By Michael Burcin, Under Par Consulting
There is not one player or family who is going through the collegiate golf recruiting process who does not ask the question of….Will I play my freshman year? This is an important question to consider for numerous reasons and one that very much dictates schools that show interest in a player. Coaches are not going to recruit numerous players who have very little chance of being contributors as freshman. Assuming we are targeting the correct schools, lets look at some of the characteristics of a first year collegiate golfer who is a lineup regular or in the mix on a weekly basis.
They are not just van drivers….One large change from HS to collegiate golf is the importance that coaches and schools place on the importance of success and improvement. Coaches are brought to programs to run successful teams and graduate students that are contributors to society and hopefully their alma maters. With this being said, college coaches will coach you. Most of them have expansive backgrounds in player development, instruction, or a long history of being involved with very effective former players and programs. They will demand a lot of their players, expect consistent effort, and want their teams to be constantly finding new ways to improve and push their games forward. They will ask you to do things you are not comfortable with and often challenge you that your current effort or result is not good enough at that respective level. Being challenged and uncommon table is healthy and leads to personal growth.
How is your course management…..A collegiate golf course setup can be up to 600 yards longer, greens faster and firmer, pins tucked, while perfect weather and college golf are not often found together. I equate the changes from junior to college golf being similar to a high school basketball player moving onto the college level and the court is twenty feet longer, basket is two feet higher, and your playing with a type of ball you’ve not had the chance to dribble with in the past. Collegiate golf is a completely different game and you have to be open minded to knowing that how you navigated around a junior golf course setup will normally not be effective in college. Sure you will still be able to hit driver often, but the reckless approach knowing the flag will be in the middle and the greens are not too fast attitude, will cost you dearly.
Am I Prepared…..I often saw freshman having plenty of physical talent to succeed in college, they had a good run of solid junior golf, but they did not come ready to play for fall semester. Hitting the pool, traveling through Europe, or having one last full summer with your friends will not equal being in the lineup automatically. You have to come ready and those who struggle for those coveted lineup spots in the fall are really behind the curve come spring when championships are won and coaches rely on their most trusted players and evidence of events past and who can get it done. When considering your chances for immediate success and impact on your new college roster, ask yourself, am I doing everything to give myself the best chances for success?