If you want to play college golf, we suggest you take the first step. It is a common misconception that coaches will be flocking to you with scholarships in hand. However, most juniors don’t know where to begin when it comes to their future in college golf. That’s why we are here to help with some useful information on how to reach out to coaches and begin your search for the perfect golf program.
Where to Begin in your College Search:
A good first step is to research and construct a list of schools you want to look into. As a member of Junior Golf Hub, you’ll have access to our College Match service, as well as our database of colleges and universities with specific golf programs. College Match compares an athlete’s golf and academic data to over 2,200 college golf programs in the US to deliver a list of the ten ‘closest’ college matches. We factor in GPA, standardized test scores, tournament results, scoring averages and more. The Hub’s priority algorithm automatically updates the recommended list of programs as members make changes to their profiles. Keeping your Hub profile up-to-date is critical to getting the most accurate College Match. You can search for different colleges and find school info, tuition costs, academic averages, and golf program info. Perhaps one of the best features is the availability of different coaches contact information. Many colleges will have the head and assistant coach listed, along with their emails and sometimes phone numbers.
Casting a wide net is encouraged, but so is getting a sense of where you might fit in. A popular strategy for prospective college golfers is to select schools where your scores equal those of the fifth-best golfer in the team’s lineup (most college tournaments have teams of five players). Dennis Hillman, director of player development for the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield, Connecticut, says even that can be misleading. “They want kids who are shooting a couple of strokes lower than their fifth player,” says Hillman, who was an All-American college golfer at the University of Tulsa. “They’re trying to improve their program.”
Another way to anticipate the amount of openings on a college team is to study the graduating classes of the players on the team’s roster. If you’re a high school junior set to graduate in 2025, and the college roster has five juniors set to graduate that same year, that means a coach may have several spots to fill in your recruiting class. On the downside, if the coach has only one spot to fill, that means competition might be stiff.
- Spoiler alert! The college golf recruiting process can be time-consuming and involved
- Think of the recruiting process as a series of small steps or ‘chunks’
- Clearly understand what happens in each year of high school
Once you have your list, it’s common for high school golfers to reach out to coaches via email. Through this, you are letting coaches know that you exist and are a little more on their radar. Having a standard template is alright, but Katie Miles, the former women’s golf coach at Georgetown University, advocates for personalizing the email to show interest in and knowledge about the program. It’s best to stick to the basics when crafting your message. A summary of your golf and academic background, a résumé, and a sense of your upcoming schedule should be included. Many players send swing videos, which do not need to come from a full-on production shoot, but are able to give a coach a sense of a player’s general ability. “As a former coach I would get 15 emails every day from recruits, so you want to keep it short and sweet,” Miles says.
We suggest that you use your Junior Golf Hub profile to it’s full potential. Within your profile, you can input all the traditional information that would be found in your résumé, as well as keep track of your scoring and tournament results all in one place. There’s space for your contact information, photographs, and best of all, a gallery of your best swing videos. The most convenient reason for keeping your profile up-to-date is because you can share your profile link directly with coaches. For coaches getting hundreds of inquiries a year, sharing a comprehensive profile gives a good feel of who you are as a player.
More important than what is said in an introductory email is what you say in the next one, and the one after that. “Unless they’re seeing repeated interest, they might not be paying close attention to you. You might have a coach who’s sort of passively following your progress, and then you do something amazing, and you send an email with an update, and then they’re interested all of a sudden,” Miles says.
Golf has become a very data driven sport. Often, coaches can find results of tournaments instantly online. But it is the player behind those scores that they really want to know. As much as college coaches are intrigued by what you’ve done, they mostly want to anticipate where you’re headed. “A ton of kids can play, so they’re looking for intangibles,” Hillman says. “What kind of teammate will you be? How do you handle adversity? Are you a quitter or a fighter? How are you going to represent the school? You can show a lot of this through effort and communication.”
If a coach asks you to send updates, that merely means the coach is open to hearing more. A key distinction is when the coach requests, what Miles describes as, a “call to action”. That can mean setting up a phone call, asking you to visit, or asking you to submit further academic information that will help give a sense of whether you would qualify academically. Unless a coach is reaching out with a “call to action”, the recruitment is probably not as serious as the junior golfer or their parents may think.
- Start reaching out to coaches early in high school if not before
- You can contact a coach at any time, but best times are typically November through February, and early summer
- Reach out using the ‘triple threat’ approach: E-mail, phone call and hand-written note
- Use the Hub for a sample e-mail template and phone script
- Send coaches the link to your Hub profile along with a ‘Follow request’ through e-mail
- Preparation is essential for a phone call with a coach
- Actively rehearse and role play with a parent or friend in advance of a call
- Coaches may not respond to initial outreach so follow up vigorously and be persistent
- If you are on a coach’s radar screen, keep them updated frequently on your progress
For more information on college golf, check out our Essentials Guide. It has helpful tips for researching college golf programs, communicating with coaches, and information on scholarships.
Source: Sam Weinman for Golf Digest
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