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 and performance.
  • 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.

nicky goetze


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