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Come to Your Senses: Five Myths of College Golf Recruiting
25 Sep 2018
by Brendan Ryan of Golf Placement Services

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Don't expect to carry a bag with this logo on it (USA Today photo)
Don't expect to carry a bag with this logo on it (USA Today photo)

I am lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside some of the best minds in golf, supporting young men and women in their pursuit of college golf and beyond. Although the job is mostly amazing, it can be challenging managing the expectations of parents who confuse college guidance with the "make a wish foundation".

These parents are often fueled by a love for their child, as well as a healthy dose of cognitive dissidence, as they plot to beat the system and help their child end up at either an elite academic institution or at a major conference school with big time athletics. Here are some of the most common myths:

Myth #1: I’m late in the recruitment process

Each and every junior is on his or her own development path. This path is influenced by a multitude of variables including, but not limited to: when they started golf, when they specialized in golf, how their bodies mature during puberty, the climate they grow up in, and their interest and attitude in school. For some juniors their path will include many junior wins and an early commitment to a major conference school. For others, it will include a mediocre junior career and potentially junior college. Regardless, it is important to remember that no path is a guarantee to success.

Myth #2: Golf is going to help me get into a school

Based on my data compiled over the past seven years, golf is about the worst sport you can play to help as an admissions push! Why? Because golf is ultimately filled with tons of affluent, well-spoken young people who are seriously committed to athletics. Each year our sport produces tons of great options for elite academic schools, while other sports like basketball, football and hockey don’t. Ultimately golf might bump you over the line if you are among the best players in the world and a very good student, but if you are looking for more support, I would suggest you start working on your three-pointer.

Myth #3: I can compare my junior scores to college players

Many players who are searching for college scholarships compare their scores to college scores, often extrapolating they can play for the team. Unfortunately, this approach has two problems:

1. College course set-ups are harder than junior course set-ups and college players are always playing while balancing school, while most junior tournaments are in the summer, without school and in the best weather conditions.

2. When looking at the roster, players make the mistake of examining players in the middle (or even bottom) of the roster. Competent college coaches recruit number one players and are likely looking for players they feel can impact their team. They then fill out the roster with players who are typically on very small scholarships (less than 25%) who are either local or they think have tremendous up-side (either academically or athletically).

Myth #4: I can play college golf at Stanford

According to Matt Weinberger from Nextgengolf, there are about 222,805 high school players involved in golf. If approximately one quarter of them are seniors, then that would mean there are 56,500 seniors. When you consider that Stanford takes one, maybe two players each year, and the odds of playing at Stanford, without considering any international competition, is about 1 in 28,250.

Keep in mind that each year approximately 700 boys and girls sign National Letters of Intent and post the data on websites like Junior Golf Scoreboard. Over the past few years I have been closely examining this info and have seen very few cases, maybe one or two per year, where student athletes have finished at schools statistically way above the average demanded by their rankings and results.

Myth #5: I have to play in lots of tournaments

Many parents receive the advice to put their children into lots of tournaments, even at an early age. In my opinion this is very bad advice; a proper development pathway to college golf should involve sound development of ball control under the watchful eye of a golf instructor, and then hours of deliberate practice including competition at your local golf course. Only after the junior player has demonstrated that they can consistently shoot in the low 70s at their home course under competitive conditions, are they ready for a comprehensive junior schedule.

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