By Brendan Ryan

A week into signing, I wanted to take a look at the numbers behind the 2021 signing class and share some of my thoughts:

Boys and girls signees are down a third from last year at this time
There are currently about 60 – 2021 girls with negative scoring differentials who have not signed an NLI
There are currently about 150 – 2021 boys with negative scoring differentials who have not signed an NLI
Of the boys that signed with a ranking on JGS 124 out of 160 had negative scoring differentials
Of the girls that signed with a signing on JGS 61 out of 108 had negative scoring differentials
Typically internationals make up about 20% of players, this year that number is up about 10%
There are approximately 125 boys in the transfer portal including a former US Junior Medalist and someone who just played Augusta
There are approximately 70 girls in the transfer portal

Coaches Matter

While much attention has been given to the lack of play in the fall, returning players, COVID and the transfer portal; for me the most interesting story line is which coaches are using this time to transform their programs with recruiting. While there are several examples, two I would like to highlight are the dynamic duo of Ryan Jamison at Florida Atlantic University and Andrew Danna at Florida Gulf Coast; as well as Andrew Larkin at Santa Clara. On the women’s side, for the second straight year John O’Connor of Quinnipiac has signed a class featuring girls with negative scoring differentials. Likewise Lipscomb, Houston Baptist and UC-Riverside picked up impressive players with strong records highlighted by Riversides signing of Tiffany Le (-4.8). With strong work ethics and new administrations behind them they have feasted on the abundance of transfers and available players.

This is not only happening at the D1 level. Over the past year JP Kircher at Piedmont has taken a program that has in the past struggled to field a team and moved them to #1 in Golfstat Cup rankings with a team average of 294. Likewise, Steven Paine at Point University led his team to the #1 spot in the NAIA by having his top 4 players average 71.24. Pretty impressive and very high caliber golf in a league that too many golfers seem to ignore.

This is a time when great coaches are going to shine; they are going to use the challenging situation to their advantage and transform their rosters. Over the next 18 months, I expect to see big jumps from a number of programs (not only in the NCAA’S) who are lead by bright coaches who have been diligent over the last 6 months to find the right players.

The World is Flat

Over the past 4 years I have reported clear benchmarks for playing college golf. For example, a negative scoring differential has been strongly related to playing major conference golf, while a scoring differential of 0.5 has been a benchmark for playing Division 1. Starting today, this is no longer true! The fact is now, the best coaches at all levels will be able to attract better players, leveling the playing field and eviscerating the stigma of D1 dominance.

In this new world, junior golfers without negative scoring differentials need to open their mind to additional possibilities. This means spending time to look past the logo and brand of a school, to see what a school at any level has to offer academically and athletically; considering things like facilities, schedule and coaching.