THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
The college golf recruiting process is a mixed bag. There will be highlights and lowlights. It is fun, frustrating, exhilarating, disappointing, and exciting. Parents role in college recruiting is very important. Parents need to help their junior golfer without totally driving the process. This can be tricky to balance sometimes, depending on the personality of your child. Also, depending on the skill level of your child, the experience will be different.
Let us start with the good
Overall, I have enjoyed the college golf recruiting for my older son. He will be making his decision soon (in the next 3-4 months) and I would say we have both had fun with the process. Here are some highlights:
- The People You Meet – You get to meet tons of great people during your recruiting. From coaches to admissions counselors to parents of other players, its fun to talk to people in the college golf universe.
- Campus Visits – we have loved seeing different campuses and visiting different parts of the country
- Talking Golf – one of my favorite parts of the recruiting process is getting to talk golf. I am a golf nerd and I have loved sitting in a coaches office and discussing different courses or strategies. Hearing how different programs handle qualifying, player development, etc…..its all good stuff
- Learn About New Opportunities – you realize during the process how little you know about the college golf landscape. There are so many opportunities out there and this allows you to consider schools that never crossed your mind before
Unfortunately, there is some bad….
As I was thinking about this post and reflecting on what I would call “the bad” it all came back to communicating with college coaches. In no way do I mean they are unfair, but this is the hard part on both the parents and the players. For the record, I have been very impressed with college golf coaches at all levels.
Part of college recruiting is getting turned down. Coaches may let you know that you are not good enough for their program or they are already full for your class. Sure, this can be disappointing, but I actually love when they respond and give a clear answer. Eliminate that school from your list and move on!
The non-response is more difficult. Should you continue to contact them or drop them off the list? From our experience, if they don’t respond they probably aren’t interested, but we have seen coaches express interest on our 5th contact, so you never know. If it is a school you are really interested in, I would say keep contacting them until they send you a “no thanks” response.
The final tricky thing with college golf recruiting is hot & cold. One day a coach wants to talk on the phone and the next, they are no longer responding to updates. Again, I am not complaining about the coaches, this is just how the process works. It can be a roller coaster ride for your son or daughter.
Over the last couple of years, we have started a college golf tracker. We add the schools that have contacted him or he has contacted and we track the status. We have 48 schools on the list, but we have managed to drive it down to less than 10 now. Removing schools from consideration based on coach feedback or my son deciding to eliminate. So, progress!
The Ugly – how do you help your golfer witht the final decision
Wow – that final decision is hard. It is important to me that my son makes the final decision, but he is always asking for my feedback. How do you answer honestly without overly influencing? Not all teenagers are overly decisive. If you ask my son what he might major in once he gets to college you will get an answer that appears to be a random collection of words that might approximate a sentence, but never really becomes a coherent thought!
Since he wants help with the decision, I have been trying to discuss different factors with him. Do you want a small or large school? Do you want an urban or rural campus setting? Do you want a chance to play right away? Do you want to be challenged academically? Does cost matter (he would say No, I would say Yes:))? How do you feel about the coach? How far do you want to be from home?
We are having good conversations, but I notice he tends to like whichever school he last visited. I think we would refer to this as Proximity bias. He is starting to apply to some schools, so I know the decision is coming in the next few months.
At the end of the day, it probably isn’t as big a deal as we think. Ultimately, college is a blast and he will enjoy the experience regardless of his choice. He may enjoy a 4-year golf career or decide to focus on his studies. If for some reason he really doesn’t like the school he picks, transferring isn’t too difficult these days.
I am going to be happy when he makes his decision, but a little sad the college recruiting process is over. It has been an entertaining ride.
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.