When Should Junior Golf Prospects Expect to Receive Offers from College Coaches?
The timing can vary, but it may be later than you think.
The recruiting process in junior golf has become very accelerated, with
top-ranked prospects verbally committing to college golf programs in the early
stages of their high school careers and even during 7th or 8th grade. Because
of this reality, junior golfers and their parents often become anxious if they
haven’t yet found college golf opportunities. Thoughts like “everyone has
committed except me” and “my chance has passed me by” are all too common. This
inaccurate perspective can lead to unnecessary stress.
Remember, just because some players make early commitments to coaches doesn’t
mean that final recruiting decisions are happening early for most prospects. In
actuality, the majority of junior golfers will usually receive offers and make
verbal commitments during the mid-to-late stages of the summer after their
junior year in high school. For some prospects, opportunities may be found well
into their senior year.
There are a variety of factors I have observed that contribute to this
delayed timing. Review the information below to see why recruiting decisions
often occur later than you may think.
- Coaches like to see the finished product. Although the recruiting
marketplace may require some coaches to aggressively recruit the most proven
stars of junior golf at very young ages, most coaches prefer to see players
develop their skills more fully (into the summer after the junior year) before
making final selections. This timing allows coaches to have a better sense of
the “finished product” they will be getting in a recruit for the next season.
- Academics first. Colleges and universities with elite academic
profiles (i.e., Ivy League, Patriot League, Division III institutions, etc.)
often recruit later in the process because they wait to evaluate candidates of
interest based on academic credentials (using a six-semester transcript and
ACT/SAT scores). Once recruits prove they are in line with academic
requirements for admission, then coaches look more closely at their golf skills
- Late-bloomers are attractive. Coaches at top-ranked Division I
schools frequently sign the majority of their recruits early. However, they
occasionally wait to fill a final roster opening, and will continue evaluating a
“short list” of junior golf candidates into the summer before the early signing
period. Some junior golfers become very successful later in their high school
careers, and Division I coaches will often capitalize on this later success by
waiting to fill a roster opening.
- Demand for Division I often delays Division II and Division III
recruiting. Most junior golfers begin their recruitment with a focus on
Division I programs, but some of these players eventually determine that their
“best fit” may be with a Division II or Division III school. Because of this
dynamic, Divisions II and III tend to have openings later in the recruiting process.
- Competition among coaches creates opportunity. It’s common for
coaches at different schools to be recruiting the same junior golfers. So, once
prospects make their decisions, many coaches will need to pursue other players
on their short lists and potentially look for new candidates.
- Recruiting plans can change. Coaches will occasionally decide to
reopen their search for recruits in a particular graduating class. A few
factors may prompt this action. For example, (1) a current team member
transfers or decides to turn pro, (2) a junior golfer trending very strongly
late in his/her recruiting timeline becomes a desirable option, or (3)
anticipated signees decide not to commit.
Being aware of these recruiting insights can provide you with greater peace
of mind as you pursue college golf. Many quality college programs exist, and
it’s important to realize that your journey as a recruit will be unique to you
and unfold in a time frame that matches your progression as a golfer and
student. Trusting this perspective will set the stage for success and help you
to find the right college golf opportunity.