Whatís the Story on Division II and Division III Golf Programs?

Always keep an open mind when searching for your best fit

Approximately 30 percent of all college golf teams compete in NCAA Division I. The remaining programs are members of NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), or the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association). Many of these golf programs are highly competitive and offer student-athletes an excellent opportunity to compete in intercollegiate athletics during their college years.

The main differences between Division II/III and Division I programs result from limited financial resources. The first sign of these limited resources is scholarship funding. The NCAA allows menís Division II programs to award 3.6 full scholarships annually (vs. 4.5 in Division I) while womenís Division II programs can award 5.4 full scholarships annually (vs. 6.0 in Division I). Division III programs are prohibited from awarding any athletic scholarships. Also, Division II and Division III programs typically have smaller operating budgets (travel, equipment, facilities, etc.), and in many cases, the coaches have additional university responsibilities to supplement their coaching salaries. Scholarship and budget deficiencies for Division II and Division III programs are where the differences end.

Some of the most talented college golf coaches are found in Division II and Division III programs, and in many cases, these schools are outstanding academic institutions that offer excellent environments for student-athletes to succeed both in the classroom and on the golf course. During my four years as a Division II coach, I was fortunate to have several outstanding teams and numerous highly skilled individual players. These players and their teams were committed to excellence and never felt like they were being slighted in any way as Division II players.

All collegiate players and coaches, regardless of their membership classification or conference affiliation, aspire to constantly improve and to ultimately succeed in postseason championships. For many student- athletes, opportunities to compete in Division I may never exist, but these players can still enjoy a wonderful college golf experience by competing in another division. Competing is the key, and no player, regardless of team, will ever improve as a player if he is not a member of the teamís five-person traveling squad. Some Division I players, who face this exact situation, would be much better off as either Division II or Division III players.

My recommendation is for junior golfers to remain open-minded about where they want to attend school and play golf. There is no exact path that a player must take if he aspires to someday compete as a professional golfer. Players from Division II and junior colleges have won both the U.S. Open and PGA Championships along with countless PGA TOUR titles. The fact remains that golf is a sport where you earn your way into a championship and then the scores you shoot determine your ultimate ranking. In golf there is no professional draft to deal with, and regardless of where you played collegiate golf, you have an equal opportunity to ultimately earn status on the PGA TOUR.

Remember, if your best option is to play golf at the Division II or Division III level, make the most of that opportunity and have a great college experience!


   Back to Going to College