Going to College Archive

Is College Golf an Individual Sport?

Team Chemistry Plays a Key Role at the Collegiate Level

During my 14 years as a college golf coach, I came to the realization that team chemistry played a key role in my team’s level of success each season. Generally, the better the players got along with one another, the better they performed as a team. It was important for me to recruit and assemble a group of student-athletes who had mutual respect for each other and had similar interests and lifestyles outside of golf. This was probably the toughest part of recruiting. The most successful teams I coached seemed to fit this model perfectly.

As a prospective student-athlete and someone who aspires to identify golf programs that are good fits, you need to research who is currently on a team’s roster as well as who the coach has signed and who he/she may be recruiting. Make sure you know the players that will someday become your college teammates. Although golf in general is an individual sport, college golf requires individual players to play and practice together as a team if they expect to win NCAA Championships.

This is particularly tough given the fact that only five players on a team get the opportunity to travel to and participate in each tournament and these five players are generally determined through a series of qualifying rounds on the team’s home courses and an occasional coach’s pick. Players have to compete against their teammates (and possibly their roommates and best friends) in order to make the traveling team. This qualifying system can weaken a team’s chemistry especially in cases where the team is extremely large.

Players have to understand their role on a team. In most cases, Division I golf coaches will invest the majority of their limited scholarship money in their top 5 or 6 players. As a result, these players are expected to make the traveling team as often as possible. All else being equal, coaches will reserve a pick or two to ensure these highly-recruited players make the traveling squad. Once again, team chemistry will be challenged if the majority of the players (on teams with more than 10 players on their roster) are outwardly disappointed because they are not getting enough playing time. Some of the younger players are expected to work hard, gain experience, and support the upperclassmen in a non-playing role. These younger players may end up “redshirting” for a year if it benefits the team long term. Every player on the team has to accept and follow the team’s goals for the season. To this point, college golf is a team sport.

The key issue here is to make sure you are targeting schools where you know and respect the other players already on the team as well as those who are planning to join the team during your college career. Team chemistry matters significantly and can be the difference in whether or not you have a positive college experience. Do your homework, pay attention to who has signed in the last several signing periods, and always think about what you want out of a teammate in college.

Good luck in your search!

Coach Brooks
Red Numbers Golf®

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