As a current college coach and a former professional and collegiate player, I have an incredible passion in helping junior players make the best choice in picking a college program. With the support of Junior Golf USA, I will share my experiences and insights about the college process. And hopefully, help junior golfers and their families to better understand and navigate this process. I hope these articles provide answers in what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to make the best choice for you. I hope you enjoy the information, find it helpful, and encourage you to reach out to email@example.com with questions or topics you want covered.
The “Why” of the Search Process for the college bound junior golfer
These next several years of your life will be one of the most important periods of your junior career and making the decision where to go to college will impact your life forever. You have to ask yourself why do you want to go to school? Is it because you want to play professional golf? Is it because you love golf? Is it because you want to get a great academic career out of it and become a successful business professional? Is it because of your parents? Starting with the why, will help you understand what you want in a school. Digging deeper in why you truly want to go to school will narrow the options and will help to make the first step more controllable.
How important is the coach?
One of the biggest factors, if not the biggest is the coach of the team you are going to play for. To put an example of how big and impactful a coach can be to your college career consider this: In high school you might see your swing coach once a week or every other week. That means you will see them between 26 to 52 times a year. You will spend more time with your college coach the first semester than with your swing coach the whole year. Your college coach will become part of your family, your support team and maybe your mentor during your college career and he/she will shape your life and golf career in a huge way and that is why I believe it is key to understand how the coach operates, how they work with their players, and how they will work with you.
It is very important during the recruitment process to be transparent and really understand details, such as:
– How do the coaches handle qualifying and how do they pick the travel team?
– How will the coaching staff interact with my swing coach?
– How are the coaches with the team? Are they fair?
– What scores usually travel to tournaments?
– How much emphasis do the coaches pay to workouts?
– How many kids from the program have transferred and why?
What do coaches look for when they are out recruiting?
In 2021, coaches rarely are going to watch the full field at a tournament. If they are recruiting at a tournament, it is usually because they have a player or players in mind that they are going to watch. Shortly before June 15th (end of the dead period), the coaches developed a list of about 8 to 12 players they want to target during the recruiting period.
By the time the coach is watching you, they often have a good idea of your scores, have seen your swing, and understand your academics. So then, what are they looking for if they already know my scores and have seen my swing?
– One of the biggest factors is speed, baseline for boys is around 110 mph and for girls is around 95. If you can be faster than these numbers and have great distance, you will stand out.
– The quality and consistency of your ball flight. As a college coach, if I could spray the club face of every player in the field, I would take whoever has the most accurate ball strike with only one mark in the center of the club face after hitting plenty of balls. It is rare, but this would be great way to tell me that the player is absolutely and incredibly consistent, it does not matter how their swing looks, it works and is effective.
– Short game is a big factor as well. A player really stands out when they can control trajectory and spin in their short game. All players are going to have good and bad days, but the short game always has to be there and this is a huge difference maker when it comes to good and great.
– Attitude: Coaches really see your body language and how you handle yourself on the golf course, in a tournament setting. We don’t want to just see good golf, we want to see you struggle and see how you handle yourself and bounce back. It exhibits your mental toughness, what type of teammate you will be and if you are coachable. These characteristics are key in being recruited by the top schools in the country.
– Interaction with your family: Maybe this one is overlooked and not considered as much, but it is actually very important. How do players treat their parents and how they talk to them is important because that is how they are going to treat their coach.
– Warm-up routine and practice after the round. This shows a lot in how prepared the player is, their discipline, if they can be coachable, and also the kind of player they are.
Coaches see more than you actually realize and that is why I want to provide you with some great advice to think about when you are being recruited. Being recruited is way more than just shooting good scores. Being coachable, positive body language, strong short game skills, quality and consistent ball flight, great speed, interaction with family and peers, and how you prepare yourselves to play a tournament round is just as important as shooting good scores and having a good looking swing.