There is a saying I have heard Bruce Lee quote, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” attributed to Buddha Guatama.
This is certainly true for many of the parents, players and coaches that are on the college golf journey. I say this because in many ways it is true and let me explain. Over my 25 plus years of experience working with hundreds of families and players who have gone on to play college golf and other sports, the experience with these families is very similar. Often, I have coached or begun coaching the junior players when they are younger (before high school), however it is with their goal in mind of playing at top Division I golf programs. As you may be aware, this is hard. Only about 1% of the top junior golfers around the world can do this and now it has even tougher due to the rules changing with the transfer portal, which allow athletes to transfer almost at any time and compete with another program right away, which in turn makes it easier for a coach or program to bring players over from another team and start for his or her program right away. This cuts out having to recruit a high school player that has not competed in a college event. Truly a long shot for graduating seniors, but like with most things, success leaves clues.
For starters, those that have “made it” to their schools of choice do so by first setting the goal early in their journey. If there is something I have heard over and over from parents is that they wish they had listened earlier to us, or we should have started earlier on learning what was important. You see, starting early with understanding the landscape of playing Division I college golf is key. Too often, when a junior player matriculates into their junior year of high school, every parent comes out the woodwork and the fear of missing out takes hold of them, which makes junior year the hurdle of all hurdles. However, if they listened to or followed the Junior Golf Hub.com checklist starting as a freshman, it would be a lot less stressful on the junior golfer and parents. Understanding that the junior year is important from a grade perspective but waiting until then to start planning for your college golf career is nearly too late. Recently, we had a family tell us now that their child, a junior in high school, after 5 years of development in our academy program, having sat through multiple years of us showing and explaining how, what, and when to do things regarding his development, tournaments and the college process, has turned into a solid aspiring college recruited player, said they learned more from another coach in 5 minutes about what tournaments to play in than they did in the 5 years with us at the academy. Ouch, that hurts but this is a good example of when the student (parents) in this case are ready to listen, the teacher will appear. I will say, this is not the parents’ fault, it is what our culture of the school system has created. Our school system culture tells the parents, hey, don’t worry about anything regarding college until junior year in high school. This may be the case if you are not planning on playing a sport in college. If you aspire to play golf in the power 5 conferences or most in divisions these days, you are competing with more junior athletes around the world than ever before. IT IS COMPETITIVE!! ONLY 1% OF ALL JUNIOR GOLFERS WILL HAVE THE CHANCE TO TEE IT UP IN COLLEGE!
Back to my 25 years of learning about this process and understanding the ever-changing landscape of junior and college golf. Here are 6 things you need to know asap, they are all from interviews or conversations with over 25 of the Top ranked schools in the country from DI to DIII and NAIA:
- Tournament scores: if you do not have a competitive scoring average below 74 in junior golf, high school, your chances of playing Division I golf is nearly 0.
- Competency or skills in all areas of the game: a great way to know if you are building your skills for the highest levels of the game is to get a Player Development Assessment Index (PDI) by a certified coach near you. If there is not one near you, reach out to The Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield, CT.
- Speed: a player that can hit the ball far, and show competency with their skills, even though their scores may not be the lowest, coaches feel they can help them manage the game to compete at the college level.
- You need to be competitive: regardless of the golf challenge or tournaments, do you love to compete, can you win! If you are not winning, they look for players who do NOT give up after a bad round, WD or have “injury” when it seems like they are not going to win or place high enough for ranking points.
- School is important: get good grades in high school, they do not want to worry about you being overwhelmed by school challenges. The better the student-athlete the easier it is for them to go to bat for you academically. If you are an excellent golfer with a PDI higher than 80, and your grades are good, a college coach can help with admissions.
- YOU set the standards when and where you go to college: it may be that your best opportunity for your best fit for a college program is after a gap year or PG year. College is a choice, you choose to go to school, do not allow the “recruiting” process to dictate what you want, that is up to you. Here is the real secret, it is hard, You the student-athlete will have to earn it, it takes lots of the right work to achieve this goal.
If you want to learn more, log into the JuniorGolfHub.com, check out the Essentials Guide, it can help you find the answers you are looking for. Download the college checklists, follow those simple steps with good golf scores and you can be a lock for a great college program.
Get after it and best of luck, we all need that too!
Enjoy Your Journey!