With so much focus on playing golf in college, we sometimes forget to think about what our college golf practice schedule will look like once we step foot on campus.
Junior Golf Hub dives into the life of a college golfer so you know what to expect once all your hard work pays off. Each college golf training program is unique to the institution, but there are some commonalities like practicing, qualifying and traveling to tournaments that are seen across all teams.
College Golf Practice Schedule
Many golf teams practice 5 times a week, roughly for 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, or a max of four hours per day. This provides a guideline for the golf practice schedule used by college golfers.
However, because golf rounds take longer than other sports games, a tournament practice round the day before an event begins counts as 3 hours when it can really take 6. All of this to say, while the NCAA predicts 20 hours, golfers likely spend more time training each week, both on the golf course and in the gym.
Workouts can take place early in the morning before classes or at the end of a practice day. These hours count toward your 20 hours per week and often include a few 30-minute sessions with strength and conditioning coaches or fewer, longer sessions depending on the program.
College Golf Practice Routine
Collegiate golf looks different at each institution thanks to its facilities and coaches. When looking for the best college golf program for men or women, you’ll want to consider how these four years will play out.
Are you looking for a hands-on college coach who can give you expert swing advice and be very involved in daily practices? Or do you want to work with your swing coach at home and hope your college coach can fill in the gaps with mental game practice and course management strategies? There’s a wide spectrum of involvement, and you can get a good idea of how your program works when you talk to the coach and visit.
A typical weekday practice includes long and/or short game practice or maybe 9 holes depending on your and your coach’s preference. Many college coaches will set up particular drills throughout practice to keep the team’s competitive spirit strong and help them break ties when choosing the traveling team.
College Golf Tournament Qualifying Rounds
Most college golf qualifying rounds take place over the weekends. This typically includes a day or two of 18 holes to help coaches determine who’s traveling to an upcoming tournament.
How coaches choose their teams is up to them, though you’ll most commonly see the top four qualifying scores make the traveling squad, leaving the fifth member as a coach’s pick.
After a week of so much golf, you’ll usually see Mondays as your rest days; however, some coaches use one of the weekend days as a rest day – it’s all up to the program.
Traveling to College Golf Tournaments
The more golf tournaments you travel to, the more school you’ll miss; however, the best college golf teams have open communication with their professors and work proactively to ensure these relationships continue to thrive.
Many golf programs embody the “student-athlete” philosophy literally, and coaches will support you academically first. In fact, some college athletes can earn Academic All-American honors if they maintain a 3.30 or higher GPA during their four years. Institutions may also have their own academic awards for student-athletes.
Depending on the hosting team’s course availability, some collegiate golf tournaments take place over the weekend while others are during the week. There are two ways to play 54 holes – a 3-day event and a 2-day event.
On 2-day events, you’ll likely travel up the morning of the practice round depending on your team’s proximity to the course and then play 36 holes the first day of the tournament and 18 the next. A common traveling rule is any drive over 8 hours could mean a flight to the tournament, though that varies by program and available resources.
On 3-day events, you play a practice round and then three days of 18 holes. Weather is always a big factor in collegiate tournaments, and some events may need to reformat to 36-18 holes to avoid rain or snow. While college golfers typically walk these events, some events may push golf cart use to beat incoming weather.
Tournament scoring takes the top four scores from each team each day; the lowest three-round aggregate score wins the tournament. The hosts also recognize the low individual of the event, usually with a personal trophy.
If you played well in the tournament, you’ll likely continue to travel with the competitive team. However, if you didn’t play as well as you hoped, you may have to qualify for your spot when you get back to campus.
College Golf Seasons
There are two college golf seasons – the fall and the spring. However, the spring is the championship season where you compete in your Conference championship. If you win – or sometimes place top-2 depending on the conference – you head to Regionals. From there, you can go to your division’s National Championship.
While coaches always have their eye on post-season success, there is still plenty of value in regular season events. Coaches have the opportunity to watch their players compete under pressure for a year and select the best five golfers to play in the Conference championship. Plus, a college’s winning record is built up during the season, which can affect team and individual rankings as well as future recruiting.
While there is certainly a ton of time spent on the golf course with your teammates, playing college golf is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not only do you get to play golf every day, but you also get to receive an education, make lifelong friends and push your game to the next level.