Do College Golf Camps Provide a Recruiting Edge?
They can help if used in the right way!
I’m sure you’ve heard of college golf camps. As a parent or young player involved in the world of junior golf, camp brochures and emails have likely been sent your way. Camps have become increasingly popular over the years, and many quality options are available to suit your needs and preferences.
For example, junior golfers can attend camps at a favorite college or university. Exposure camps featuring multiple coaches are often attractive. Even “experience” camps, which include travel to amazing golf destinations, offer a memorable combination of fun activities, practice, and play.
If you’re interested in signing up for a college golf camp, considering the menu of options is just the beginning. Making the right choice will depend on what you want to get out of the camp.
One of the desired outcomes I most often hear parents or junior golfers mention is the hope of gaining a “recruiting edge” by attending camps. Since playing college golf is a dream, and perhaps a realistic goal for many junior players, this motive makes sense. So, does visibility at a college camp strengthen a junior golfer’s candidacy and provide that elusive recruiting edge? Great question! And even if this isn’t the primary question in your mind, you’ve probably thought about it.
What’s the answer? Well, it’s yes… no… and maybe. Having been involved with various camps as a former Division I coach, and also in my current career as an advisor, I can add some useful perspectives.
Keep in mind that college coaches do not work camps with the primary goal of finding their next recruits. Promoting their schools/programs, helping develop junior golfers, and earning supplemental income are top priorities. But yes, coaches might spot a recruit to keep an eye on.
Okay, I can hear a few gasps among readers right now. But hold on a moment. Don’t get down on the idea of camps just yet. I believe coaches provide a great service, and camps do support the recruiting efforts of junior golfers if used in the right way.
Here’s what I mean. The beauty of college golf camps is that they offer a platform for junior golfers to have a lot of personal interaction with coaches. This level of engagement is quite valuable, especially since the NCAA recruiting rules limit the ways in which coaches and junior golfers can communicate outside of camps. (See The NCAA Eligibility Center for more details on recruiting rules.)
Kids also have the chance to learn from experienced college coaches about all aspects of the game. They can get the inside scoop on what college golf is like and how to approach the recruiting process. Additionally, campers get to showcase their golf skills during practice/play sessions, and interaction during educational and social activities gives coaches a sense of their personality and character.
The education, visibility, and relationships that can be gained at college golf camps can help any junior golfer build his or her case as a recruit. However, other things need to be considered to make a recruiting edge more likely.
Participation in camps at younger ages can optimize exposure. Going to camps during 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th grade might be best. Why? Well, by that time, kids may already be thinking about college golf, and most coaches are still evaluating prospects in those classes. All to say, talented and skilled campers would be in position to earn the respect of coaches and be tracked in future years. Plus, the opportunity for kids to get comfortable with coaches can help them later on as they communicate with coaches during the recruiting process.
Campers who are older (10th and 11th grade) should not be discouraged. It’s still possible to benefit from camps. But I would usually recommend attending camps that include coaches who have shown sincere interest already. Doing so will increase the odds of a junior golfer improving his or her position as a recruit.
Now, one more point. Although college golf camps offer valuable experiences for junior golfers, there isn’t a need to overdo it. Remember that building a resume of quality competitive results will be very important for all recruits as they attempt to strengthen their candidacy. Tournament results are not everything, but they are one of the most important criteria coaches use in evaluating players.
College golf camps can certainly support the development and recruiting process of many junior golfers. By considering the views I’ve shared, you’ll be better equipped to use camps to your advantage in the pursuit of college golf.
To your success,nicky
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