How do you Compare?
01 Sep 2019
by Brendan Ryan of Golf Placement Services

Are you good enough at golf to get a scholarship to a D1 University? Are you on a developmental path that will have you ready to play D1 college golf? As a parent, do you really know how good your kid needs to be? Or, if they even have a chance of making it to division one golf? How do you know? Do you know the key benchmarks for junior golfers in pursuit of a golf scholarship?

If you don't, you are not alone. In fact, I have found that one of the most confusing parts of the recruitment process for prospective student athletes and their families, is finding accurate milestones for junior golfers in pursuit of Division I scholarships. To set the record straight, during a recent rain delay at the Yucatan Open, I processed approximately 2000 data points which included scoring from junior golf tournaments, as well as data from college signees to try to shed some light on the "how good you really need to be" question.

Here’s what I found:

The numbers in these diagrams represent the scoring differential, in each year of high school, for the average player who will go on to play Division I Golf.

What is scoring differential? The AJGA calculates it like this: "For the 75 percent of the player's rounds that are his/her lowest scores, a player's average score is compared to the USGA rating of the courses they played."

Some observations:

1. Boys and girls, on average, shoot lower scores on average every successive year of high school, getting at least 1 shot better per year.

2. Standard deviations are greater during freshman year, approximately 5 shots for girls and 2.5 shots for boys, compared to senior year, which means if you are young and off track, you have time to catch up.

3. While the data represents scoring differential for the year, a closer look suggests that prospective student athletes average 1-2 shots worse from October to March and then approximately 1-2 shots better from June to August.

4. When examining the data, I also looked at the best player. Interestingly, the best girl as a freshman had a scoring differential of approximately -5.5, while the best senior was essentially the same. For boys, the numbers improved from -3.5 to -5.5. Please note that when considering this data, I removed Lucy Li and Akshay Bhatia as both are statistical outliers.

Unfortunately, at this point, this is all I've got for you. It's not much, but it's more than has ever been available before. The good news is I am currently engaged in research with a team at York University in Canada to hopefully elaborate on the numbers soon.

Among the questions we are trying to answer are: when do the best players start? How many hours per week do they practice? How often do they receive coaching? What does their schedule look like? When these numbers become available, I will add to the diagram, as well as post a follow up article.

In the meantime, I hope this article helps create some clearer expectations. Keep practicing...

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