College Golf Recruiting: Why It’s Unique & What I Learned

The recruiting process is an exciting yet complex experience for high schoolers, their families, and the coaches involved. Different collegiate sports have their own approach to recruiting, and golf is no different. So what exactly makes college golf recruiting so unique? If you’re a junior golfer new to the college recruiting process, here are some key things to understand from the perspective of a current college player:

It’s Hard to Stand Out, and that’s OK – College golf recruiting is much different than other collegiate sports. For example, let’s compare two high-school basketball players that play the same position and are relatively the same size. Player 1 is faster, a better ball handler, better shooter, and better defender than Player 2. It is clear to see that Player 1 is an overall better basketball player than Player 2 based on their comparative skill levels. 99 times out of 100, Player 1 is going to beat Player 2 straight up. However, this is not the case in the world of competitive junior golf, where any player can beat another on any given day. The player that won “Tournament A” could finish dead last the next week at “Tournament B”, while the player that finished in the middle of the pack in “Tournament A” could win “Tournament B”. Some players can hit it farther than others, and some have better short games than their peers, but at the end of the day their overall skill levels are relatively the same. This is what makes college golf recruiting unique: the difference in skill level is minuscule. This creates the problem of blending into the pack for some junior golfers. If juniors do not market themselves to coaches in the correct manner to make themselves stand out, then they will drown in the sea of players as equally skilled as them.

Grades are More Important than You Think – Read that again and burn it into your brain. Grades matter at all schools, but they can really make a difference at smaller schools or schools at the Division II and III levels. Golf is a non-revenue sport, so scholarships are fewer and more far between than the money making programs like football and basketball. The better your grades are, the better the chance that you receive some academic scholarship support. Don’t think that coaches won’t be checking your grades either, especially once you get to college.

Golf is an Equivalency Sport – This means that a full scholarship can be broken up and distributed to multiple players. If a coach has a $20,000 full scholarship, it can be broken up several different ways between multiple players. This varies at different levels and between different coaches, so it may or may not be distributed this way at some of the schools you decide to visit. However, this usually will lead to less opportunities to earn a full ride, so don’t be disappointed that a coach isn’t knocking on your door ready to offer you a debt-free academic and athletic career before your freshman year. You may have to earn your way into a scholarship.

Character and Attitude > Low Scores – Believe it or not, many college golf coaches care more about the way a player handles themselves on and off the course than the way they perform (to an extent). I have witnessed and heard coaches say that they have passed on great junior golfers just because they were throwing clubs, cussing, or had a bad attitude on the course. If there is one thing that I could stress it would be to just act like a decent human being. Everyone gets frustrated, but you need to learn how to control your emotions in the most proper way possible. Carry yourself with your back straight and head held high, and don’t throw a fit on the course, especially when a coach is watching. It won’t matter if you fire a 69 and win the tournament; if you’re going to pose as a liability for your team and your school because you can’t control your emotions, then you WILL be overlooked by some coaches.

These are just a few of the important things I learned and experienced throughout the college golf recruiting process. It may seem like a daunting task if you’re new to the process, but don’t stress! Golf is a unique sport with many special players. If you can take care of business in the classroom, handle yourself properly on the golf course, and fire a few good scores along the way, then you will be in great shape!

Here are a few links that I found helpful, I hope you do too:

AJGA Top 10 Recruiting FAQs FAQs


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