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!

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.

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.

College Prep 101

With the spring semester in full swing, reality begins to set in and the whisper of graduation and college starts to become a scream for seniors. It’s impossible to ignore the future, and not being prepared for what lies beyond high school can be alarming. Many seniors in their final semester of high school begin to have what is affectionately called ‘senioritis’. Assignments become more difficult and reality begins to set in. Choosing and committing to a college is an exhausting process that involves lots of paperwork and long conversations, and when you find one that clicks it can feel like things are looking up.
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Before a student-athlete gets to that last semester of the senior year, underclass students will set up unofficial college visit after talking with a school/coach as the next step for learning more about the university and the golf program. Once a coach has recruited a student to be a part of their team it is an important decision to verbally commit and sign a letter of a intent that balances the student’s goals and priorities.

Fortunately, being a part of IJGA gives student-athletes many advantages when it comes to finding a college that fits golf and academic goals. The College Placement Team at IJGA works around the clock to help students turn the daunting process of looking for a college into something exciting. When looking for a college, it is important to have different options and to not be discouraged. Communication is vital during this process and keeping up with your emails from prospective colleges and coaches has never been more important. Along the way there may be bumps in the road but remembering the student’s goals and being realistic about the options available within golf and academic development.

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<strong>Useful Tips:</strong>
<li><strong>Don’t go at it alone!</strong> There are always going to be people by your side willing to help with the college process. Make yourself responsibility, but don’t feel like you have to do everything by yourself.</li>
<li><strong>Ask lots of questions.</strong> When meeting with a college coach or advisor, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can. Find out what is important for you in a school, and make sure you don’t leave the campus wishing you would have asked more questions.</li>
<li><strong>Research colleges</strong>, as well as the location, how the campus looks and feels is important in choosing a school, but so is the surrounding community. Many colleges encourage their students to become a part of the community during your four years, so you want it to have things that are appealing to you!</li>
<li><strong>Make grades and your golf score a priority during high school.</strong> It’s easy to get distracted when a class mate is doing better, or some in not being nice to you today, take on that challenge to focus on positive character and goals, making your college resume and search appealing to college coaches. Your hard work and determination in high school will improve your college search.</li>
<li><strong>Take advantage of college prep courses, workshops, and good advice from others.</strong></li>
<li><strong>Be Organized</strong>. Keep your schedule, and work environment organized. This will reflect how you plan your approach to the game of golf as well as you college search. If you start early, it will become second nature and you will be grateful that you are organized and not frantic. During the college process you will receive lots of information and important paperwork, and it is important to know how to work through the application process just as much as it is for course management and reading greens.</li>
<li><strong>Be Challenged. </strong>As your advisors and guidance counselors are here to assist you, as well as deadlines. Challenge yourself to give these tasks priority as much as you would to your new swing and that big project due for class.</li>