The world is beginning to slowly restore itself back to its original form. This means that golf tournaments are going to be kick starting again. As we approach the summer season, junior golfers are faced with a bunch of decisions centered around how they want to spend their summer. They have to decide what tournaments they want to play in, as well as fit it into a reasonable schedule that is feasible to withstand throughout the summer months. The 4 months of summer are arguably some of the most important months of the year in terms of exposure on your journey to playing college golf. While the goal for everyone during the summer months is to play great, the objectives and layout of everyone’s summer season should differentiate based on your graduation year and prior accomplishments. What I mean by this is an 8th grader entering high school should have a much different objective than a junior. Throughout this article I will break down exactly what you need to do in order to achieve your goal of playing at your dream school.
8th graders who are entering high school next fall should be examining their game and deciding what the best possible route for them is. A good place to start would be to take the Junior Golf Hub’s PDI Self Assessment game analyzer found on the JGH home dashboard in order to deem where you currently are on your college golf recruitment journey. For some, they will be ready to travel and play multiple events in a row throughout the state, while others could benefit more by playing local tours and smaller events on a weekly basis. At this stage in your journey I would argue that playing massive tournaments all around the country is major overkill. 99% of kids at this stage are going to benefit more from constant exposure to competition, rather than a few “meaningful” tournaments. When I was a junior golfer I saw so many underclassmen travel around to every AJGA for the open qualifiers to hopefully secure one of the 2-5 spots allocated for qualifiers. I’m not saying this is a terribly bad idea as much as I’m saying that it’s an egregiously inefficient way to compose a schedule. The goal of playing tournaments is to have fun, gain experience, and build your brand for college coaches to gain interest in you. No college coach is going to care that you shot 69 in one of the six AJGA one day qualifiers you played in. The coaches want to see that you were able to win some events and string together multiple weeks of competition with solid play at this age. This is because in college you are liable to sit at campus from Christmas break all the way till Valentine’s day before your first event, but once the season starts up you will be on the road for 8 consecutive weeks with less than 3 days to prepare in between each event. They want to see that the kids they are choosing to invest 4 years of resources in are going to be prepared mentally and physically to play multiple weeks on the road with and without their best game, not just showing up at an AJGA to play one round and then take 6 days off until the next one. I recommend playing a local tour if you are one of the many that have one in your city or neighboring city. I used to play 3 separate tours in different cities spanning all of central Florida and the Tampa region. That exposed me to constant competition, which were valuable reps for when I got to college. Coaches want to see that you know how to win. I see so many kids not playing their local tours because they are “too easy to win.” So, if they are so easy to win, why don’t you go and win every event? Someone has to win, might as well be you. Unfortunately, these are the same kids that I would see enter all of the big amateur events and AJGA’s and end up getting into nothing all summer. I would try to play a tournament every two weeks within 30 miles of my area if that is feasible. I would also play in your State Junior tournament along with the US junior qualifier and US Amateur qualifier. These regional qualifiers unlock National championship level competition through qualification. This kind of competition and experience is unmatched by anything else you can add to your resume. These are important to try and play in regardless of your grade level because college coaches will be paying attention to these tournaments more than anything else in the summer, it also exposes you to how championship golf is set up. These events are where you will be seeing most of your competition for years to come.
Another possibility would be to play in one or two AJGA preseason events to get experience in those kinds of events, as well as secure some performance stars In order to get into AJGA Open events in the future. There are so many amazing events you can play in to increase your exposure to college coaches, and the Junior Golf Hub makes it easy to find them! By simply visiting the Junior Golf Hub’s Tournament Finder tab you will find multiple regional events such as Hurricane Junior Golf Tour events, PGA Section events, and many more that will help you breakout to a larger pool of coaches. The biggest objective of summer for those of you entering high school would be to get into the State Amateur championship for your respective states, and play a bunch of tournaments where you have a chance to win.
Heading into your sophomore year you have likely already played a few events throughout the school season that have exposed you to some of the competitors you will be up against for the next few years. The summer leading up to your sophomore year is where things start to get a little more specific. You are going to want to get a little bit more selective with what tournaments you play in, but only if you have already done the correct things the previous year and a half. If you played a bunch of events last year and have a decent resume built of tournaments you have won or come close to winning, you can now branch out and play less of those local events and venture out to state wide and some AJGA preseasons. You are going to want to play in your State Junior, the US Amateur and US junior qualifier. You can sprinkle in a few of your local tournaments to help supplement the larger events in order to help you prepare and sharpen your game. Sophomore year in a sense is doing slightly less of local events, and shifting some of that focus towards your larger events. If you do this correctly and play solidly, you will have some respectable showings in state events, along with earning some performance stars to secure you some valuable starts in AJGA events. I would spend the next year before the summer heading into junior year looking up tournaments in your state that give you performance stars besides the preseason AJGA events. I would also start reaching out to college coaches with your resume, and supply them with a proposed schedule of events that you will be playing in over the next year and summer. This time should be spent doing everything to prepare yourself for the summer to come.
The summer headed into your junior year is very important. It is the beginning of recognition for the majority of players. This is where coaches start actively recruiting players and specifically watching certain players at events. You are going to need to start competing to win in your state Amateur and AJGA preseasons. You should be playing in one or two AJGA open events and do the Monday qualifiers for any events that are in your state that don’t coincide with one of your bigger state events. You basically just have to play in a few of these bigger events and make sure you are prepared to peak for them. You want to make sure you are staying in the limelight and your presence is seen by the coaches you are actively talking to. Too many kids take too much time between tournaments. What you don’t want is for the coaches who are interested in you to be forced to wait a month for you to play in a tournament. If you schedule your events correctly you will need one or more AJGA’s to play between the time of late May to mid-July, during that time you will want to play your State amateur as well. I would also play one or two tournaments that are local. I used to play 2 tournaments that were in Tampa and Gainesville that I won in my freshman and sophomore summers and loved the venue so much that I decided to use it as repetition to get me ready for my bigger events to keep me sharp. I would block off late May to mid-July for the State amateurs and AJGA’s so that I can devote my time to the US Amateur and US Junior Amateur qualifiers in late July and August, as well as the US open qualifier. These are huge tournaments to play in because it’s the closest thing to what college golf will be like. Most junior events have the course set up favorably for score and pace of play. The US championships are set up very similar to what college will be like. If you do this correctly you will have many coaches in contact with you by the end of the summer and have your list narrowed down.
The summer headed into your senior year is going to be extremely important. You are going to need to play in the State Amateur, the State Junior Amateur, maybe 2 or 3 local events, and then be very particular with where you play the rest of your tournaments. For me I was being recruited by some northern schools in Michigan and Ohio as well as Florida, Georgia, and Virginia So I flew up to Michigan to play in two AJGA Opens and I played well enough to finish top 5 and top 12. The following week I played very well in the Florida boys State junior and finished 10th in a pretty stacked field, which brought out multiple coaches I was talking to as well to spectate. Following the Florida Boys Junior I played two AJGA Opens in Florida. The first I was leading going into the final round and the other I finished top 25. After that I played in the Junior State Match play and made it to the quarter finals. I didn’t do anything spectacular but that run of solid play throughout multiple states basically solidified my position with a school. The point of this is to play events that prove to coaches that your game can travel wherever you go as well as playing in the areas that you’re likely to play in college. If you can go to other states and show up with a solid game, you will definitely solidify your place with a school you are happy with. Your efforts should be focused entirely on the quality and location of events rather than playing a tournament every week of the Summer. Try to play in all of the bigger junior events along with regional Amateur events.
The summer going into college you should play your state junior amateur event, AJGA invitationals if you are ranked high enough, US Junior and US amateur. The rest of your schedule should consist of predominantly Amateur events to transition you out of junior golf. You should be preparing for college and making sure everything that your coach asks you to do is taken care of. I played in a couple solid Amateur events throughout Florida as well as the State Amateur and the State Amateur match play. I feel like this just got me ready to play college golf, and helped ease the transition out of junior golf. The process of recruitment is a long and exciting process when you look at it on paper, but the reality of it is that the experience flies by. It will help you greatly to invest the time and thought required of this process. A common question or concern that I come across is players are unsure of when they should be moving up from local to regional or national events. I also say that the best thing to do is to learn how to win first. You need to be winning tournaments locally. Then you can go to the state and regional level where you will encounter tougher competition. During this time I would still be playing local events. You should be able to have a place that forces you to play well to win, and another level for you to compete for larger events. Once your state tournaments become a normal competitive event to you, I would drop all of the local events besides one that are convenient for you to travel to and focus the majority of your schedule towards championship golf during the summer time. Try to find statewide and national tournaments that are 54 holes or more. This way you become acquainted with championship golf and everything that it entails. In saying this I am in no way insinuating you have to play a full season of AJGA events. You certainly don’t have to play a full schedule of AJGA tournaments as many players and parents say, at the end of the day your progression as a player is the most important part of this time period. You should play as many different credible tours and events as you can find along your journey. The Junior Golf Hub has done a phenomenal job organizing a schedule that has been proven through their success by granting their members the attention and exposure they need through various events along each player’s journey. Visit the Junior Golf Hub and sign up for a comprehensive guide to achieving your dream of being a college golfer today.