During high school, some junior golfers may consider repeating a grade or
pursuing a “post-grad” (or gap) year. Why would these options make sense? The
desire to become more competitive as a recruit by extending the timeline before
starting college is usually the primary motive. Extra time allows a junior
player to mature, improve academic credentials, develop golf skills, and
strengthen tournament results. Ultimately, the potential exists for both
strategies to enhance performance and open up more college golf opportunities.
In this article, the idea of repeating a grade, as well as the pros and cons
associated with this choice, will be explored. A follow-up article
(Repeating a Grade in High School or Pursuing a Post-Grad Year – Part
Two) will address the post-grad approach and why this might be a better
alternative. For now, let’s assess the “repeat a grade” scenario.
As previously mentioned, hitting the reset button and repeating a grade in
high school can help junior golfers gain an edge in the recruiting process. It
positions them to be more physically, mentally, and emotionally mature than the
competing players in their graduating class. Increased physical strength and
the potential to hit the ball farther are likely benefits. Mental and emotional
maturity, and a clearer sense of long-term goals, often comes along with extra
time. And, of course, golf and academic performance have the potential to be
These positives all sound good, right? But when considering the possibility
of repeating a grade, it’s important to be aware of NCAA Initial-Eligibility
Requirements for Division I (assuming Division I golf is of interest). Plus, a
couple of recruiting issues should be kept in mind.
With respect to the NCAA rules, a prospective student-athlete interested in
becoming a qualifier for Division I golf must successfully complete 16 core
courses no later than the high school graduation date of his/her class as
determined by the first year of enrollment in ninth grade (NCAA Division I –
Bylaw 126.96.36.199.1, Core-Curriculum Time Limitation). In simple terms, once a
high school golfer starts ninth grade, he/she has eight consecutive semesters to
successfully complete the required 16 core courses. (Check your high school’s
list of NCAA courses on the Resources page of the NCAA
Eligibility Center website.) This requirement must be met by all
prospects, including those who repeat a
Also, for prospective student-athletes first entering a Division I college or
university on or after August 1, 2016, the NCAA will add new requirements to
become a Division I qualifier. One particular rule will specify that 10 of the
16 core courses must be completed before the start of the seventh semester of
The main keys to satisfying these NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements are:
1. Ensure that none of the 16 core courses are duplicated.
2. Meet the required time frame to complete 16 core courses (eight
consecutive semesters from the start of ninth grade).
3. Complete 10 of the required 16 core courses before the start of the
seventh semester (applies to prospects entering a Division I college on or after
August 1, 2016).
Because each junior golfer may be facing a different situation as the option
of repeating a grade is considered, it is recommended that a student’s parents
consult with the NCAA and his/her high school guidance staff to design a
compliant academic plan. Satisfying the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements,
as well as “amateurism” legislation (i.e., requirements related to preserving
all four seasons of college competition), should be primary objectives.
Given the potential complexities of repeating a grade in high school, it’s
important to recognize that this approach can raise red flags or concerns for
coaches. The coaching audience knows that repeating a grade could result in
compliance issues with the NCAA rules. Consequently, coaches might be less
interested in recruiting a junior golfer if they feel eligibility complications
In the final analysis, the underlying motives for repeating a grade are well
founded. The sport of golf is all about the long race, and more time to develop
skills and maturity can create advantages in the recruiting process. However,
maintaining compliance with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements and
avoiding eligibility concerns from coaches are the primary challenges that
junior golfers need to manage.
As you will see in Part Two of this article, using a post-grad year might be
a worthy alternative. This strategy is allowed within the NCAA rules for all
divisions of college golf. Plus, it affords a junior golfer more time in the
recruiting process with far fewer issues to navigate.