ADVICE FROM ONE PARENT TO ANOTHER
I am not a college golf recruiting expert. I don’t sell anything related to helping your child play college golf. Simply a parent who has worked through the process and learned some things along the way.
Of course, your experience with college golf recruiting will vary from player to player depending on their level of play, location/region, and age.
NLI (National Letter of Intent) signing has been happening over the last several days and my oldest son committed to play golf last week. Felt like a good time to share some tips. My younger son also plays competitive golf and I plan to use these to help him through the process.
College Golf Recruiting tip #1 – Start Early
If your child is interested in playing golf, start thinking about it and getting ready and balanced 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. Good to be on their radar prior to June 15th.
College Golf Recruiting tip #2 – Be Organized
Help your player manage the process. A simple spreadsheet will work. As you player
progresses through high school you will want a way to understand where they stand and which schools/coaches are showing interest.
College Golf Recruiting tip #3 – Initiate Communication with Coaches
Don’t be passive. Don’t sit back and wait for coaches to reach out, because it may never happen. If your child is interested in a school, send that coach an email to express the interest. Include golf and academic highlights (probably a good idea to build a 1-page golf/academic resume).
You may not get responses, but you may still be on their list. Help your player not get
disappointed with no response.
College Golf Recruiting tip #4 – Make Sure Everything is Setup
Make sure your player actively monitors email. Make sure they have voicemail set up on their phone. True story – the school my son ultimately chose tried calling him 3-4 times, but couldn’t leave a message because he never set up voicemail. He almost missed the opportunity, but luckily the coach dropped him a text.
College Golf Recruiting tip #5 – Be Available on All Channels
Similar to #4. Make sure your player has a well-managed email account. Has voice mail
setup. Regularly checks text messages. Engagement when a coach reaches out matters. Make sure your player is listed on ranking websites. Junior Golf Scoreboard for example. If a coach does reach out and asks to talk, say YES. What is the downside of your player learning about a school? Learning how to talk to a coach?
College Golf Recruiting tip #6 – Cast a Wide Net
There are tons of playing opportunities out there. Don’t get hyper-focused on a handful of schools. Keep your options open. Check neighboring states. Consider Division II and Division III schools. Ultimately, you want your player to end up in a place they can compete to play. It is no fun riding the bench on a college golf team.
By the end of my older son’s recruitment, he had contacted or been contacted by ~50
schools – a mix of D1, D2, and D3 schools. I never would have guessed he would end up where he did, but we are very happy about the result.
College Golf Recruiting tip #7 – Play Golf!
Sounds simple, but the key to getting recruited is to play in tournaments and shoot good scores. You may have to travel some. When possible, play in 2 or 3-day events against strong fields. AJGA events get the most attention from coaches, but there are plenty of junior golf opportunities out there.
College Golf Recruiting tip #8 – Send Update Emails to Coaches
Contacting a coach is not a one-time activity. You need to provide periodic updates that include your recent tournament results and upcoming schedule. As you do this, one of three things will happen.
One, the coach will respond and either ask to talk or ask to keep them updated. 2) The
coach will not respond. 3) The coach will respond to let you know they are not interested or that you need to play better.
All of these are useful – track the responses you receive. If you get #1 or #2 keep that team on your list. If you get #3, it might be time to move on from that school. You can always add them back if something changes.
College Golf Recruiting tip #9 – Don’t Freak Out if a Coach Shows Up!
Due to COVID and recruiting dead periods, it didn’t happen this summer, but during a typical recruiting process coaches will come out and watch you play. Talk to your player about not freaking out – keep playing as if they aren’t there. The same goes for parents! The coach is watching your player, but they are also watching you.
College Golf Recruiting tip #10 – Grades Matter!
Don’t let your player get so focused on their handicap and golf ranking that they forget about their GPA and class ranking. A great scholar athlete will have more options than one that struggles in the classroom.
Another way to look at it – is if a college coach is deciding between players that are fairly equal, are they going to choose the kid that can easily transition to college classes or the one that might struggle to keep their grades up?
College Golf Recruiting tip #11 – Be Honest & Request Honesty
Be honest about your interest when talking to a coach and ask them for the same. It is
perfectly fine to ask how their class is coming along. Ask them how many players they plan to take from your year. Ask where your rank is amongst other players they are considering.
College Golf Recruiting tip #12 – Find the Best Fit, not Just Golf Fit
Make sure your player would be happy at the school if golf wasn’t on the table. Yes, they may be going to play golf, but what if for some reason that doesn’t happen? Is the school still a good fit for them?
GOOD LUCK – ENJOY THE RIDE
Best of luck to your player on their golf recruiting journey. There will be highs and lows.
Great calls with coaches and emails telling your player they are not good enough for that specific school. Don’t get frustrated. It may be a winding road, but your player will have options. I believe the above tips will give them the most choices.
Do you have other golf recruiting tips?
About the author
Mike Harris is a former college golfer and dedicated father of two talented junior golfers. With a passion for the sport that began in his own childhood, Mike now focuses on helping his children, Avery and Olivia, navigate the world of junior golf. He’s eager to share tips, advice, and insights with other families on their own golf journeys. Join Mike as he tees off into the exciting realm of junior golf, providing guidance to parents and kids alike.