Survey: What do College Coaches think about Teaching Pros?
02 Apr 2019
by Brendan Ryan of Golf Placement Services

In our last article, we shared the results of a survey of 50 teaching professionals to get their opinions on college golf.

Survey: What do Golf Pros think about College Golf?

This week, we set out to answer the other side: what do college coaches think of swing instructors? In total we got responses from 54 coaches with an average of 10 years of college coaching experience. The data set included 20 coaches who only coach men’s golf, 12 coaches who only coach women’s golf and 22 coaches who coach both men and women. It also included coaches from every level including NCAA Division 1 to NAIA and NJCAA.

Q: What percentage of your players see a swing coach?

The average answer was 73% with only two of respondents reporting 50% or less. This is number demonstrates that the fate of college coaches is certainly intertwined with the player's swing coach, making the relationship important (at least to the coach).

Q: Would you recruit from a Junior Golf Academy?

A criticism from coaches has been that junior golf academies are “swing factories” and may not prepare kids for the college environment where there is a greater emphasis on performance. However, the data clearly shows this heuristic is not true -- only 2 of 54 coaches who responded said that they would not recruit from a junior golf academy!

Q: What percentage of swing coaches do you believe significantly help players improve?

The average answer was 56%. Coincidentally, when we previously asked swing instructors what percent of college coaches significantly help players improve, the answer was also 56%!

Q: (i) What percentage of swing instructors really understand what it takes to play college golf and (ii) What percentage of swing instructors do you trust?

In both cases, the average answer was in the low 30% range. Although this number is low, it is not surprising for several reasons, including that there are very few forums where college coaches and swing instructors get the chance to mingle, share ideas and build mutual trust. Furthermore, both groups have extremely demanding jobs which already challenge family dynamics and leave little, if any, free time.

Q: What advice do you have for swing coaches?

The resounding theme was: respect the level of college golf. Nearly all coaches reported getting calls from swing instructors about players who were not a good fit, either academically or athletically. This is not surprising since prospective student athletes, their parents and coaches often frame the recruiting process in the best possible terms, forgetting averages and overselling potential.

Unfortunately, college golf in 2019 is a meritocracy with international competition which drives some of the best golf outside of the PGA and LPGA Tour. “Good enough” simply is not good enough, and will likely earn junior a spot as a walk-on in a bottom-end program.

Having looked at the numbers, the outcomes of these two data collections are not surprising. However, they are unfortunate. I am lucky to work closely with both groups and in my own experience most swing instructors and college coaches are warm, caring people who are invested in golf and making their students better.

However, in the world of golf, swing instructors get way too much voice; when was the last time Golf Digest, Golf.com or even GolfWRX published something by a college coach? Instead the majority of college golf material is produced by third parties who produce pathetic material. Starved for information, prospective student athletes, parents and instructors sometimes use this information as an anchor, causing further confusion.

In order to help prospective student athletes grow, it is important that college coaches are given a voice to help educate people about the process. It is also important that, when or if given the chance, college coaches use their voices to produce quality, in-depth articles that help everyone understand their world.


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