Insights from The Hub’s College Golf Seminar
Let’s set the scene.
Five top college golf coaches descend on the Dallas metroplex. And to put it mildly, the list is formidable. An Ivy League coach. A top D-I coach whose playing resume boasts multiple major championships. A coach from the top-ranked NAIA program in the nation. A three-time NJCAA national championship winner. Three top college players including a three-time Academic All-American.
Welcome to the Junior Golf Hub College Golf Seminar in conjunction with the North Texas PGA and sponsored by Golf Academy of America – Dallas.
What a session! A day filled with learning and of course some fun (anyone want to play Texas College Golf Trivia?)
Couldn’t make it? We got you covered.
Let’s dive into the key takeaways from our illustrious coach panel:
1. Academics, Academics, Academics
Academics matter (big time). For multiple panelists, academics are frankly a gating item. Want to play for Alex Kirk at Dartmouth? Put simply you must have the grades and scores. Want to play for Butch Edge at UT – Dallas? Same thing. And students with strong academics may receive academic scholarships that can ease the burden on athletic scholarships. Lastly, when you are on the team, you must maintain a minimum GPA to be eligible and in many cases to retain your academic scholarship. Get ready to hit the books!
2. Good old-fashioned character matters
Our coach panel repeatedly stressed the importance of character. Vince Clark from McLennan Community College said he learns more from your bad playing days than the good. How did you respond to the adversity? Could you maintain your positive attitude? Hot heads or club throwers are kryptonite to our coach panel. Show coaches you know how to handle adversity and remember, character is king.
3. Nothing replaces face to face
Nothing replaces face to face communication with a prospect. Way more can be learned from face to face communication than an e-mail exchange. Meeting in person on an unofficial or official visit is key. Here at The Hub, we recommend you let the coach know you are in town when you travel for tournaments. Drop in and tell them what you’re all about!
4. Be Realistic
Be realistic when reaching out to coaches. Too many people don’t meet the coach’s target scoring average or academic profile when they reach out. Remember the competition for golf team slots is fierce. A top D-I program coach indicated that he is booked for roster spots through 2020. Realism is good for everyone. Here at The Hub we have a simple rule: by the time you get to junior or senior year, your tournament scoring average (including all scores over the past year) should be comparable to or below the #3 – #5 players on the college team. The rule is not infallible (if the team has a terrific year or disastrous year for example), but it gives you a useful gauge. Take note!
5. Be Persistent
Assuming you are a fit for the program, our coach panel recommended that you be persistent in reaching out to them. Don’t send one e-mail and then give up. Coaches are inundated with so many e-mails, it’s difficult to keep track of them all and often the coach is out of the office at a tournament (these guys work hard). Keep following up to land on the coach’s radar screen.
Want some more advice? Here are the takeaways from our panel of current college players:
Student-athlete life is hard but rewarding
College golf is immensely rewarding but it does come at a cost. Early morning workouts, a robust practice schedule, frequent tournament travel, and missed classes make juggling schoolwork and golf a challenge. Our panel stressed the importance of developing personal relationships with your professors, including letting them know when you will be out of town and setting a plan for any missed work or assignments. Understand the time commitment to play for your program of choice.
Right chemistry is key
Work to find the right chemistry between both you, the coach and the players on the team. Spend a significant amount of time with current team members and the coach during your visit. Get to know them on a personal level. Remember that humans are social beings and happiest when we develop close relationships with those around us. Don’t forget the human element when evaluating prospective colleges.
Lastly, we had some fun playing Texas College Golf Trivia.
Without googling the answers (cheating!), how many of these questions can you answer?
1. What college did Kathy Whitworth, winner of 88 LPGA titles, attend?
2. What year did Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw share medalist honors at the NCAA D-I championship?
3. Who are the only two players to have ever won the U.S. Junior Amateur twice?
4. What famous broadcaster played college golf with Fred Couples at the University of Houston?
Got all four? It’s an eagle! Three is a birdie. Two a par. One a bogey.
What an event. It will be tough to top this next year, but we sure will try!