Junior golfers and their parents often wonder how college golf coaches perceive recruits who compete in other high
school sports. Several questions come to mind that I have been asked:
- Does a coach prefer junior golfers to be focused exclusively on competitive golf?
- If our junior golfer plays another sport, will it help or potentially hurt his/her candidacy?
- Should we be worried about limitations on golf practice time or the potential for injuries?
- Is there a point in time during my son or daughter’s high school career that it would be wise to stop playing
Let me provide some thoughts based on my experience as a former Division I head coach and current advisor to junior
golf families pursuing college golf.
For starters, it’s important to understand several of the key attributes coaches value as they research and interview
recruits. Beyond golf scores and academic credentials, coaches like high school golfers who possess a good level of
physical fitness and athleticism. This makeup signals the capacity to hit the ball far and adapt well to a college golf
fitness regimen. Gutsy, mentally resilient kids who thrive in competitive environments are also a preference.
Additionally, because a competitive yet encouraging team culture is crucial to the success of a golf program, coaches
are seeking junior golfers who compete to win, set a good example, and build up teammates; they want incoming team
members to strengthen the camaraderie of the group. Coaches know the traits I’ve mentioned usually translate into
personal success for new college student-athletes and enhance the effectiveness of their golf teams.
So, you can see why coaches would feel it is a positive for junior golfers to be involved in team sports. This sports
diversity prepares them for the college environment and can be an attractive bonus for any junior golfer’s candidacy as
a recruit. Of course, playing high school golf certainly builds the qualities coaches like to see, but involvement in
other sports can offer an extra benefit. For instance, the players on a basketball team must work together in a much
more dynamic way during games to create success for the group. Because of this dynamic, participation in basketball (or
baseball, lacrosse, soccer, to name a few) imprints even more deeply the importance of teamwork, fitness, mental
toughness, and competitive desire. Coaches will appreciate and respect the heightened level of experience in these
With many personal growth and recruiting benefits for junior golfers who participate in team sports outside of golf,
are there downsides? Well, the extra demands on time may limit the opportunities for golf practice after school or on
weekends. Having said that, college coaches do not expect junior golfers to play an intensive tournament schedule during
the school year (maybe one event per month or less), so taking a break from competitive golf and containing golf
practice to just a few hours per week can still work. Plus, this schedule may be a good way to get mentally refreshed
for golf when it ramps up into full focus.
Perhaps the biggest downside to be mindful of is “high impact” sports (football, hockey, or similar), which may bring
an increased likelihood of severe injuries. Kids will be kids, so I’m not suggesting they should stop competing in such
sports due to fear of injury. But, if a junior golfer is keen on positioning for college golf opportunities, it would be
wise to consider playing high impact sports during the earlier years of high school and curtailing involvement after
sophomore year or early junior year. This approach will improve the odds of a junior golfer being healthy and injury
free going into the spring, summer, and fall after junior year, usually the important final stretch of the recruiting
process for most prospects.
Participation in other sports can definitely add to a junior player’s candidacy in the pursuit of college golf. So,
if you’re involved in that special “other” sport, keep on playing, or consider getting started in a new sport today! It
can be a great way to make yourself into a more valuable teammate in the eyes of your future college coach.
To your success,