College Planning, Placement and Testing Requirements

As students reach the conclusion of their high school years, it is only natural to begin contemplating what they will do with their lives after they walk away from the podium with their graduation diploma. For many, the path they decide upon involves going to a four-year college with the intention of obtaining a bachelor’s degree, and possibly advancing from there to grad school.

For student golfers, matters tend to be a little more complicated. If they intend to continue golfing after leaving high school, then they need to figure out how to balance their athletic interests with their academic pursuits.

To a large extent, teen golfers preparing for college face the same problems and challenges that their non-athletic peers do—like studying for entrance exams—but there are additional considerations that must be contended with as well. With that in mind, let us explore some of these considerations, such as selecting the right school and ensuring that one’s academic record is satisfactory for admissions purposes.

Which School Is Best?

As we have mentioned, student-athletes share many of the same concerns that all college-bound teens do, and for that reason the process of picking the “right” school is substantially similar. Students need to ask themselves some key questions:

  • Where would they prefer to study? Should they stay in their home state, or are they willing to travel across country to pursue the right opportunity?
  • What would they prefer to study? Not everyone will be able to play golf professionally. Student-athletes need to think about the kind of degree they will be getting after they complete their undergraduate education.
  • What kind of campus environment is best? Some students love the excitement of being part of a large student body, with all the opportunities for socializing that those kinds of schools can provide. Others, though, feel lost in a crowd.
  • What kind of golf program does the school have? Naturally, this is a consideration particularly relevant to student golfers. In 2015, there were 1320 schools across the nation with varsity-level golf programs.1 The availability of a good golf program can be the deciding factor in selecting a school, especially if all other factors are roughly equal. This is what we will focus on now.

Ball going in

Types of College Golf Programs

The crown jewel of collegiate golf is the NCAA Division I. This represents the highest level of athletics for college and university students—not just for golf, but for all sports, from basketball to water polo. Division I schools have the best-funded, most prestigious athletic programs. To qualify for inclusion in this division, a college generally must have at least seven sports programs for men and seven for women. For obvious reasons, Division I tends to be the first choice for student athletes, though, as we will see, it is not for everyone.

In 2015, there were 320 Division I schools with varsity-level golf programs. Combined, these 320 schools maintained 301 men’s and 263 women’s golf teams. 3003 male and 2203 female golfers competed at this level.

Golf Academy Examination Fees

Below this level is the NCAA Division II. On average, Division II schools can be characterized by smaller enrollment and more modestly funded athletic programs. You will find a mix of relatively small public schools and private institutions here.

In 2015, there were 255 Division II schools that offered a combined total of 237 men’s and 191 women’s golf programs. In this division there were 2446 male and 1493 female golfers.

The NCAA Division III provides another option for college golfers. This division, unlike the other two, cannot by law offer athletic scholarships. However, many student-athletes have found good opportunities here to advance their athletic and scholastic interests.

In 2015, there were 312 Division III schools with golf programs. 293 men’s and 196 women’s golf teams were active at this level, with 3154 male and 1484 female golfers.

It is important to understand that the three NCAA divisions do not constitute all available opportunities to play golf at the college level. A significant number of student-athlete golfers compete in schools that are not governed by the NCAA; these institutions include small four-year colleges and two-year junior (or “community”) colleges. In fact, some golfers achieve success at an NCAA school after completing a two-year program at a junior college. It is an opportunity that many student-athletes unwisely overlook.

Women Swinging Golf Club


It is certainly no big secret that college has become expensive in recent years, and tuition will only be heading further north for the foreseeable future. Considering that unfortunate trend, many student-athletes understandably try to cut down these expenses by winning a scholarship of some kind. Luckily, student golfers have a number of scholarship opportunities available to them; let us take a look at these:

NCAA Scholarships: Schools in NCAA Divisions I & II are permitted to offer a certain number of golf scholarships during each academic year. (As mentioned previously, NCAA Division III schools cannot provide athletic scholarships.) Under NCAA rules, golf is considered an equivalency sport for scholarship purposes.

What does this mean? Schools are permitted to divide up their scholarship funds however they see fit, so long as they provide no more than the equivalent of the maximum number. For example, if there are four scholarships available, the school can elect to hand out four full scholarships or eight partial scholarships, or establish another arrangement that adds up to the equivalent of four full scholarships.

In 2015, Division I schools were allowed to provide 4.5 men’s golf scholarships and 6.0 women’s golf scholarships. Division II schools were allowed 3.6 men’s scholarships and 5.4 women’s scholarships.

Bear in mind that students must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center in order to qualify for any of these NCAA scholarships.

NAIA Scholarships: Students who cannot grab one of the above scholarships can still play for an NCAA school under a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) scholarship. To qualify for one of these, students must (1) score at least 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT, as well as (2) accumulate a 2.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) OR graduate high school in the top half of their class.

NJCAA Scholarships: We have mentioned that junior college is a doable route for student-athlete golfers. If you are still not convinced, you may be interested to hear that even junior college golfers can qualify for full or partial scholarships. These are awarded by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), which has 525 member colleges across the nation.

There are a number of other scholarship opportunities that student-athletes might wish to look into, including some offered by the LPGA and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).

Learning Never Stops

Tips on Finding the Right Program

Whether you are hoping to land a generous scholarship or simply want to get into the best school possible, you should put your best foot forward both academically and athletically. It is not all about golf—a high GPA and strong ACT/SAT scores will maximize your opportunities. You should begin preparing for college by your junior year of high school.

You should attempt to reach out to coaches at colleges where you would prefer to attend. It is important to note that NCAA rules place restrictions on coaches’ ability to contact high school prospects. They are not allowed to call you before July 1 of your senior year. This means you need to take the initiative. NCAA coaches are permitted to meet with you informally at their campus, so you should attempt to arrange a visit with them to ensure that they are aware of you and what you can offer the program.

It also gives you an opportunity to see whether your personalities mesh well. You can also send them your resume—email seems to be the preferred method these days—and some video clips showing off your skills. The resume you send should include your golf achievements, including your tournament results and USGA Handicap Index.

Contacting a college coach should not be a one-time-only deal. You should keep sending them periodic emails to make sure that they stay up to date on your progress. Start doing this no later than your junior year, and continue staying in contact throughout your senior year.

The International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA) is one of the premier resources available for students hoping to improve their skills on the course and in the classroom. With alumni that have gone on to attend programs at Dartmouth, Texas A&M, Yale, Notre Dame, UCLA, and other schools, we have an undeniable track record in preparing our students for success.

Secure a future as a pro golfer by registering to the golf academy.


Golf Ball Landing On Grass

College Placement Timeline

One of the daunting tasks regarding the College Placement process is the timing of everything – knowing when to do what and making sure you are on the right track.

At IJGA, we begin working with our junior golfers in 9th grade. For 20 years, IJGA has placed nearly 100% of our students on college golf teams. With over $51 million golf scholarships awarded, we want to share with you the secret to our success.

Key considerations throughout the College Placement process:

  • Make sure the tournament schedule you set is the best for you to showcase your talents! Students should plan on playing events year round to stay in the best competitive state!
  • Research, Research, Research— Too often families have preconceived notions about DI vs. DII or small school versus large school – research will help you make sure you see all options available!
  • Answer every questionnaire you receive and every correspondence you receive from coaches, even if it is from a school you are not sure you are interested in.Communication is a must and you never know what school may work best for you!
  • Keep your GPA the highest you can — it may not seem important in 9thgrade, but a strong GPA shows college coaches you can balance academics and athletics! Just think of your competition. If you were competing with another student athlete for a scholarship, you both were equally great golfers, but your GPA was higher, it may just push you to the top!

We don’t want you to miss any key dates or tasks you should be completing.

Here is a sneak peak and some key thoughts for students and parents as they work through the college placement process:

9th Grade – Freshman

  • Understanding the importance of a solid GPA.
  • Research and start to understand what College Golf is all about. IJGA has a lot of resources here.

10th Grade – Sophomore

  • Begin SAT/ACT prep and/or TOEFL prep.
  • Make sure your classes are on track and following the NCAA guidelines. Check them out here.

Related Article: Check out where the IJGA Class of 2016 started their college golf careers.

11th Grade – Junior

Take the SAT/ACT and/or TOEFL

September 1st is a big date for the junior class, Coaches can begin to email prospective student athletes.

Register for the NCAA Eligibility Center

Visit college to get a feel for what is the best fit for you

12th Grade – Senior

July 1st coach can call prospective student athletes

Take official visits (5 allowed under NCAA regulations)

Evaluate your options and make a decision

Graduate! Congratulations, you are now a college bound student athlete!

Learn more about the IJGA College Placement Process.

The College Placement process, if managed correctly, should be a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun! It is a great feeling to accomplish your goal at the end and move onto College!

The Best Events to Get Noticed by College Coaches

Stand Out from the Crowd

It is a great time to be a junior golfer with a dream of playing in the college ranks. Scholarship opportunities have increased significantly over the last decade as more schools sponsor varsity level golf teams. This is a very good thing, but the competition for those spots has become tougher too. Getting noticed by college coaches is much like a tournament, so aspiring junior golfers must use the same kind of discipline and skill that helps them do well on the course to succeed.

One of the most important factors in making an impression is playing in quality tournaments to demonstrate your abilities both on and off the field. Fortunately, the number of tournaments for juniors has grown over this time period as well. This provides many more opportunities for young golfers to find the best mix of competitions to enable them to stand out from the crowd.

IJGA Top Finishers

What Are the Best Events to Play?

Success in elite junior golf tournaments will help capture the attention of college coaches, but all tournaments matter to those evaluating your potential. Build your competitive golf resume wisely – and steadily. Choose events in which you can perform well and seek to step up your competitive level only when you are ready. It is inevitable that you will have a poor first round score somewhere and feel like you should withdraw from the tournament. Resist this urge because many college golf coaches look for juniors who try to manage their rankings this way and frown on the practice. Make the best of the situation and post the best possible score you can. Coaches will be impressed by a player who demonstrates they can handle adversity and bounce back after a bad round.

Things to Look for when Choosing Tournaments to Play

An established tour that chooses collegiate or professional tour venues for their tournaments. A well run organization will also actively pursue and coordinate having coaches attend events. They will also be good at making information about players in the field easily available.

Quality of course and difficulty. The course should be set up like a collegiate event and pin placements should be like those in a collegiate competition. Boys 15-19 division should play 6,800-7,100 yards when possible and girls 15-19 should play around 6,100.

Quality of players in the field. This is perhaps the strongest indicator of the tournament’s quality. But, more than that, high level competition will bring out your best and help you grow and improve as a golfer. Coaches will also take note when you shine amongst other bright lights. They know better than anyone else that quality of performance is more than just the number you write on your card.

Highly ranked players may also want to participate in amateur or professional qualifiers to further demonstrate their abilities to college coaches. Events of this kind would include the U.S. Amateur Qualifier, the U.S. Open Local Qualifier and state amateur championships.

Know What Coaches Will Be There

Most college coaches will spend a full month every season on the road recruiting. In this time they will usually attend 10 to 12 junior tournaments as they are the ideal platform to evaluate young talent. Keep in mind, though, that coaches are at an event to look over current prospects, not necessarily find unknown players. Just hoping to be noticed randomly probably is not the best strategy. If you are thinking in terms of college recruitment, you should already have a proper golf resume and information kit assembled. Once you have this, do your homework and decide which schools you think fit well and will have available spots on the team. From there, find out which events these coaches will attend so that you can make the most of your showcase tournament performances. If you have not already made contact with a particular coach, send your resume and an informative but to-the-point letter expressing your interest and to let them know you will be competing at the event they will be attending. A thoughtful and well done presentation and letter of introduction will impress a coach; hopefully enough for them to take an interest in you.

Know What Coaches Will Be Looking For

Experienced coaches can evaluate your golf game in ten minutes. But success in competitive golf requires more than just a sweet swing. Coaches will be looking to determine both the quality of your athleticism and the quality of your character. As a coach follows prospects around the course he or she will evaluate how they present themselves, how they deal with distractions, how they react to bad breaks and how they interact with other players. A young athlete who shows resiliency when things become difficult and shows discipline and maturity will distinguish themselves in a very positive way. With this in mind, be sure to behave in a professional manner and always be courteous to everyone you encounter. Relax, play your best game and stay steady. Most importantly, be yourself and enjoy the experience.

At IJGA, we have many years of experience helping junior golfers navigate the difficult and competitive process of college recruitment. Whether you are thinking about signing your junior up for his or her first golf tournament or your child is already active on the circuit, know that tournaments provide experience and lasting memories. You can learn more about the benefits of juniors competing in tournaments, as well as tips on how to improve junior golf training by contacting the International Junior Golf Academy today at (843) 686-1500.

You may also request more information by clicking here. »

Quiz – What Schools are Right for Me?

For junior golfers, finding the best college to attend is one of the most important and difficult decisions he or she will ever face. It is a choice that will shape their future like no other. Their athletic, professional and social lives hinge on piecing together a puzzle of questions and options that ultimately lead to a successful and happy life. Such an important step deserves careful consideration, dedicated effort and enough time to create the ideal opportunity. This is a deeply personal choice as unique as the young athlete who must make it and is much more than the sum of a list of items on a piece of paper. But guidelines are a good place to begin the journey, so here are some questions that we hope will help make the process easier.

1) Am I a good fit for the team and can I contribute?

The most important aspect of a career in college athletics is what you can contribute to making the team a success. Your homework should include evaluating the current team both in regard to statistics and intangibles. Look at team size, the players and their scoring averages, rankings and recent accomplishments. Next, evaluate where you are now with your game and what it would take to be a starter on your chosen team. Would you eventually be one of the five team members who travel to compete in tournaments?

When the time comes that you feel you are ready to contact a coach about your interest in their team, you should be able to make a strong case for why you are a great choice for them relative to where the team is now and what they want to achieve. Show your knowledge of the program and of your own abilities. This sort of maturity and self-awareness is a strong selling point for experienced coaches. Be realistic and don’t oversell yourself but, by the same token, do be confident that you can deliver if given the opportunity. The bottom line here is simply go where you will get to play.

2) Will the school I choose give me a strong academic foundation for a professional career beyond competitive golf?

Golf serves two purposes for most juniors hoping to play in college. First is the goal of playing professionally after graduation and second as a vehicle to gaining a quality academic degree that will provide great options for life beyond the golf course. In light of this, the academic quality of the chosen school is of utmost importance.

What courses of study and programs does the school offer and how do they rank compared to similar institutions? Does the school have adequate academic resources available to help the student succeed? A college education is much like competitive golf in that it requires a great deal of discipline and self-determination on the part of the student. Coupled with the added requirements of athletic pursuits, day-to-day life can become difficult at times when trying to balance these challenges. So, if the student encounters difficulties in the classroom, how well does the athletic program coordinate with their academic peers to ensure the student gets the critical assistance they need to stay on track?

Other factors to consider include class size and overall size of the institution. The sheer scale of some schools can be overwhelming at first and some students perform much better in smaller classes with regular teacher interaction.

3) How much scholarship support can the school provide?

Most golf programs provide student-athletes with partial scholarships. This being the case, the total cost of getting through to graduation is a significant factor for the hopeful athlete. Families should carefully compare options available for your preferred schools to determine the best, most realistic options. A 40 percent scholarship to a smaller school might be more manageable financially than a 50 percent golf scholarship to a more expensive school. The latter might be a much better fit academically, though, and would thus be well worth the difference. The same is often true in reverse and the smaller school might reveal itself to be both more affordable and a superior academic performer in the student’s chosen field of study. Diligent research here can pay tremendous dividends in the long run.

4) Does this school have the methodology and resources to help me move on to the professional level?

If your primary goal is to strengthen your game enough to move into professional competition after graduation, have you found the program that can do the most to help you get there? Evaluate the team’s stature, their facilities, athletic budget and tournament schedule. Do they play in a competitive conference? How have alumni fared on the professional circuits? Does the coach’s teaching style and personality fit my learning style? Compatibility here can make or break your long term hopes. The right coach at the right time has given many successful professionals the boost they needed to realize their full potential.

Remember that professional golfers emerge from schools both big and small. Quality is independent of size in most cases.

5) Is the school’s location a bonus or a potential drawback?

This factor in the school equation is usually the least significant and the most subjective based on the student’s personal preferences.

Is the campus located in the heart of a large urban area or tucked away in rural spot miles from any major city? Are security issues a problem? Are there extremes in climate that might be too uncomfortable? How easily can the student travel to and from home?

Attending a school in a location that is new and unusual could be a great opportunity for personal growth or a severe hindrance if the student finds it too difficult. This is a great intangible and in person visits become important as you near a final decision. The school’s strengths in the other factors under consideration weigh heavily in comparison to location when finding the best balance. The right school might be across the street or across the continent.

As you study the details of each school that initially sparks your interest, you will come to realize that there is seldom one “perfect” choice for junior golfers hoping to play in the collegiate ranks. A bit of thoughtful research will help find the best combination of the factors that are most important to you and enable you to create your own unique “best fit” for your student-athlete.

The experience of attending an elite golf boarding school is much like a college program and will dramatically increase both the chance of playing college golf and the quality of schools available. 92% of IJGA graduates have gone on to play golf at some of the finest institutions in the world. Click Here >> to request more information about IJGA and our world-class junior golf instructional programs and college placement services. Your future begins here.

IJGA to Professional Golf: A Road Map

Dreams do Come True

But it takes a lot of work. A lot of work. The quest to play golf at the professional level is one that requires a lifetime of commitment, dedication and sacrifice that few can muster. It is a journey that is more complicated than it seems on the surface, and some simple insights into the process can serve as a valuable road map that may help outline the best route to a successful career. For most junior golfers, the best way to that goal is a measured, thoughtful approach that enables steady growth into full potential.

Junior Golf: Academies Pave the Way

Whether your junior golfer has been playing for many years or is relatively new to the game, attending an elite golf boarding school will dramatically increase both the chance of playing college golf and the quality of schools available. For those who pass through the halls of the International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA), the dream of a professional career becomes more real, and the road somewhat easier. Nearly all of our students receive scholarships to the top collegiate golf programs in the United States.

IJGA functions much like a college program with its elite academics, world-class golf training and relentless pursuit of excellence. Emphasizing both intensive athletic training and scholastic achievement through the nationally accredited Heritage Academy, IJGA has produced some of the finest young athletes playing golf today. IJGA’s Stewart Hagestad made golf history at this year’s Masters Tournament, becoming the only Mid-Amateur champion to ever make the cut and then went on to earn the coveted Silver Cup awarded the low amateur.

Receiving the proper type and quality of instruction at the high school level is critical to future success. Our innovative coaching staff provides programs of instruction tailored to each student’s abilities and needs as opposed to a “one size fits all” style. The team guides every student down a unique path that seeks to create a finely-tuned balance of physical skill, mental acuity and upstanding character.

IJGA prepares junior golfers for all of the aspects of competitive play as well as life beyond the golf course. By the time they graduate, our student-athletes are well prepared to compete in the college and professional ranks.

College Golf: Expressway to Success

Playing golf in college serves two purposes for the ambitious athlete. First is gaining invaluable training and high level tournament experience which is much like the professional ranks without having to go it alone. Those who forego college must manage the financial and strategic requirements of improving enough to qualify for a professional tour on their own. At this stage in the learning process, the costs and logistics can be daunting. In 2017, competing on a developmental tour such as the Web.Com Tour costs at a minimum $75,000 per year and the PGA Tour about $110,000. Add to this the need to organize travel, room and board, hiring a caddy and coaches, tour memberships and tournament qualifying and registrations, and it becomes a massive undertaking for the individual. In college, the young golfer gains quality instruction, physical and mental training, thousands of hours of practice and the afore mentioned competitive experience without the same burdens.

The second positive aspect of playing golf in college is gaining a quality academic degree. This will provide great options for life beyond the golf course and often also helps with the pursuit itself. Many who take the college route earn degrees that help manage the various aspects of making the way to the pro ranks.

Simply said, the college path to professional golf delivers excellent return on investment.

Making it on Tour: Avoiding Potholes

Making the move into the professional world is a learning process just like junior and collegiate golf and it requires patience and mental toughness.

The PGA’s qualifying school, or “Q-School,” used to be a direct path to the premier level, but, since 2013, has become an entryway to the tour which is the developmental arena for the PGA Tour. IJGA’s Richy Werenski earned his way onto the PGA Tour this way. The LPGA qualifying school is more like the traditional format featuring escalating qualifying tournaments. IJGA alumna Stephanie Meadow won her LPGA Tour card via the Final Qualifying Tournament. The vast majority of golfers will require significant seasoning to be ready for this step.

Obviously the ultimate goal is playing on the PGA or LPGA Tour, but most everyone entering the pro circuit will start in more humble venues. The first professional tier features various mini-tours that host events around the country that require entry fees and offer modest prize money. At this level only the most successful players will win enough to do more than cover their expenses, so the emphasis is on gaining experience and moving up to a higher tour.

As professional golf has continued to expand over the last thirty years, more of these developmental tours have emerged to accommodate the increased demand. Today there are more than twenty professional golf tours, each run by a professional golfer’s association or an independent tour organization which is responsible for arranging events, finding sponsors, and regulating tour play. Competitive play in these venues is tough and finding the right entry-level tour as a road to the top requires some study and self-evaluation as the choice will be different for everyone. Examining past statistics and results of the various tours along with other personal intangibles will help in finding the right place to begin.

Moving into the highest ranks takes years for most players who succeed, so managing the costs of navigating the lower tier tours is an important factor to consider. As mentioned before, the expenses are considerable and it takes time to reach a point where tournament earnings eclipse costs. Taking the college route pays dividends here as opportunities to earn a living outside of tournament golf support the drive to continue playing and moving up the ladder. With some success on the course may come opportunities for sponsorships to aid in defraying expenses and some players even sell shares in their future potential in the manner of a stock offering. Navigating the byways to a successful career in golf benefits from creative thinking.

The road to the world of professional golf is unique for every ambitious individual who aspires to achieve the dream. Careful consideration of the many options available will help make it easier and more attainable. Study the road map carefully to find the right path for you.

Click Here >> to request more information about IJGA and our world-class junior golf instructional programs and college placement services. Dreams begin here.

Why the Mental Game Is Important to College Coaches

Anyone hoping to play golf at the college level needs to know that coaches have a difficult job trying to determine the best young athletes to represent their team, school and community. College golf coaches must evaluate hundreds of potential recruits every year and any edge an athlete can demonstrate is a tremendous advantage. Experienced coaches can get the measure of your golf game in ten minutes. But success in competitive golf requires more than just a sweet swing and a long drive.

Often times athletes with superior physical gifts that should make them a star in their chosen sport somehow fail to realize their full promise. Whether their day-to-day performance never lives up to expectations or they crumble when the game is on the line, something significant is missing from the player’s repertoire.

What is the missing intangible?

Mental toughness.

Elite college programs know the difference between greatness and mediocrity is not that big, but it takes players with something special to bridge the gap.

Mental toughness is the natural or learned psychological ability to cope with the many demands of competitive sport and it is the edge that sets a gifted athlete apart from less committed opponents. A mentally tough junior golfer will remain determined, focused, confident and in control under pressure. They possess a resiliency that keeps them on track when things are going well and especially so when they are not. More than this, though, this mental quality helps young athletes manage the full spectrum of challenges they face on the course, in the classroom and in their personal lives.

When coaches take a closer look at a standout athlete, they will be seeking to determine both the level of a potential recruit’s athleticism and the quality of their character. As a coach follows prospects around the course he or she will evaluate how they present themselves, how they deal with distractions, how they react to bad breaks and how they interact with other players. A young athlete who displays resiliency when things become difficult and shows discipline and maturity will distinguish themselves in a very positive way. A junior golfer who plays with mental toughness will appear head and shoulders above others who might have similar or better stats on the course but lack that intangible, that fire. Coaches want complete packages that they can help grow and who will step up when the chips are down, not someone who needs to be coddled and protected.

Some mistake solid mental toughness and an unshakeable belief in oneself as arrogance. Quite the opposite is true. An elite athlete can set aside their ego and the desire to “prove” something to other people because that is a goal that they can never truly achieve. Real mental rigor is an overwhelmingly positive attribute that enhances a player’s performance but also honors the competition, without whom they would be nothing.

College coaches want well balanced athletes who strive to achieve personal goals and understand that self-improvement is a building process, that success does not come all at once. There will always be ups and downs, but surmounting the problems and feeding off of small victories strengthens morale. This routine of positive reinforcement builds upon itself and encourages one to attempt to repeat the behaviors that provided the positive feedback, creating a self-sustaining cycle of success. We are human beings and confidence is fragile. No one is perfect and no one has everything tightly in hand all the time. Developing mental toughness simply enables the young golfer to trust their own ability and determination and know that they will ultimately prevail.

Winning coaches know that more games are lost than are won, and they value players who give everything of themselves to all of the challenges in their lives. Winning coaches prize players who fight with everything they have.

At IJGA, we have many years of experience helping junior golfers navigate the difficult and competitive process of college recruitment. Click Here >> to request more information about our world-class junior golf training or contact us by phone at (843) 686-1500.

Why FUN Will Get You to College and Beyond

Why Fun? Why not scores or some type of performance based assessment? Why not beating your competition to a pulp? Why not mastering technical prowess and increasing your sport specific IQ? While some may call it ludacris, a major factor in deciding whether an activity will be sustained is the enjoyment of that activity. This takes many forms within different skill levels, but is uniform across sport and performance.

The cliche saying of “if you give a person a fish” (vs.) “if you teach a person to fish” is one that compares the idea of giving someone what they want versus teaching them to be able to earn what they would like. The real skill is being able to teach someone to be self-reliant, as this creates a sense of confidence, higher self-esteem, it mitigates helplessness, and helps create a growth mindset.

Let’s take, for example, a high school golfer with average scores and a goal to improve to play college golf. If this golfer is exclusively trained with on-range drills, then the transfer of that skill into competitive settings will be more challenged and less consistent. While the technique is a key to consistency, too much understanding can create friction points. Try thinking about it like this, in professional car racing there are mechanics and drivers. The mechanics are mainly responsible for tuning and building the car while the driver is mainly responsible for testing and pushing the performance of the car to its potential. They must both operate with communication and applied testing to prime themselves for each competition. In the case of our high school golfer, too much of a focus on technique without the understanding and confidence in how to perform with what they have can create frustration and be discouraging.

In life we refer to the ability of embracing challenge and adversity as resilience; The same stands true in golf. At IJGA, while we do spend time on the range crafting the swing, we also use applied exercises to help transfer those skills into on-course and applied competitive settings. However, what we have been able to understand in our time developing golfers, more clearly than anything else, is the process of incorporating FUN into training. In training, we create opportunities to learn how to enjoy the process of being challenged, which in turn serves to develop life skills, which transfer into the future of each student we work with.

While there are a bounty of ways to develop this into training, two suggestions we have are to focus on creativity and embrace challenge. When working to transfer skills from the range to the course, we will set up challenges that allow students to rapidly apply their skill but also activate their creativity.

One example of creativity would be to set up three stations, one where you are attempting to hit a bottle off of an alignment stick 10pts for a hit, one where you have to use one club and hit a set number of different shots (we recommend 7) to a target 2pts for each successful shot, and another where the task is to hit a specific target (30-50 yards) with the least number of shots possible (subtract number of shots taken from your total points). Once you have your score, students can then take a break before going through the cycle again and see if they can improve it.

In focusing on embracing challenge, we will have students play in competitive formats and where they are unable to complete a task we will make it a bit more difficult. Take, for instance, a player who continually will leave putts short, we will have that player play a match where each time they leave a putt short they will have to pull that putt back one club length from where it stops before they can take their next stroke. This element of creating conditions in training that are tougher than in competition allows students to enjoy competition more and become more comfortable in competitive environments.

These are just a few ideas of many, feel free to reach out and share your best ideas or ask us more about our training.

-Skylar Jewell,

IJGA Mental Conditioning Coach

Advice for Golf Parents

It is not easy being a ‘golf parent’ or a parent of a young athlete involved in any sport for that matter. I have seen many anxious parents biting their nails and looking on in horror when things are not going how they envisioned. Conversely, I have seen and experienced the utter joy and fulfillment that achievement in sport can bring to a parent and child.

Firstly, you must understand that this is a long journey. It takes many hours, days and years to become a competent golfer with sacrifices both mentally and financially along the way. There are good times as well as bad times. Golf is a fickle game to play and even more so to watch. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it sometimes!

It is easy to stand on the side lines and ask ‘why did they do that?!”. Believe me, they are often not trying to do that! Golf is a difficult game to play and a tough one to watch.

I believe that the sport should be used as a vehicle to create a lasting bond together. No matter what the outcome, that bond should never be broken or damaged. A game of golf is much less important than family love. The best players I know, all had a deep and unconditional love from their family which was not based on their scores.

Obviously, we all want every player to win every event they enter and to play to all of our expectations. The reality is that it will not always happen. Golf, and sport in general, is a teacher of how to deal with adversity and to create grit and resilience. These lessons can be taken far beyond the golf course and into life.

A parents’ job is to create the opportunities that allow the child to have their best shot at being their best. Their job is also to support and love them unconditionally.

From a practical perspective, I like the parents of our students at IJGA to be as involved as they would like to be in the development of their child. We often team up with and educate the parents who are heavily involved and make sure we are all on the same page and preaching the same message. We are very transparent in what we do and derive our changes and improvements from facts. These facts can then be shared with all in the team to ensure continuity for the child. Some parents do not want to get involved in the golf side, which is fine also.

I sat and though about my top twenty tips for golf parents. I have listed them below and hope they go some way to showing the joy, frustration and love that goes with being a golf parent!

20 Tips for Golf Parents:

  1. Provide unconditional love to your children
  2. Provide unconditional love to your children
  3. Don’t let score-outcome define them
  4. Don’t let them link their self-worth and self-esteem to their score
  5. Develop the whole person not just the golfer
  6. Don’t specialize too early
  7. Enjoy the bond that sport brings to a parent and child
  8. Let them be children!
  9. Understand it’s a simple game to watch and incredibly tough to play!
  10. Provide unconditional love to your children
  11. Understand it’s a journey. The best player at 14 is not usually the best at 17
  12. Look at developing skills and outcomes take care of themselves
  13. Look at developing mastery of skills
  14. Put emphasis on academic development
  15. Put emphasis on social development
  16. Understand that 1 in 1,000,000 makes it. Pros on TV are the 1% of the 1%
  17. Golf teaches great life lessons for business, school and sociability
  18. If you put too much pressure on them when you watch or if it’s too stressful to watch, don’t watch! Drop them off and let them just play
  19. Keep expectations low and simple
  20. Provide unconditional love

Lastly, form a team with their coach. Everyone should be without ego or agenda and on the same page for the good of the player and the person

Jonathan Yarwood – IJGA Director of Golf

Which Type of College is Best for Me?

How does a junior golfer make a decision on which college program is best for them? When you’re ready to start looking at college programs in earnest, it’s important to consider the university as a whole — not just a place to play golf. After all, it’s going to be home for the next four years, and that means your college should be a place where you feel comfortable and can’t wait to return to after a semester break.

There is a good fit for every competitive golfer depending on their individual development. Whether it be NAIA, NCAA or NJCAA, here are the facts about each program, how they differ and their requirements.

NAIA – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

– The NAIA association is comprised of 259 member schools, 22 conferences and more than 60,000 student-athletes.

– NAIA is similar to the NCAA in that it is an association for four year institutions, but is divided into Division I and Division II.

– They have golf in every division and conference.

– They also have championship tournaments for golf teams.

– While the association will have fewer scholarships to go around, the requirements of getting onto a team and staying at an NAIA school are less strict.

– To be eligible for athletic scholarship funding from an NAIA school, students must have two of the following three criteria:

– A minimum ACT score of 18 (science, math, reading) and or minimum SAT score of 860

– A minimum 2.0 GPA

– OR have graduated high school in the top half of your graduating class

– There are scholarship opportunities at a Division I and Division II level, however, few NAIA schools will offer full ride scholarships to athletes.

– They are more likely to provide partial scholarships or some financial aid.

– To receive funding and to play on a team, you must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours, which is considered to be full time.

– On average, there are about five scholarships available at NAIA institutions for those athletes playing golf.

– The biggest difference between the NAIA and NCAA are the size of the schools and number of available scholarships.

Helpful Sites:

NAIA Website:

NAIA Eligibility:

NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I

– There are 340 (approximately 300 golf) schools in Division I which must sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women OR eight for women and six for men.

– Some of the largest differences between divisions is the number of sports teams they must sponsor, number of scholarships they can offer, as well as size of the schools. Different divisions do not necessarily have anything to do with being a better golfer.

– There are roughly four-five scholarships available at the Division I level for Men’s golf and six for Women’s golf.

– The academic requirements to be considered eligible by the NCAA are more difficult than other collegiate sports associations.

– The academic requirements to eligible to play and practice with your D1 team, as well as receive a scholarship include:

– must complete 16 core courses including:

– 4 years of English.

– 3 years of mathematics (Algebra I or higher).

– 2 years of natural/physical science (1 year of lab if offered by high school).

– 1 year of additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science.

– 2 years of social science.

– 4 years of additional courses (from any area above, foreign language or comparative religion/philosophy).

– A cumulative 2.3 GPA, using the NCAA required courses.

– 900 SAT (math and verbal) or a 75 ACT (math, science, reading, English).

– Once these requirements are met, you must prove that you are an amateur athlete with the NCAA. This is done by filling out a series of forms and questionnaires.

– There are three possible eligibility statuses, and the NCAA will determine where you fall:

– Qualifier: met the academic requirements, as well as amateur status, therefore you can practice, compete and receive scholarships.

– Partial qualifier: met the more basic requirements (2.0 GPA) and therefore can practice, cannot compete but can receive financial assistance.

– Non-qualifier: did not meet the NCAA academic requirements, or their other athletic requirements therefore cannot play sports with an NCAA school for at least a year.

NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association- Division II

– Division II schools tend to be smaller public universities and many private institutions. There are currently 282 schools in Division II sports.

– Athletic scholarships are offered at most institutions, but with more limits as to the numbers offered in any one sport than at the Division I level.

– Academic requirements to be deemed eligible at a Division II level:

  • – must complete these 16 core courses:

– 3 years of English

– 2 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)

– 2 years of natural/physical science (1 year of lab if offered high school)

– 3 additional years of English, math, or natural or physical science

– 2 years of social science

– 4 years of additional core courses (from any category above, or foreign language, religion or philosophy);

  • – A 2.0 GPA or better in your NCAA core courses.

– A combined SAT score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68.

– As with Division I, there are three statuses, the NCAA will determine where you fall:

– Qualifier: met the academic requirements, as well as amateur status therefore you can practice, compete and receive scholarships.

– Partial qualifier: met the GPA requirement OR the SAT/ACT requirement, therefore can practice, cannot compete but can receive financial assistance.

– Non-qualifier: did not meet the NCAA academic requirements, or their other athletic requirements therefore cannot play sports with an NCAA school for at least a year.

– Once these requirements are met, you must prove that you are an amateur athlete with the NCAA. This is done by filling out a series of forms and questionnaires.

NCAA National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III

– There are 449 member institutions (both full and provisional), making it the largest of the three divisions in the NCAA.

-Division III schools are considered some of the best academic schools in the country; therefore, they tend to offer generous academic scholarships to athletes.

– Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, however, they award financial aid for tuition, books etc.

– There are no academic requirements, as long as you meet the institutions admissions requirements and have graduated high school.

Helpful Websites:


The NCAA Eligibility Center:

NJCAA – The National Junior College Athletic Association

– National governing body for two-year college athletics, covering junior college and community colleges nationwide.

– There are 505 member NJCAA schools across the country.

– Divided into 24 regions and follows a Division I, II & III model.

– They have golf at every division, and in every region.

– It is a two year commitment, with the expectation of transferring to a 4 year institution.

– Much like the NCAA, Division I in the NJCAA has the ability to offer full scholarships, whereas Division II can provide financial assistance in terms of books, tuition etc. Division III does not offer any scholarship or financial assistance.

– The only requirement to be an eligible athlete with the NJCAA is that you graduate high school.

– If you choose to play for a school registered with NJCAA, you are committing to a full time school load and have the opportunity to play for two seasons.

There are several reasons why athletes choose to go to a Junior College:

– Poor high school GPA/Test scores so athlete could not reach eligibility for other four year schools.

– Started the recruiting process late.

– Athlete was a late bloomer and needs another year or two of development to open up the doors for other schools.

Helpful Sites:

NJCAA Website:

Eligibility Center:

See our article on Best Small College Golf Programs.

10 Tips to be a Better Golf Parent

  1. Provide opportunities to play and compete.
  2. Encourage your child to give 100% effort.
  3. Focus on their improvements, positive points.
  4. Provide unconditional love and support.
  5. Encourage your child to take responsibilities.
  6. Involve your children in any decision to be made.
  7. Respect the coach’s role.
  8. Do more things than golf in your child’s and family life.
  9. Be a good role model.
  10. Enjoy the process of being a golf parent.