Cut through the lies: Four Truths of College Golf
22 Oct 2018
by Brendan Ryan of Golf Placement Services

- John Quint photo
- John Quint photo

Beware! Some golf parents are liars who will mislead you.

They walk around tournaments and talk absolute nonsense about their child and the options they have for college golf. The result? Your head starts to hurt trying to figure out how to keep up.

Wanting the best for your child is normal. However, be aware that it is not uncommon for parents to mislead one another. When this happens, you have a choice: play the game or understand these four truths of college golf.

Truth #1: Your Child is More than the School they Attend

College is high stress and that’s why it’s critical that parents remind themselves that the college their child attends does not define them. When parents ignore this, they create a high stakes environment which involves a number of factors outside of the student’s control that creates undue stress which can destroy their relationship. Neither effective nor worth it in my opinion.

So what should a parent do? The parents' job is to be the sanity in the conversation and use their intricate knowledge of their child to help steer him or her to an environment where they can flourish and learn new skills. Finding the right environment should both challenge the student while making him or her feel safe and confident.

Truth #2: Your Junior’s Golf Is A Bad Investment

Our data suggests that the typical college golfer starts playing at age 8. The typical family spends upwards of $9,500 per year taking their junior to college golf. Over 10 years, that’s $95,000 spent on junior’s golf. Many of the top players’ families spend significantly more, particularly during high school.

Now consider, according to the College Board, that the average annual cost of tuition and fees at a public university for the 2014-15 school year was $9,139 for an in-state student and $22,598 for an out of state student. This means that even if you just invest in your junior golfer only during the 4 years of high school, to break even, you need a full scholarship!

Truth #3: Full Rides Are Nearly Impossible To Get

In a survey by Estefania Acosta of 73 college golf coaches, they estimate that between 5-10% of college golfers get full scholarships. If 600 players each year get recruited to Division 1 golf programs, that means somewhere between 30-60 college golfers each year get "full rides".

When considering a budget for golf, families should assume that they will need to pay full price for college. If this leaves ample golf budget, then spend away! If not, then I suggest prioritizing the college fund.

Truth #4: You Need to Take What You Can Get

College golf is not about what you deserve, it’s about what’s available. Less than half a percent of players in the college golf recruiting process are choosers; they are the elite who can demand full scholarships and who coaches are willing to do nearly anything to recruit. For the rest, the question is not what you deserve but what is the best viable option?

By re-framing the questions this way, junior golfers and their families move past the glory of scholarship and brand, probing deeper to find a perfect fit, one that makes the college experience worth the money you are going to pay.

Based on years of experience we can tell you that this perfect fit is what most golf families ought to be looking for, an environment where the prospective student athlete has the chance to excel academically, make friends with people from diverse backgrounds, and learn new skills. It is a comfortable environment where the junior can take chances in the classroom and learn.

When starting the search process, parents should identify schools where their student athlete is likely to earn a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of over 3.5 for his or her college career. By having a GPA in this range, the student has the high possibility, if necessary, to attend graduate school in the future. Other factors to consider include: how likely the player will travel to tournaments, how much time it will take the student to achieve their desired GPA, class size, academic resources, and percent of graduates who go on to pursue graduate degrees.

The good news is that the system is very fair and there are lots of great options for every young man or woman who wants to make golf a part of the college experience.

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