Tuesday, July 5, 2011
3Jack's Quick Guide to College Golf Scholarship
Recently I’ve received a few e-mails from parents and junior golfers about the basics of getting a Division I college golf scholarship. I’ll try to keep this brief, but here goes:
# OF SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE
Each team is granted 5 scholarships. This for both the men and women team. The men’s teams usually consist of 10 players on a team, each player receiving a ½ scholarship. With the women’s teams there are fewer female golfers out there, so usually there are 5 women on the team and each player gets a full ride. This is important to understand because if a girl can break 75 consistently and has the grades, they can now go to better academic schools for free. The men typically get some sort of free financial aid on top of the scholarship and it usually comes to about 70% of the tuition and room and board paid for when all is said and done.
A few years ago a golf magazine did a survey on college golf coaches and asked what was the most important factor in recruiting golfers and they said it was ‘Grades.’ I think that it didn’t quite tell the entire story.
A prospective collegiate golfer needs to meet the grades and testing requirements of the school. Thus, if a golfer wants to play at Stanford and the Stanford coach thinks they are good enough of a golfer to play on the team…the golfer needs to meet the grade and testing requirements that Joe Schmoe, the Engineering major would need to get into Stanford. So if the minimum requirement for a non-athlete to get into Stanford is a 2000 on the SAT’s, then a golfer will need to have at least a 2000 on their SAT to get in.
Golf is not like basketball or football where those sports bring in money to the school. Thus, their athletes often times don’t need to meet those minimum testing requirements that the other students have in order to enroll at the college. Since golf doesn’t generate revenue, the colleges hold the golfers to the same standard that they hold the average student.
The difference is if you meet the requirements and the coach wants you on the team, you’re not going to have to go thru the same processes (typically) that the normal student does. The normal student may have the grades and test scores, but still lose out because there were others that had better scores and better grades. That won’t happen if you have the grades and test scores and the coach wants you on the team.
For the most part, the golfers actually have to be active and go out and sell themselves to the school. This is very different from say basketball or football where if you’re a very good player, chances are the schools come to you. In golf, you can be a legitimately great player with a great track record and still have to go out and introduce yourself to schools you are interested in.
The two main things that pique a college coach’s interest are:
1. AJGA/IJGT playing ‘resume’
2. Recommendation from certain swing coaches
I’ve gone over this before, but with the AJGA/IJGT…often times it is more about the law of averages than being consistently good. Often times junior golfers don’t miss many tournaments and even if their stroke average is high, they’ll just put down in their playing resume the top 10’s and top 25’s they’ve made and more often than not, coaches are only concerned about that and what your grades are.
Coaches also like recommendations from swing instructors, particularly ones that they have a good rapport with and feel they can trust their judgment. Even if there is one of those swing coaches that you do not want to take instruction from, you should develop a rapport with that coach if they are nearby because they may help you with a recommendation.
There’s a fallacy that doing well in high school events is important, but most of the time it bears no importance. A golfer can win their state high school championship and legitimately be one of the best juniors in the world, but if they don’t have a AJGA/IJGT playing resume they could very well find themselves without a scholarship. That’s how important it is to get into AJGA/IJGT events.
Lastly, a student’s location can be very helpful. If they are in a state with a lot of Division 1 programs they allow themselves to get more exposure automatically. The golfer who doesn’t have that AJGA/IJGT resume but who wins the state championship may get a good scholarship if they win the state championship in places like Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona or California. But the one who wins it in North Dakota or Iowa may be out of luck. So if you’re in Massachusetts, I highly recommend that you get yourself into AJGA and IJGT events.
WALK-ONS NOT WELCOME
Again, this is not basketball or football where teams are very willing to take a walk-on (they don’t guarantee them a spot by any means, but if they feel they are good enough to be a member of the team, they will gladly have them on the team).
More often than not, college coaches want nothing to do with walk-ons, even if they are good enough to start. That is not an exaggeration. And I have really no reason why coaches feel this way. In fact, since the walk on is paying the school to go there, they are a customer of the school and should be afforded enough respect to be given the opportunity to try out for the team.
HIGH TRANSFER RATES
If you don’t get a scholarship to a college team of your choice, don’t worry…there’s still a chance. Transfers happen quite often. A golfer may have a school like University of Virginia in mind and the coach is not interested in them. However, they may wind up playing at a lower level program like Duquesne University and play there for one year, have a very good year and now the coach from Virginia may be interested in them and they are willing to take you in as a transfer. This actually happens quite often
GET TO KNOW YOUR COACH BEFOREHAND
I highly recommend that you go out of your way to ask FORMER players what they think of the coach. I’ve found that it’s pretty much a 50/50 split when it comes to coaches who are liked and respected and coaches who are despised and often times for good reasons.
I would recommend that you be aggressive in pursuing this, finding old rosters and seeing if you can find the former players on Facebook and just state that you’re interested in the school and want to get their true feelings on the coach. I think most of them will give an honest answer and will understand. What often happens is that the coach that recruits you is a different person once you are on scholarship. And it can make for a situation where you like everything about the college except for the coach who is a part of your life on a daily basis. Often times golfers don’t have a choice as it may be the only school offering what they need, but I would want to know what I’m getting into beforehand.
A lot of coaches are head professionals at a local, prestigious golf course. Some have professional status or are an elite amateur who have another job on the side. Most of them are more or less organizers. They organize how much time they want the players on the range, on the practice green and playing golf. They make sure players are in study hall and not skipping class. If a player needs something, like equipment, they’ll often take care of that for them. They usually stray from giving swing instruction and instead work towards mental game and course management instruction.
Facilities differ from place to place, but most schools have either great facilities or a great place to practice. A school like Division III University of Rochester often plays at Oak Hill Country Club. Places like University of Washington have state of the art indoor practice facilities. Often times colleges have decent facilities and decent home, practice course, but will be able to get their golfers onto any course they want. I think it’s important to understand this because all of us want to become better golfers while we are in school. But in general I find that college team’s facilities are quite good.
When I was in college the two major players in supplying college golfers with equipment were Ping (which was the biggest at the time) and Titleist. Cleveland was also pretty generous as well. At that time equipment was usually 20-25% below cost for college players. The golf balls were generally supplied by the school and I think at the time Titleist’s were going for $32 a dozen retail, but colleges could get them for $18 a dozen. Generally there’s an understanding that the colleges won’t abuse the equipment.
I don’t know what the costs are now, but I’m pretty sure it’s similar. It appears that Ping no longer offers the great deals to college kids like they used to as Titleist seems to have a stranglehold on the college game.
Almost always the team takes a bus to the tournament. Probably the biggest things to remember are:
1) Rounds of golf are extremely slow (6 hour round is quite normal)
2) You need to know the rules because if it’s a multi-day tournament and you get DQ’d in day 1, that will make the coach livid.
3) College golf scores will likely be higher than any other tournament golf scores you play because it’s a tough road to hoe. Weather can often be crummy from the unpredictable spring weather, the courses are struggling to get into good condition, and the travel combined with school makes it really rough.