JUNIOR GOLF HUB

Junior Golf Hub (www.juniorgolfhub.com) is the premier online community for junior golfers on the rise, parents and college coaches seeking top talent.

JGH provides robust technology tools and education that help players advance to U.S. college golf.  The Hub allows Junior Golfers to build a compelling profile and then ‘Find and Follow’ college golf programs they are interested in.  College coaches search our database of talent and then follow golfers they are interested in recruiting.  In addition, Premium members can access The Hub’s Essential Guide to college golf recruiting which contains clear, step-by-step instructions to playing at the next level.

Overview to College Golf

The following section provides an overview of the college golf landscape in the United States, helps parents and players understand the key steps necessary to play golf in college, and provides an overview of life as a collegiate golfer.

Playing golf in college can be a very rewarding experience. It is an opportunity to compete against top talent and form friendships that can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the process can also be very involved and time consuming with many pitfalls along the way.

To help you, our partner Junior Golf Hub has put together a primer to help you on your journey.   The primer includes an overview of the varied landscape of college golf programs, scoring statistics at each level, a detailed year by year checklist, and overview of life as a collegiate golfer.    Feel free to contact Junior Golf Hub with any questions or for additional help on your college golf journey.

Enjoy!

THE U.S. COLLEGE GOLF LANDSCAPE

There are ~2,200 college golf programs in the United States including 1,300 men’s and nearly 900 women’s programs. It’s important to realize there are golf programs of every shape, size, form, and scoring average. This ranges from top NCAA DI programs to NCAA DIII, NAIA, and Junior College programs.

Here is detailed breakdown of the number of college golf programs by division and gender and an overview of each division:

Number of U.S. College Golf Programs by Association & Division

  NCAA D1 NCAA D2 NCAA D3 NAIA NJCAA
Men 301 230 295 175 191
Women 258 185 198 122 100

Overview by Association & Division

  • Pinnacle of competitive collegiate golf
  • Chances of a high school golfer playing DI golf are a little more than 2% (according to scholarshipstats.com)
  • Wide variance in program types ranging from the top programs to less competitive programs within DI
  • Most time commitment of all the division
  • Strict set of rules around NCAA recruiting rules and regulations
  • Competitive division, though less competitive than DI
  • Often thought of as a ‘middle ground’ between DI and DIII programs.
  • Recruiting timeline begins a bit earlier than DI
  • DII programs allow tryouts
  • In general, less competitive from golf perspective than DI or DII
  • NCAA DIII programs do not offer athletic scholarships but often offer substantial academic aid or grant money
  • Includes many fine academic institutions with stringent admissions requirements, although this does vary considerably according to the institution
  • Time commitment is often less than other divisions
  • Recruiting rules and regulations for DIII are less strict than other NCAA divisions
  • NAIA stands for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Competitive association separate from the NCAA
  • Recruiting rules and regulations are far less strict than the NCAA
  • NJCAA stands for National Junior College Athletic Association
  • Good opportunity for those players who may not have the grades to attend a four-year institution and/or want an affordable education

The following summary courtesy of Junior Golf Hub will help you get an idea of scoring abilities at each level:

Men’s scoring averages from ’16 – ’17 season

Ranking NCAA D1 NCAA D2 NCAA D3 NAIA
Low Player 5th Player Low Player 5th Player Low Player 5th Player Low Player 5th Player
1 – 50 71.3 74.0 72.8 75.7 74.1 77.8 73.9 77.2
51 – 100 71.8 74.8 73.5 76.3 75.3 80.2 74.8 79.0
100 – 200 73.0 75.9 74.9 79.2 77.1 83.3 77.4 84.4 

Women’s scoring averages from ’16 – ’17 season

Ranking NCAA D1 NCAA D2 NCAA D3 NAIA
Low Player 5th Player Low Player 5th Player Low Player 5th Player Low Player 5th Player
1 – 50 72.7 75.9 75.8 80.3 78.4 85.2 78.7 87.0
51 – 100 74.0 77.7 78.7 85.4 84.3 94.7 82.8 95.0
100 – 200 75.9 80.4 83.3 95.4 91.6 112.2 88.0 107.4

YEAR BY YEAR TIMELINE

The following check-list of items provided by Junior Golf Hub will help you be prepared for your life as a college golfer.

Prior to high school, focus on fostering a love of the game and a desire to compete. Play in age appropriate tournaments which for many will include one day Local events close to home.   It’s unlikely that prospects will be recruited prior to high school although for a select few top players this may be the case. Start to work regularly with a trusted coach or advisor who can steer you along the right developmental path as you enter high school.

Freshman year is key towards setting yourself up for long term success in the recruiting process. This is a perfect time to develop proper study habits, conduct initial research on colleges and golf programs, set goals and create a long-term plan to attain them, and play in skill level appropriate tournaments. The level of coach contact in freshman year varies by association, division and athlete skill level although in general it tends to be limited. Prospects are free to reach out to coaches to introduce themselves if appropriate, however coaches in NCAA DI and DII are not allowed to initiate contact with prospects during freshman year. Here is Junior Golf Hub’s freshman year checklist:

  • Academics
    • Check with guidance counselor to ensure you are on track to take NCAA core courses
    • Prioritize academics and develop strong study habits
  • College and Golf Program Research
    • Consider creating initial target college list (30+ colleges)
    • Conduct initial research on target colleges and their golf programs
    • Understand scoring stats at golf programs of interest and set a goal to be at this level
  • Golf readiness
    • Create long term development plan with trusted coach
    • Ensure plan addresses key elements of success (golf skills, physical, mental)
  • Tournaments
    • Play an active tournament schedule (ideally 10+ tournaments)
    • Recognize the difference between Local (18-hole events close to home), State/Regional (36-hole events, often Ranked) and National (AJGA) events.
    • Play in events appropriate to your skill level
  • College Visits
    • Consider unofficial visits when you are traveling for tournaments
  • Resume
    • Create Profile on Junior Golf Hub so coaches can your track progress
  • Other
    • Understand basics of recruiting rules and regulations across divisions and associations
    • Consider a college golf camp

Sophomore year marks an important turning point. The preparatory phase of freshman year is over, and prospects should move into full swing researching colleges and conducting initial outreach to coaches.   On the tournament front many players will move up and play in 36-hole Ranked Regional events and even considering National events if appropriate. On the academic front, prospects should take the pre-SAT or pre-ACT to adequately prepare for the exams in junior year. Be careful not to push too much of this into junior year, as that will leave you short of time. Here is Junior Golf Hub’s sophomore year checklist:

  • College and Golf Program Research
    • Create and/or refine initial target college list (30+ colleges)
    • Conduct initial research on target colleges and golf programs (if not done in freshman year)
    • Understand scoring stats at golf programs of interest and set a goal to be at this level
  • Academics
    • Start to take preparatory tests including pre-SAT, pre-ACT
  • Golf readiness
    • Execute long term development plan
  • Tournaments
    • Play an active tournament schedule comprised of 10+ tournaments
    • Play in 36-hole Regional and Ranked events (Junior Golf Scoreboard, GolfWeek)
    • Consider the AJGA or National tournaments (if skill appropriate). Orient Regional tournament schedule to AJGA PBE map to start earning Performance Stars to carry over into junior year
  • Resume
    • Create and refine profile on Junior Golf Hub
  • Coach Communication
    • Start your proactive outreach to college golf coaches
      • Target programs where your scoring average is within ~10% of team average
      • Request that the coach ‘Follow’ you on Junior Golf Hub to track progress
    • Use ‘triple threat approach’ of e-mail, phone call and hand-written note
    • Maintain correspondence log to track messages out and in and stay organized
    • Target two coach-friendly windows for outreach: Winter (Nov – Feb) or late spring/early summer
    • Carefully prepare list of questions for the coach and a list of questions that coach may ask you prior to meeting
    • Role play with parent or other authority figure phone or in person prior to meeting with coach
    • Recognize that coaches at NCAA DI and DII still cannot initiate contact with prospects, although prospects can initiate contact with coaches
  • College Visits
    • Take unofficial visits when you are traveling your state / regional / country for tournaments
    • Call coach prior to visit to arrange meeting while on campus
  • Other
    • Understand basics of junior golf rankings
    • Understand basics of recruiting rules and regulations across divisions and associations
    • Consider a college golf camp
    • Ensure social media

Junior year is crunch time in college golf recruiting. Prospects register for the NCAA Eligibility center (NCAA DI and DII), take standardized tests (SAT, ACT), move into full swing on college visits and play an active tournament schedule. Coach communication is in full swing and coaches at NCAA DI and DII can initiate contact with prospects. In addition, many prospects verbally commit to their program of choice in junior year. Here is a junior year checklist:

  • Academics
    • Take core standardized tests (SAT, ACT) and other standardized tests (SAT II etc.) if applicable
  • Eligibility
    • Register for NCAA eligibility center
  • College and Golf Program Research
    • Refine and narrow initial target college list
  • Resume
    • Keep Junior Golf Hub profile or Resume updated
  • Coach Communication
    • Recognize that NCAA DI and DII coaches can now initiate contact with prospects
    • Players conduct proactive outreach to college golf coaches
      • Target programs where your scoring average is at or below the #3-#5 players on team
    • Use ‘triple threat approach’ of e-mail, phone call and hand-written note
    • Maintain correspondence log to track messages out and in
    • Target two coach-friendly windows for outreach: Winter (Nov – Feb) & late spring/early summer
    • Carefully prepare list of questions for the coach
    • Create list of questions that coach may ask you prior to a meeting and role play with parent or other authority figure to prepare
    • Send coaches your summer tournament schedule. Ask them what events they will be attending and plan on playing in those events.
    • Updates coaches that are interested regularly on your progress
  • College Visits
    • Take unofficial visits when you are traveling for tournaments
    • Official visits for NCAA DII and DIII
  • Golf readiness
    • Continue to execute long term development plan
  • Tournaments
    • Play an active tournament schedule (ideally 10+ tournaments)
    • Continue to play in 36-hole Regional and Ranked events (Junior Golf Scoreboard, GolfWeek)
    • Consider moving up to AJGA or National tournaments (if skill appropriate). If playing in AJGA, orient Regional tournament schedule to AJGA PBE map to earn Performance Stars

Senior year is the last mile in the recruiting process. Players will refine their college choices, submit applications, and apply for financial aid and scholarships.  Players in NCAA DI and DII may participate in the National Letter of Intent process during designated windows and players in other divisions or associations will finalize their offer letters. Get ready for college golf!

  • College and Golf Program Research
    • Finalize target college list (5-10 colleges)
  • Applications and Financial Aid
    • Finalize and submit all college applications
    • Complete FAFSA form (financial aid) and submit by January 1
    • Apply for scholarships
  • Eligibility
    • Keep information in NCAA eligibility center up to date and submit final amateurism certificate
  • Academics
    • SAT or standardized test retakes (if applicable)
  • Coach Communication
    • Last mile communication with coaches
    • Finalize offer letter or National Letter of Intent (NCAA DI and DII) in designated windows
  • College Visits
    • Conduct official visits (all NCAA Divisions) and unofficial visits
  • Resume
    • Keep Junior Golf Hub Profile updated
  • Golf readiness
    • Continue to execute long term development plan
  • Tournaments
    • Continue to play an active tournament schedule comprised of 10+ tournaments to keeps skills sharp for college golf

COLLEGE GOLF 101

What is the college golf experience like? Depending on your school, division or coach, answers will vary greatly. However, there are many commonalities. Let’s understand some of the basics of college golf across seasons, tournaments, practice schedules and a ‘week in the life’.

Most college golf programs play two seasons: fall and spring. The fall season lasts from September to early November and the spring season lasts from late February to late May. Most schools play roughly 4-5 tournaments in the fall and anywhere between 4-8 tournaments in the spring.   The spring season is generally regarded as the more important of the two seasons as it contains your conference tournament which is the most important tournament of the year and can lead to a NCAA tourney bid.   Lastly, in the off season most programs strongly encourage the team to both workout and practice on individual time over the winter months and play a competitive summer tournament calendar.

Two words come to mind as it relates to practice: Big Commitment. Many golf teams will practice 5 times a week, for roughly 3-6 hours at a time at the home course or practice facility the team uses. Technically the NCAA specifies 20 hours of total practice time per week however here at the Hub we’ve heard rumors that the time commitment can exceed this.   Practices can vary greatly depending on the coach and the facility being used, but most practices consist of 1-2 hours of player chosen practice on either full swing, short game or putting, then 2-4 hours of playing on the golf course. Over the weekend, many programs will allow both days to be off, and others will make either Saturday or Sunday a ‘Play Day’ to a course a little farther away that allows more time for players to travel and play 18 holes for their practice. This is often optional, but encouraged from coaches.   One day a week on the weekend is typically reserved as a rest and recovery day.

When a tournament is approaching, or to set the lineup at the beginning of the golf season, teams will hold inter-squad qualifying for the starting five. This can vary for schools, but typically schools will hold a three-round qualifier for available spots. Teams and coaches develop a system to determine which spots in the starting five are available when and to which people on the team.

The starting five (plus any individuals chosen by the coach) travel to the location of the tournament. There is almost always a practice round for players, on either a Friday, or a Sunday (typically). The next day is 36 holes of stroke play, shotgun start. You will play with two to three other players, all from separate teams and you all will carry your own bag for 36 holes. The day after this is 18 holes of stroke play, same format, and the winning team is announced after that round. After each round, the low four scores from the starting five are taken and added together. This process is repeated for each of the three rounds, and the team with the lowest three round aggregate score is crowned the champion. There is also recognition given to the individual winner of the tournament. In all tournaments except the conference championship, the tournament goes toward the school’s record, however if a team wins Conference, they advance to Regionals. If the team wins Regionals, they go to the National Championship for their Division.

For almost every golf program out there, if a college golfer scores well in a tournament, they will be rewarded by staying in the starting five for the next tournament. If they didn’t play very well, their spot may be up for qualifying, and they will have the opportunity to earn a spot again.

Given the importance of golf fitness, most teams will adhere to some golf specific workout program throughout the year.   However, workout programs can vary tremendously between teams and depending on the season. The amount of times a week will vary depending on the time of year with the winter time experiencing the most workout time and in season experiencing the least. For example, at some programs the in-season workout is typically one hour long and only once a week, while out of season workouts last one hour and can be two to three times a week. Workouts are typically early in the morning before class. Most teams will work with a specific workout instructor with workouts incorporating a mixture of flexibility, mobility, and strength exercises.   We recommend asking your coach about the workout program both in season and out of season and in particular whether the team has a certified coach familiar with expertise in golf conditioning.

Going to college also has a huge academic component that college golfers can’t forget about. If you drop below a certain GPA, you can become academically ineligible. Coaches can also have individual team standards for GPA and class attendance that if not followed could result in being kicked off the team or not being in the starting 5. As a result, time management and serious effort needs to be made toward academic work.

For many college golfers, their classes will necessarily fall from 8:00 am to roughly 1:00pm Monday through Friday. Classes will vary based on the day, and the number of classes per day will depend on your major, number of classes taken, and class choices. After practice (typically around 7-8pm) homework and studying is expected from student athletes. Weekends are also prime times to do homework, study, and prepare for the classwork or tests in the week ahead. For many freshmen and even sophomores, a designated amount of study hall homework or studying is required. This involves a college golfer going to the designated study hall building, signing in, and doing homework or studying for the required study time and then signing out. Coaches will check this study hall time, so don’t slack on this.

When you start in as a collegiate athlete you are given four academic years of eligibility to play college golf. Unless you redshirt your freshman year, your eligibility coincides with this four-year rule. If you take extra semesters resulting in more than four years of eligibility that means you can no longer play for the team.

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