How to Plan for College Golf - September 1st and Beyond

Michael J. Smith
  • Author: Michael J. Smith
  • CEO - ForeCollegeGolf
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Earlier this year, April 25th to be exact, the NCAA changed their legislation on official and unofficial visits for prospective student-athletes. The new rule changes delay unofficial visits until September 1st of a PSA’s junior year in high school. The rule change also expedites the start date of official visits by allowing them to take place beginning September 1st of junior year as well.

The main transformations will be seen in the first few days of September (2018) and continue to evolve in years ahead. Right now, we’re not exactly sure what will transpire but the following is a taste of what we can assume.

I believe much more recruiting “movement” will take place in the first week of September than ever before. Coaches who have been eying a prospect will be able to apply the “full-court press” come September 1st, and you better believe the competition for elite players will be more aggressive than ever before.

Prior to September 1st, it’s likely that the top coaches will send questionnaires to players of interest, then communicate with 3rd parties such as advisors, coaches and others to learn more about the prospect. However, once September 1st arrives, many players will take visits as soon as possible, and coaches will propose official visits to their elite recruits.

So what do you need to do?

Plan – Understand your expectations and be realistic.

Visit www.juniorgolfscoreboard.com and find your ranking within your graduating class. Divide that number by 3. This number corresponds to the highest ranked school you should pursue.

Next, identify a list of dream, target and safety schools to contact. (See below for an example of our ForeCollegeGolf “School Database”, we used Microsoft Excel). Additionally, resources like collegegolf.com are for finding contact information for college coaches, academic requirements and scholarship information. Golfstat.com is great to understand and browse the rankings in college golf in all divisions, whether DI, DII, DIII, NAIA or NJCAA. PrepScholar.com is invaluable when comparing the admissions requirements of different colleges and universities.

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Prepare – If you plan to impress coaches on Sept 1st, you should begin creating a marketing portfolio.

The portfolio should consist of a concise introduction letter, resume, swing video, and possibly even a personal interview. Other components, such as a trackman report or other tech-savvy data, have started to become widely accepted. Having all the components of the marketing plan will allow a player to “cast a wide net” when first introducing themselves to coaches. Players need to also be prepared to answer questions from coaches. Creating a solid list of questions for coaches and being prepared to answer

Execute – Don’t sit around and expect coaches to “invite you to the party”.

While this may happen if you are an elite player, it’s certainly not the norm. Once you do your research and identify the schools you plan to send your marketing materials to, the next step is to send introduction emails to coaches.

Send email communications to coaches when they are in the office. This time tends to be in the middle of the day (10am-1pm) in the middle of the week (Tues-Thurs). Don’t forget to include a personal touch to your emails or a few details of why you are interested in that particular school.

Evaluate – Once you’ve sent the initial introduction letters, you can sit back and relax… Phew! But not for too long.

It’s a good practice to give coaches some time to respond, 4-5 days is adequate. However, after that time passes, go ahead and review your inbox. Regardless of how coaches respond after this “waiting period”, good or bad, you will know much more about where you fit in college golf and have a deeper understanding of how to move forward in your recreating search.

If over 25% of coaches responded to your initial introduction emails, Wahoooo! Good for you. This most likely means you were proactive in your research and very realistic about which schools you contacted. If you weren’t so fortunate, look on the bright side; although this might not be the reality you were hoping for, you now have a much better idea of where you stand in the college recurring process, and can now focus your time on other schools at the D2, D3 and NAIA levels.

React – If coaches show interest in you, it’s paramount that you keep the process moving by responding to their messages in a consistent and timely manner.

At this point, your main intention should be to set up future communications, phone calls and campus visits. The focus should be on developing relationships and creating good dialogue on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

If you didn’t receive much interest after September 1st, it’s ok to be disappointed, but also understand how you react from here on out will determine which schools recruit you. Some best practices would include searching for other schools that are lower ranked than those on your initial list or eying schools in a different division. 

Most importantly, understand that you have the power to reach out to Coaches at any time. You can pave your own pathway in college recruiting. I recommend reaching out to coaches on a regular basis (weekly.) Simply introducing yourself and asking questions about their program can go a very long way! These practices will allow you to get your foot in the door and begin developing relationships with coaches.

If you are a Senior, don’t assume it’s too late. Instead, understand the following realities. First, 33% of players sign the NLI in the late signing period. Secondly, coaches are always looking for great players, always! There will be more opportunities for you once coaches understand their recruiting needs relative to what’s available after September 1st.

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Best of luck on the recruiting trail. Please don’t hesitate to visit www.ForeCollegeGolf.com to learn more about the recruiting process or email me directly at mike.smith@forecollegegolf.com to learn more.

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