After going through the “College Search Process” In 2009, I have found myself back in it after realizing I had made a mistake in my first college selection. I find many High School golfers from around the area where I grew up asking me for advice on contacting schools, what they have to do to get schools interested, and what they should look for in a school. My response usually is to:
1) Start contacting schools that interest you as soon as possible. Even though schools can’t contact you until after your Junior year, it doesn’t hurt to make a coach aware that your out there. Coaches who take interest in you will most likely start following your tournament results as you compete in Junior Tournaments. ( I started Contacting schools in the Summer going into my Sophomore year of High School. I even went as far as taking non-official visits to schools during my Sophomore year.)
2) Play in as many tournaments as possible! Most competitive golf programs look for kids who are playing in the most competitive tournaments, and have national exposure. Playing in AJGA, IJGT, and Calloway Junior Tournaments gives yourself the best chance to be noticed. I realize those tournaments are very costly and many families cannot afford them which is okay. Just because playing well in one of those tournaments allows for more exposure doesn’t mean your doomed if you can’t play in them. Playing in as many Local, State, and Regional tournaments can also spark interests from coaches. If you play well in a lot of those tournaments coaches will still find interest in you!
3) Put together a golf resume. Your resume should include as many tournaments as possible to show the coach that you are competing and have experience. Include courses names, yardage, par, along with your score and finish. It is also good to list your tournaments by date, and whether it was a local, regional, or national tournament. Your resume should also include things such as your GPA, contact info, your current golf coach and others a coach can contact to find out more about your abilities. Listing other athletic’s you’ve participated in also doesn’t hurt, but don’t go overboard with it! Make sure you update your resume periodically.
4) When contacting a coach for the first time the chances are you’ll be communicating through e-mail. Your first e-mail should tell a coach a little about yourself. It should also tell him why you are interested in their program/school (don’t e-mail schools you have not researched). A long with your e-mail you should attach your resume. Some coaches may ask for a swing video, so it’s good to have one on hand if they do. Don’t stress if you don’t hear back from schools right away or at all. Many coaches are busy and they receive many e-mails from golfers wanting to play for them. No reply could simply mean he has already filled his roster. Sending the coach another email a few months after a no reply also would be a good idea. If you still get a no reply then it would probably be a good idea to move on. (Make sure you be yourself when talking with coaches !)
6) Look for schools that are realistic. Everyone wants to play for the “Big Name” or “Popular” University. Research schools to see what players on the teams scores are then compare them to yours. This should help you recognize what schools might find interest in you. Also remember you are going to college to get an education so look for schools that offer your major and are good academically.
7) Create a list of schools, schedule to meet the coach, and tour the campus. While meeting the coach be yourself and try to create a relationship with him. If you don’t feel comfortable with a coach then it’s probably not the school for you. Also make sure the campus is up the your expectations. You want to be able to feel good about your college choice.
8 ) Going the “Community College Route” if you lacked tournament experience, grades, or were too late contacting schools feel no shame in having to spend a year or two at a community college. Community College golf allows you to get the tournament experience and exposure you may have lacked, as well as improve your grades. It also allows you to stay in contact with the colleges that interest you while playing collegiate golf.
9) Make sure you ask questions about the school and program. You want to know what your getting into and don’t want any unexpected surprises once committed to the school.
The unplanned route that I have taken has been, I started my collegiate career at a NCAA D2 school in North Carolina. After a semester at the school I realized this was not the school I wanted to be at. The school was having accreditation problems that I was unaware of before going there, and the golf program was not what I expected. I then transfered to a NJCAA college where I found a much better atmosphere. During that same year, our team went on to win the NJCAA National Championship. Now my search for a college is taking place again. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I hope my experiences will help you find the school you desire.