I have recently had discussions with several of my players who are nearing the point of making their college decision so I wanted to address a few things to think about as you navigate both the early and later stages of the process.
I receive a lot of feedback from coaches about what happens once a player gets on campus in comparison to what was discussed during the recruiting process. Many times what a player tells the coach during the recruiting process isn’t what they are willing to do once they get to school.
The decision to play collegiate golf is a life-changing decision. If you end up at a school or program that doesn’t match up to your goals, work ethic, and expectations then it can end up being a long 4 years for you, the coach and the team. Yes you “can” transfer and in some cases things do change that are out of your control, but transferring is rarely an easy process so don’t just assume that is going to be an option and take this decision lightly. Take the time to do the homework and base your answers and decisions on what you feel is going to be the right fit for you in college.
One thing to consider is the golf demand:
- Are you willing to put in extra time beyond normal practice hours?
- Is the coach going to expect you to put in that extra time?
- Are you willing to get up early in the morning for workouts if that is required?
- Are you willing to do everything the coach asks of you?
- Are you going to focus during the scheduled practice time?
Many junior golfers struggle with work ethic simply because they don’t know how to practice efficiently or they need someone to hold them accountable. While you will get a level of accountability and structure from your college coach there is still a different level of expectations based on the type of coach you choose to play for so make sure that is going to be a good fit. Really ask yourself what you will be willing to put into your golf game once you get to college and discuss this with the coach.
Next to consider is the academic demand:
- Do you want the academics to be a bigger focus than the golf?
- Do you want to major in a degree that might conflict with golf demands?
- Do you struggle in high school to maintain grades and play golf?
- Will you do better in a bigger or smaller classroom setting?
- Do you see homework and studying as a way to be more successful or as something you have to do?
The academic demand can certainly vary from school to school, and the expectations of the coach can also play a major factor in your academic choices and commitment. This is a very important topic of discussion for many girls going through this process as the majority of junior girl golfers have high expectations of their academic demands in college. You really must take the time to talk with the coach and figure out if your academic plans and expectations will match up to their expectations of you as a golfer.
Another thing to consider is your social life:
- Do you want to join a sorority?
- Do you want to participate in activities and clubs?
- Do you tend to spend a lot of time with your friends?
- Do you enjoy going out to parties?
- Are you going to feel like you miss out on college experience if you don’t have a very active social life?
Golf is a very demanding sport in college because it is two full seasons, one of the most time consuming of any collegiate sport. While you will still have plenty of time to enjoy college life, you will have to make a lot more sacrifices than non-athletes. In some cases, you will make more sacrifices than other athletes because of the extensive travel for tournaments, two competitive seasons, out of practice expectation time and offseason expectations to play and practice.
Golfers don’t get a very long offseason, typically only a short period before and after Christmas break. There will be times at night that your friends will be going out or participating in a school activity and you will have curfew or need to stay in to catch up on work you missed while you were traveling for a tournament.
Some student-athletes can juggle academics, social life and their sport easier than others. If you have a difficult time in high school keeping up then it will only get tougher in college where there are more demands and more distractions with less discipline and accountability from your parents. Ask yourself if having a social life will be more important than a demanding golf program.
Be honest with yourself and with the coach. It will only lead to arguments and issues if you aren’t honest about what you want out of your college experience. There are many ways to find the right combination of everything you want as long as get started early, do the research and contact as many coaches as possible.