From Junior to College Golf: The Recruitment Funnel
30 Jul 2018
by Brendan Ryan of Golf Placement Services

(YouTube video)
(YouTube video)

In my first article on Amateurgolf.com, I shared some of my insight about the relationship between players ranking on either AJGA or Junior Golf Scoreboard and the college in which the sign. In this article, I am going to demonstrate how coaches use numbers to recruit and move players through what I call “the recruitment funnel.”

Related Analysis: Do Junior Golf Rankings Predict College Signings?

The recruitment funnel includes introductory emails, official visits, offers and ultimately players which join the team. Along the way I will try to share estimated numbers and insight which hopefully will allow junior golfers and their families insights which will help their own recruitment process.

As you may remember, my data suggests that the average Junior Golf Scoreboard Ranking for a Division 1 male signee is 365 and the average for a female is 211. When reading the article, keep in mind that the recruitment process for Ivy League Schools and Power 5 schools is different, since they are looking for very specific players; Ivy League schools need players with a high academic index (a combination of GPA, SAT, SAT 2’s and class rank) and decent golfers, while Power 5 schools simply need “studs” (my data suggests that the average NJGS of the starting 5 at the 2018 National Championship for Alabama was 9, while it was 30).

For the rest of the schools, they will likely start with a list of between 50-200 players for between 1-3 spots. This means that at this point, an email will result in an offer between 2% or less of the time. The email inquiry is likely because the coach believes that the prospective student athlete meets several criteria including Junior Golf Scoreboard ranking, similar climates, cities in which the institution is possible and possibly past campers or sons / daughters of alumni. The tone of the email is up beat and can include misleading language like “we are very interested” or “we think you will be a great fit” when the email is being sent to lots of prospective student athletes.

For junior golfers and their families, it is important to remember that emails like this are being sent to lots of players and getting one is not an indication that the coach is going to offer a scholarship. Instead it is an indication that you may check one of more boxes the coach thinks are important.

When responding to these emails, my suggestions are to include the following; GPA, SAT (or SAT test date), class rank (if available), up coming tournament schedule, resume, coaches name / contact and a link to swing video which is posted on Youtube (keep in mind most coaches are neophytes and use school computers which can sometimes prevent downloads or have limited software).

What happens next is very important; how quickly does the coach respond and what do they suggest for a next step. My experience suggests that for student-athletes the coach is serious about, they will want to set up a phone call and work towards a visit quickly. For student athletes who maybe possibilities but are not a high priority, the coach will keep the communication to email and use phrases like “please keep me updated” or “looking forward to see how you play this summer”. For players who are getting these types of emails, it is important they are proactive in the process and pursue options which result in phone calls and ultimately visits.

Although speaking on the phone and going on a visit are good steps towards getting options, it is likely that a coach will have between 15-30 visits for those 1-3 spots, so getting on campus still does not mean you are going to attend that school. Although that this point your chances have increases, only about 10% of campus visits result in offers.

The power shifts slightly in the recruitment process when the prospective student athlete gets offers. The fact is that offers beget offers and offers validate the demand of coaches within the market, which often leads to multiple offers. However, coaches will often check this power by putting time limits on the offers, which can be as little as a week.

Leading up to a prospective student athlete’s Junior year, I would recommend families prepare for the recruitment process by taking several steps including; do research; what is your ranking? In the past, where have players of your ranking attended school? What are the rank of those schools? Are there other schools with a similar rank that you are interested in? Players should also prepare a resume and make sure they have swing videos uploaded on Youtube.

Prospective student athletes should also be very aware of the signals sent by coaches on September 1 of the players Junior Year. This is the first opportunity coaches have to communicate with the player. On this day, are you getting emails? Calls? How many? If you are not getting anything, it does not mean you will not play college golf, however it does mean that you need to actively engage in the recruitment process, send emails and pursue options while continuing to showcase your strengths to coaches.

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