Our college golf advisory team recently answered questions submitted to the AJGA about the current state of college golf recruiting and what prospective student athletes can do to remain proactive. Below is a summary of the most asked questions and the answers they provided.
What does it take to be able to play Division I golf for males and females?
With 294 Men’s and 261 Women’s teams, there are many academic and athletic levels within Division I College Golf. It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and persistence to reach and then compete at this level. It takes a love of competition! College players spend their season competing within their team to make the travel squad to go to the tournaments. If you don’t love competing, that may be hard. Good grades and tournament scores are certainly two of the biggest keys in realizing the goal of playing college golf. A good research trick is to cross-reference lists of rankings with where those players committed to play in college. This will give you a sense of the ranges in which coaches recruit.
What are three key qualities that coaches are looking for?
Coaches are looking at how you compete and how you treat fellow competitors, officials and volunteers at tournaments. They also look for how you treat yourself following a poor shot. They may ask your coaches and teachers about you.
Grades matter to coaches! With so much time spent away from campus, they need to know that you can handle the rigor of schoolwork and time management.
Scores and Fundamentals
There is no doubt that a key component to recruiting is how you play and the type of game you display. Coaches may use different metrics when identifying the type of talent they want on their roster, but it is good to have a scoring average in line with their roster.
What’s the best way to contact them and when should you start?
It is never too early to contact a coach! Even players in eighth or ninth grade can send coaches results, swing videos and tournament schedules by email. Most coaches prefer to communicate by email and then by phone once allowed by NCAA rule (after June 15 of your sophomore year for Division I). Stay consistent with your outreach to them and be prompt in your responses.
What are some basic tips for emailing coaches when reaching out?
Staying proactive is a huge key in communication with coaches. While you may not always get a response, keeping them updated on grades, tournament results and upcoming events on a regular basis is wise. Coaches are also typically interested in swing videos, strength and conditioning updates, contact information, launch monitor data and stats from tournament play.
What is the best way to gain exposure to college coaches during the dead period?
Staying proactive with your communication with them and continue to play in tournaments! Use social media to your advantage!
What are coaches allowed to do and not allowed to do during the dead period?
If you are a junior or senior and talking with Division I Coaches, coaches CAN talk to you on the phone, email, text and setup Zoom, FaceTime or Skype calls. They CANNOT have any in-person contact with you, meaning they cannot come watch you play or meet you on their campus.
Division II and Division III have lifted their dead periods, but many will have school-based restrictions. It would be best to check with each school on what they are allowed to do.
What are players allowed to do and not allowed to do during the dead period?
Players and families are not allowed to meet in person with Division I coaches. They may still visit campuses or do online tours. Players are allowed to communicate with coaches.
Any specific helpful tips for players during the dead period?
Be patient! This is a unique time and coaches are learning how to deal with their restrictions. Expand your list! With current college players being granted an extra year of eligibility, there will be less roster spots. As such, you may need to consider more schools. Be direct in asking questions about where you stand with coaches and ask about their expected timeline.
Given that overseas travel this year is difficult due to COVID-19, how would juniors be able to get some exposure to colleges in the states?
This is certainly a difficult time for international players. Our advice to you would be the same regarding communicating with coaches. Many schools are offering expanded online and virtual tours. Taking advantage of these offerings would be a good way to see what each school offers. You can also identify regions of the U.S. you are interested in and expand your list from there. If getting here and enrolling on-time is a priority, maybe alternative routes would make sense (i.e. Junior Colleges, NAIA etc.). Ask direct questions to coaches about where they stand in their recruiting process. You might also consider taking a gap year.
How are National and World Rankings used during the recruiting process?
Rankings are a good barometer for coaches to begin their recruiting search. Through the years, coaches may have certain ‘bands’ that they feel work for their program, meaning they can find success with players within certain ranking parameters. Additionally, many coaches like to see trend reports on how players develop through the years. Ultimately, rankings are only a piece of the puzzle and offer a snapshot of a player's development.
What can players expect in the upcoming months?
Players can expect much of the same over the next few months. Many coaches are waiting until the dead period is lifted to make final decisions on players in the classes of 2021 and 2022. If you have not committed yet, continue to stay the course and be proactive with communicating with coaches and expanding your list.
What are coaches saying as it relates to uncommitted 2021 golfers across all NCAA divisions?
It is very tough for families and for coaches as it relates to 2021 recruiting. Certainly, much of the 2021 recruiting cycle was finished before COVID-19 broke out in March. For the balance of the class, coaches are trying to navigate recruiting without a summer and fall of being able to watch players compete or visit with them face-to-face; two pillars of the recruiting process. They are also learning which players have chosen to use their extra year of eligibility that was granted to them by the NCAA. This is creating less roster spots which makes it much harder for unsigned 2021 players.
Many coaches think this will extend the recruiting cycle father into the winter and spring. Others may wait and recruit more players in the class of 2022. Talking to specific coaches and asking them direct questions about where you stand and what their timeline is would help in identifying schools that you should continue to communicate with.
Keep in mind NCAA bylaws are subject to change and at all times, student-athletes and their parents are encouraged to consult the NCAA, NCAA eligibility center and the USGA for all recruiting and amateurism rules questions. You can also visit NJCAA and NAIA websites for more information.