your weaknesses and keep building up your strengths.
The junior golfer talent pool is much larger than you think, so you need to keep putting in the work.
In the end, these efforts will show up in your on-course performance and increase your odds of playing at the next level.
Are you a former college golfer?
Feel free to share some of your thoughts on how to get recruited for college golf.