So you’re the parent of a keen golfer who’s determined to use golf as a mechanism to attend a great college - congratulations! Now, if only it was that simple… but the good news is, we’re here to help.
To start with, there’s five things college coaches look for in every player.
If you’re reading this article, we’re assuming your child already loves the game, so you’re definitely on your way. To gain more clarity on how to get into college golf, we talked to an NCAA D1 head coach, who gave us the 411 on how to make it happen.
If your child is interested in playing golf, start thinking about it and getting ready early. The new NCCA rules state that coaches cannot communicate until June 15th following the player’s sophomore year, but don’t wait for this date. 6 months prior, start to build a list of potential schools and drop those coaches a note expressing your interest. It’s good to be on their radar prior to June 15th.
When your child is around age 14, start making a list of all the potential schools they’d like to play at and then start building personal relationships with as many coaches as possible.
There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on a school. Student-athletes should build a list of target schools that meet their academic expectations, athletic ability and personal preferences.
In order to separate your child from the hundreds of other people writing in, make every communication very personal. Research the coach you’re contacting, the programme, and the university. Find a way to make a connection in the email so each coach feels inclined to respond to you.
Think about your jam packed email inbox—and go ahead and triple that for a golf coach. Don’t be surprised if email doesn’t always help you stand out.
The best way to attract the attention of a coach is for your child to speak to them directly either on the phone or in person. A player making the effort to call—rather than an email or you calling on the player’s behalf—lets a coach know that they are interested in the school and the team.
Arrange a phone or video call to really sell who your child is, as a student athlete – it’s much more effective than messaging or emailing.
Ensure your child is as strong a student as possible. Focus just as much on the academics as you do golf scores. Coaches recruit the best students, not just the best athletes.
If you can, get your child to play some junior golf tournaments in the US. Anytime you can get to America in front of coaches is incredibly powerful, especially around age 14 or 15 when coaches start to look out for potential. Try to make a trip for at least two weeks so you can play in 2-3 tournaments, that will give a coach enough flexibility to find the time to come and watch your child.
If you can’t get in front of a coach, creating a golf swing video can be a highly effective way of establishing a relationship with them. They give coaches an opportunity to learn more about your child as a player without having to travel to see them in person. The video should capture a wide variety of swings and club selections from different parts of the course. All swings should be at a normal speed and if done correctly, the video will fall around 10 minutes long.
If your child wants to compete for an NCAA golf team, a good handicap is 3.5/4 or better. Golfers at the Division 1 and 2 levels typically have a – 0 to +2 handicap.
Produce a letter of introduction, golf resume, and possibly a video to be mailed to all the coaches on your list.
“My number one piece of advice for an incoming freshman athlete is to not be afraid to assert yourself,” says college golfer, Jorie Hoddap.
“Shaking hands is the most important part of meeting friends, professors, teammates, coaches, etc., and you never know what connections can be made in the future.
“The other piece of advice I have is that there is an opportunity to learn in every situation. Learn from teammates’ playing styles, learn from how your coaches make decisions, learn from how your upperclassmen lead the team; learning from and observing your surroundings will teach you things that you didn’t even know you needed to learn.”
Understanding where to focus your practice time for greatest score improvement isn’t easy. Circles allows you to identify skills in every area of the game, highlighting the greatest opportunities for you to increase your rate of improvement. The insights you gain from Circles can be provided to college coaches to gain a better understanding of your performance and aid their selection process.