Becoming a Collegiate Golfer - It's Not All Academic
Only 300 teams exist in Division One men’s golf. Teams select, on average, two new golfers each year. To the casual observer, 600 may seem like a high number, but there are over 150,000 junior golfers vying for those roster spots each year in the United States, not to mention the thousands more competing internationally.
Brendan Ryan is an expert in the field of collegiate golf and has written extensively on the subject. His research and experience has led to many conclusions. The information that follows is based upon research conducted by Ryan and can be explored further in the article linked below.
For junior golfers considering taking their game to the collegiate level, many factors should be considered. The recruitment process is as daunting for most players as it is for coaches. While the top 100 or so junior golfers in the country can see recruitment process lasting only a few months, most players can expect the process to take at least two years.
Beginning in September of the prospective player’s junior year of high school, D1 coaches will begin reaching out to golfers that catch their attention. This shouldn’t be considered an offer, or, in all actuality, anything more than a coach being diligent. During this initial phase, a coach will contact around 600 players; therefore, on average, 598 of these players will not receive an offer.
Aside from coaches reaching out top players, many players take it upon themselves to reach out to coaches, either directly or via a recruitment service. How effective can this be? It depends. Again, players ranked highly enough will have no problem getting through to top programs, but for the average player, flooding inboxes with inquiries and résumés can prove counterproductive.
Even if coaches are emailed, many coaches of top programs receive over 10,000 emails annually. With numbers so high, what can junior golfers do to catch a coaches eye? In short, players should consider the following before firing off that email.
1. Do the research. Rosters are available online. Try to limit your emails to teams with available positions and graduating players.
2. More research. What do the team’s top 3 players shoot on average? If the score is something you shoot consistently, apply. If not, your time can be better spent on other programs.
3. Compare. What is the average NJGS ranking of the teams players? How do you compare?
4. Academics. Can you achieve the SAT score required by the school?
5. Money. Can you afford at least 60 percent the cost of attendance (amount male golfers will be required to cover under scholarship) of the school?
If nothing on the list frightens you, go ahead and press send. Be sure to include your ranking and SAT in the subject line. If something on the list is a concern, keep searching until you find a school in your range.
Lastly, don’t limit yourself to D1 schools. Experience is vital, and continuing to play in as challenging of an environment as possible is essential to development. While you’ll be expected to shoulder more of the burden financially, D3 schools can be a great way to continue to grow your game. These schools can also provide an opportunity to golfers to boost themselves academically if there is trouble reaching a school’s requirements. For more information on the benefits of D3 golf, see the link below.
Also, be sure to read Estafania Acosta and Brendan Ryan's The College Golf Almanac for even more information about golf at the collegiate level.