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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

Scholarships

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.

Sources

http://www.scholarshipstats.com/golf.htm

Golf Ball Landing On Grass

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 Web.com 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.