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.
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.
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