You’re a late bloomer! Roster spots for your graduating class at your programs of interest are full. Now what? What are your options? Don’t feel like you’ve been backed into a corner and must make a college decision now. You have options! One of them is a Gap Year. The Gap Year (also known as a Post-Grad or “PG” Year) has been growing in popularity in recent years. The Hub’s got you covered with the WYNK (“What you need to know”) on this important topic and growing trend.
What is a Gap Year?
A Gap Year is essentially a year off between high school and the start of college. The year off allows the prospective student athlete to continue to develop physically, emotionally and of course from a golf skill perspective.
Why consider a Gap Year?
There are multiple reasons to consider a Gap Year. First, the Gap Year may enhance your chances of playing on your favorite or target college golf program. This occurs because the additional year of maturation and development has moved your scores closer to the target scoring range of the college program of your choice. Often, this situation applies to players who are late comers to the game of golf but have seen rapid progress in their golf scores and could greatly benefit from an additional year of skill development.
Another reason has to do with roster spots. College golf programs often have limited spots available on an annual basis and the roster may be full for your graduating class at your programs of interest. In this case, deferring your admittance for a year can allow you to enter college during a year where roster spots are available for the team. Lastly, some people may feel that they are just not ready mentally or emotionally for college life. In this case another year of maturation can help with overall college readiness.
What are the keys to a successful Gap Year?
There are many keys to a successful Gap Year. In our experience, the big ones are (a) a sound and concrete development plan (b) an active tournament schedule (c) proper calendar management (d) proactive coach outreach and (e) hard work and self-discipline. Let’s explore each:
1. Sound development plan:
- Without a thorough, sound development plan (working on the right things) the Gap Year could just be wasted time. Not the way to spend a year! We recommend that you find a credible golf academy (here at the Hub we highly recommend our parent organization Golf Performance Center www.thegolfperformancecenter.com in Ridgefield, CT) where certified and trained coaches oversee your physical, mental and golf skill development
2. Competitive tournament schedule:
- College coaches will be heavily evaluating your tournament performance during your Gap Year. We recommend playing a full calendar of 12 – 18 events filled with both 36-hole Regional and National events. Many junior tours still allow PG students to compete post high school graduation, although the AJGA is a notable exception (and rumored to be reconsidering their policy). We recommend you touch base with junior tours, local PGA sections and other regional events to determine if you are eligible to play on your Gap Year.
3. Calendar Management:
- The Gap Year can involve lots of unstructured time and you’ll need to turn that into a productive daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. This is particularly critical if you are ‘going it on your own’ outside of the academy environment.
4. Proactive Coach Outreach:
- Make sure you let coaches know that you have decided to take a Gap Year and describe your detailed development plan to them. Then make sure to update coaches frequently throughout the year on your progress. Don’t leave them in the dark! Make sure to include your latest tournament scores and progress towards your goals.
5. Hard Work and Self Discipline:
- Lastly, it goes without saying that hard work and self-discipline are prerequisites to getting better and achieving any goal. The Gap Year is no different!
There can be certain drawbacks to the Gap Year. For starters, it may change your social circle on a day to day basis with many of your friends having shipped off to college in the more traditional route. Next, as we mentioned above, without a concrete development plan the Gap Year may not be a productive one. If you are spending the Gap Year at a golf academy there is of course the cost of the academy and another year’s cost on the competitive tournament circuit. Lastly, the Gap Year may improve your odds of getting accepted at a more competitive program, but this is certainly not guaranteed!
How do college coaches view Gap Years?
In our experience coaches can often view Gap Years favorably. The typical view is that the year off can often help both the player and the school’s golf program. That being said, we do recommend you talk with the coach in question to get their views on a Gap Year.
What about NCAA eligibility?
You will not compromise your NCAA eligibility by taking a Gap Year. Make sure, however, that you have met all the NCAA eligibility requirements prior to graduating your senior year and of course do not do anything during the Gap Year that would jeopardize eligibility.
In addition, often students will take a few college classes during their Gap Year at a local institution or community college to stay sharp academically. This is perfectly fine, however we recommend checking with the NCAA first to make sure you do not exceed certain thresholds where you are deemed to be a full time student and hence lose a year of competitive eligibility.
Any final thoughts?
Only you can determine whether the Gap Year is right for you and your circumstances. Evaluate the Pro’s and the Con’s and weigh them accordingly. College is both expensive and an important decision! Take your time to consider all your options and strive to make the best decision given the available information.
Here’s a recap of Hub Essentials!
- A Gap Year is a year off between high school and college
- A Gap Year has multiple potential benefits:
- Additional year of maturation and development, on and off the course
- Enhanced ability to play for target college golf program
- Ability to secure a roster spot if spots are filled for your class year
- Preparation, a sound development plan and self-discipline are key during a Gap Year
- Carefully weigh the pro’s and con’s of a Gap Year before making a final decision
Enjoy Your Journey!
P.S. For your reading pleasure click below for an interview with a successful Gap Year student at The Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield, CT. The Hub sat down with him for a Q&A and got some insight into how the PG year benefitted him.