Going to College Archive

How Do College Golf Coaches Discover Talent?

Planning your competitive season to gain exposure among college coaches

Coaches know that the main difference between being good and being great is in the quality of the athletes they recruit. At the collegiate level, golf coaches discover great athletes several different ways throughout the recruiting process. Sometimes discovery takes place at junior tournaments where coaches see players for the first time. In other cases, talented players initiate contact with coaches through letters, phone calls or emails. Discovery also occurs when a third party (alumnus, golf professional, parent, etc.) recommends a prospect to a coach.

Regardless, coaches are faced with the challenge of identifying and recruiting the best available players in order to help their team improve. They must consider how much scholarship money is available to offer, whether or not the player meets the academic qualifications of the school, and the playing resumes of all available recruits. The overall process is far from scientific. Many coaches claim that they award scholarships based on their instinct, not necessarily on statistics, playing records, or national rankings.

Junior golfers who aspire to compete at the collegiate level need exposure among coaches. The best way to gain this exposure is to compete at the regional and national levels. Players who are successful in competition will be discovered by a college coach. This guarantee results from the fact that so many college coaches are now visiting the recruiting trail on a regular basis throughout the year. And while most of the recruiting takes place in the summer, coaches are out traveling and evaluating talent throughout the academic year as well. The AJGA, FCWT, IJGT, and SJGT are several examples of tours where players gain invaluable exposure among college coaches. Numerous stand alone junior tournaments, such as the US Junior, Orange Bowl Junior, Doral Junior, and Future Masters, provide great exposure as well.

College coaches typically receive hundreds of letters from interested junior golfers every year. Some programs may even receive 500-1000 total letters throughout the season. The goal is to make this an effective communication process for both the prospect and the coach. Letters should be written to coaches where the prospect's golf scores and abilities match up with the current team's top players. Prospects should read the PING American College Golf Guide and visit Golfstat.com to learn more about collegiate tournament results and how good different teams actually are. Unfortunately, inquiries are generally received from prospects that have failed to do their homework in advance. This can become an inefficient use of time for both the coach and the prospect who wrote the letter.

If you elect to write or contact a coach, make sure there is a realistic chance for you to gain admission into the school and to ultimately compete on the team. Apply to the university first to ensure you have the necessary grades and SAT/ACT score. Additionally, research the team’s results over the past several years and make an honest assessment of whether or not you could help the team. Consider the difficulty of the golf courses where the team has played, the weather during their season and the 36-hole college format. Each of these variables has a significant impact on a player’s scoring average in college.

Most college coaches have extensive relationships in the golf industry. They network with other coaches, golf professionals, school alumni, golf manufacturers, and various other members from the golf industry. Junior golfers who have similar contacts should exercise these relationships to help them gain exposure among coaches. Phone calls and letters of recommendations are helpful tools for coaches to rely on in order to make sound recruiting decisions. In many cases, who you know can make the difference in recruiting.

In the final analysis, college golf coaches discover talent in a variety of ways. Sometimes coaches are very calculated in their discovery process while other times they rely on luck and opportunity. From a junior golfer’s perspective, the most important things to focus on are work ethic and attitude. Work ethic and attitude will also be the difference between two comparable players in a case where a coach only has one scholarship to offer. These attributes will lead to direct success on the golf course and ultimately to exposure among college coaches.

Coach Brooks
Red Numbers Golf®


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