Get Started by Asking the Right Questions BY MATT THURMOND

SEPT19-coach1-matt-thurmondMatt Thurmond, a former Golfweek Coach of the Year, is in his fourth season as the Head Men’s Golf Coach for Arizona State University. He played collegiately at Brigham Young

I’ve hosted hundreds of recruits and their families on unofficial visits. I love these opportunities to get to know them and to share information about our program. The value of the time for both parties is best determined by the questions asked and answered. With great questions, one can learn so much in a short period of time and determine the most important thing in recruiting – whether or not it is the right fit.

Knowing what I now know from nearly 25 years in college golf, these are some of the questions (and the why’s) I might ask if I were being recruited today: Most of the current players and possibly the assistant coach won’t be here when I get here.

How do you determine the people you bring into this program?
(The people you are with will make or break your experience. You’ll probably become like them in many ways. So it’s important to know how the coach evaluates recruits.)

What are the reasons I’ll still love it here even if I’m struggling with golf?
(Many choose a school purely for golf and scholarship reasons, then arrive and realize there is so much more to the entire experience.)

What are a few of the defining elements of your team culture?
(If a coach doesn’t have good answers for this, he/she probably isn’t focusing enough on the entire experience for the players.)

What do you see in me that makes you think I might be a good fit here?
(Make them specifi cally share their thoughts about you and your potential. You want a coach who believes in you and sees some of your unique opportunities to contribute. If they really like
and respect you, they will coach you better.)

Where do you currently have me rated, relative to the other recruits in my class?
(Find out if they are truly interested in you. Be ready to accept that they may not be.)

What do you see as the next steps in my progress as a person and golfer, and how would you go about helping me accomplish them?
(Is the coach really interested in you and beginning to see himself/herself as your coach?)

How would you describe your coaching style and what kinds of golfers do you work best with?
(Coaches have many diverse styles that connect differently with each player. Make sure you feel that your styles match up.)

If you are going to take the time and money to do unofficial visits, make the most of the opportunity and learn as much as possible about those things that will really matter
to your overall experience and daily life within the team.
Good luck!


Finding a Spot to Actually “Play” BY TERRANCE STEWART

SEPT19-coach2-terrance-stewartI have had the privilege of being an NCAA head golf coach for 22 years – 17 seasons in Division I and five in Division II – for both men and women. It was also my wonderful experience to play for four years at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Almost every junior golfer has the dream of “playing” in college, not sitting the bench. I’ve never heard the phrase, “I want to ride the bench in college.” So, during your recruiting, it is very important to find a team that really wants you and offers the opportunity for you to be in the top six to seven players when you first walk onto campus. You need to be able to play through your mistakes and avoid being buried in the bottom third of the roster. Here are the steps you need to take to accomplish the goal of truly “playing” collegiate golf:

1. Be honest about what you really shoot when you are playing “average” in tournament competition. You need to add 1 to 3 shots onto your scores because college golf is set up to be much harder than junior golf.

2. How many seniors are starting at the university you’re considering? How many spots are really going to open up in your freshman/sophomore year? Do the math and make sure it’s
in your favor.

3. Find out how many extra individuals the school takes to most events? You improve your game the most by playing actual tournament rounds. At UNCG, we take 1 to 3 extra players to 75 percent of our tournaments.

My last bit of advice is for young golfers to go watch some college tournaments and learn what competition at the collegiate level is all about. There is a spot for almost everyone to play in college. You can compete at many levels, including NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA and Junior College. If you are honest about your game and do your research, you will find the perfect spot to play! Good luck and I’ll see you at a college tournament very soon…“playing.”