While the college coaches are busy with their season, I am going to give them a break from picking their brains about the recruiting process. Now it’s your chance to get your questions answered. Email me with any questions you have about college recruiting, playing college or professional golf or other questions you may have about becoming the best golfer/person you can be. Send them to bjackson@pkbgt.org and I will do my best to address them over the next few articles. Here are some questions submitted by Par4Success families.

If I’m a freshman or sophomore, and I have a few schools in mind, what is my strategy for trying to get on the coaches radar?  What should I be doing to make sure these coaches know who I am and how I am playing? Get an evaluation from someone who understands the recruiting process, recruiting timelines and the realities of playing college golf. This will give you a much better understanding of what is realistic so that you don’t waste time and get behind in the process. Then build a resume and create a swing/short game video that is easily accessible for college coaches to access. Create a list of 50 or more schools, allowing some room that your scores may improve, but also being realistic with where your game currently stands. Send an intro email that is specific to that coach (never send a mass email) and include your resume and video. Make sure to include your upcoming schedule so they will know where you will be playing.

Coaches cannot contact freshmen and sophomores but they can contact your swing or high school coach so make sure you include their contact info. Make follow up phone calls to the coaches to let them know you sent your resume and would like to schedule a visit. Leave a voicemail if they don’t answer and include your coaches contact info. Then keep the coaches updated every 2-3 weeks with any tournament results or other achievements

2.  Last year I had a few really bad showings in tournaments.  I know this can impact recruiting and I want to choose my battles more wisely this summer.  How can I map out my year so that I am still playing big tournaments with solid competition but minimize the poor showings and bad tournaments? Make sure you maintain a good mix of weaker fields, with stronger ones that may be more challenging. Don’t feel like you should only play the bigger tournaments. If you continue to push yourself too far past your current level then your game will never develop as it should. Think about Michelle Wie and how much playing the PGA events hurt her game and confidence, rather than choosing to work her way up the ladder and learn what it means to win at each stage. Play tournaments that you know you can win and have a good finish, this will help keep your confidence up and allow you to post some good scores. Then mix in stronger fields that will test your game.

Also make sure you look back on your rounds and identify 2-3 things that were good about your rounds, 2-3 things that could have been better and 2-3 specific ways you plan to work on those areas. Set a plan to practice the weaker areas before your next tournament.

3.  Its my senior year and I’m not on anyone’s radar.  I’ve improved so much in the past year, but coaches are telling me they would love to have me but it seems like rosters at all of my top choices are full.  What should I do? Unfortunately for many recruits senior year feels like it is too late, and with recruiting in the modern age it is certainly considered very late in the process. While your options are going to be extremely limited at this stage there are some other ways to still play college golf. Most of your DI schools will have finished their recruiting before senior year even begins, so make sure you don’t put too much time into those schools. Some of your smaller DI schools and schools in colder states may still be recruiting but even those are unlikely.

Focus mostly on DII, DIII and NAIA schools. There are a lot of great schools and coaches at these levels. Reach out to as many of these schools as you can. Use www.collegegolf.com to help identify these schools and get the coaches contact info. While it is an option, try not to think in terms of “I can always transfer”. If a coach picks up on this attitude, more than likely they won’t recruit you. Do your best to find a school and program that fits you and one that you can see yourself at for 4-5 years. If you can’t find anything, then consider Junior College. This is a great option to play very competitive college golf and still transfer to a 4 year program to finish out your eligibility. It is much easier to transfer from JuCo than it is to start at a 4 year school and want to transfer to another 4 year school.

Some recruits may be given the option to walk on, try out or receive a roster spot. Make sure you are clear on what the coach is saying. A roster spot typically means you have an actual spot on the team, just no scholarship. Walk-on may mean you still have to try out to earn a spot on the team. Some coaches have different ways they handle walk-ons and try outs. Just make sure you understand what a coach is telling you. Walking on or trying out is a very difficult task because the coaches have time and money invested in the players he/she recruited, so they may give more preference to those players when it comes to the travel team. Do your best to find a team where the coach wants you, you are guaranteed a spot and playing time seems very realistic.