Junior golf rankings play a large role in the college golf recruiting process, but they aren’t the ultimate factor when it comes to college coaches filling their rosters. While competing in junior golf tournaments is crucial for demonstrating your skills, we at Junior Golf Hub also like to highlight that rankings aren’t everything. 

When you dive into the junior golf rankings world, you realize it’s quite the jungle; it’s easy to get hyper-focused on event types, field strength and earning points. However, what’s truly important is that you enjoy the game and have a plan to improve – you’re more than just a number, whether it is a ranking or a score.

With that being said, it is essential to have a junior golf tournament strategy in place if you want to play at the collegiate level. Competing in events is an excellent way to show college coaches how you play and what your demeanor is like on the golf course. Having a junior golf ranking gets your name on their radar, and our app simplifies the entire recruiting process.

There are plenty of golf tournament options and even a few ranking systems that will help you achieve your goals of playing college golf. Junior Golf Hub will dive into each ranking system and make sure you’re ready with all our college golf recruiting tips around junior tournaments.

The Basics of Junior Golf Rankings

When getting started with junior golf rankings, it can be difficult to get a feel for everything you need to check off your to-do list. Here are some basics before we go into each ranking system in more detail:

  • Play in as many 36- to 54-hole golf tournaments that you can prepare for. Junior Golf Hub recommends no more than 18 “good” events per year.
  • Start playing in local events and then work your way to bigger events as you are ready. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
  • To be ranked on Junior Golf Scoreboard, you need to play in at least four 36-hole ranked events.

Junior Golf Ranking Sites You Need to Know

There are four major junior golf ranking sites, though you really only need to focus on two if you are looking to play golf in college. Junior Golf Scoreboard and AJGA rankings both have different systems but have some overlap.

Junior Golf Scoreboard

Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings are some of the most viewed in the college recruiting world. This is often college coaches’ first stop when they begin their recruiting process each year.

Fortunately, Junior Golf Scoreboard qualifies a wide array of tournaments worldwide (more than 2,000 per year), so there’s a good chance that the golf tournament you signed up for will count toward your ranking. These events include American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT), Future Collegians World Tour and local PGA section events, among others. Always be sure to check your event is eligible on Junior Golf Scoreboard before registering.

Junior Golf Scoreboard calculates rankings mainly through a combination of scoring differential, strength of field and strength of finish.

  • Scoring Differential (65%): Your score on a given day minus the course rating.
    • For example, if you shoot 75 and the course rating is 73.0, your scoring differential is +2.0. If you shoot 71 on the same course, your scoring differential is -2.0.
    • Junior Golf Scoreboard takes your top 75% scoring differentials and averages them; your bottom 25% are discarded so there’s less pressure around high scores.
  • Strength of Field (25%): How competitive the field in each event you play.
    • While we don’t know exactly how field strength is calculated, Junior Golf Scoreboard will incorporate this into your overall ranking.
    • A stronger field means more highly ranked players are competing whereas a weaker field means lower ranked golfers are playing.
    • Competing in events with a stronger field can garner you better ranking boosts.
  • Strength of Finish (10%): Average finish of the competitor compared to the size of the field.

There are other nuances in Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings, but these basic considerations cover the important points. 

The main takeaways from Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings are the following:

  • Junior Golf Scoreboard is the most popular ranking system viewed by most college coaches. It works on a rolling 52-week cycle.
  • Several junior golf tours have eligible events, making it much easier to hit the four-event minimum to kick off your rankings.
  • Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings are determined mainly by how well you play against the golf course, then by how you play against other ranked golfers.
  • Just because an event may have a weaker field doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compete in it. Play when and where you can and continue to grow your game.

AJGA Rolex Rankings

The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) is one of the most prolific junior golf tours. The AJGA Rolex Rankings are also a popular destination for college coaches.

The AJGA rankings differ from Junior Golf Scoreboard in that you can only rank on the AJGA system if you play in AJGA events; Junior Golf Scoreboard allows you to compete on a variety of tours. AJGA rankings make an exception for elite junior golf events, including the U.S. Junior Amateur, IMG Junior Worlds and the Junior PGA Championships, among others.

When it comes to ranking calculations, the AJGA weighs strength of field and strength of finish  more heavily than Junior Golf Scoreboard; there is no scoring differential. The one similarity is that the AJGA rankings are also on a rolling 52-week cycle.

The AJGA Rolex Rankings are calculated through the following format:

  • Players are ranked by a points average.
      • Points are awarded on a per-event basis. A player’s total points are then divided by the number of events played to derive an average.
      • The minimum events used in the calculation is six, so players who play fewer than six events during the cycle can still rank, though they will not receive full credit for their performance.
  • Players are rewarded for playing in tournaments with stronger fields.
    • Each AJGA tournament has a points value based on the strength of the field, which is calculated by combining the top-10 finishes for boys and top-5 finishes for girls of a given field in the last 52 weeks.
    • Specified Invitational tournaments have a locked-in point value, which is the highest option. Invitational winners earn 200 points, compared to other AJGA events’ winners earning anywhere from 20 to 100 points. There are typically 16 events locked-in at the highest point value each year.

With such a different rankings setup, here are a couple tips for earning the most points on the AJGA:

  • Play in at least six events so you earn full credit for your performance.
  • Note the hierarchy of events in the AJGA schedule to understand the potential points you can earn. Shoot to play in Invitationals with the highest point values or any of the other 20+ events that are locked in at higher point values.
    • The hierarchy of events by points is Invitationals, Opens, Seniors, ACDS Junior All-Star, Junior Golf Hub Preview Series events.

Other Junior Golf Ranking Sites

Two other junior golf ranking sites include World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and Golfweek. These two systems have less of a pull with college coaches for a couple reasons.

First, the WAGR includes players outside of the junior golfer range, which makes it difficult for college coaches to identify potential recruits. The WAGR includes over 10,000 amateurs from more than 100 countries, all who are in different age ranges. These rankings fall in a rolling 104-week cycle and are predominantly determined by strength of field.

Golfweek rankings uses a mathematical formula reliant on players’ win-lost-tied records, though not many coaches check these rankings – or at least not as often.

Junior golf rankings are a lot to take in, so remember that your ranking isn’t everything when it comes to your dream of signing that National Letter of Intent. Trust and enjoy the process and start competing in junior golf tournaments early to get a feel for how they work. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with these events and have some fun; college coaches are looking at more than just your rankings and scores.