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Recruiting the Coach: How to navigate the road to college golf
12 Oct 2019
by Brendan Ryan of Golf Placement Services

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For 99% of junior golfers reading this article, if you are serious about playing college golf, then you need to attack the problem like you are the one recruiting the coach and not the other way around! How do you do this? Here are some tips:

Do your research

In my past articles, I have demonstrated the link between players' rankings on National Junior Golf Scoreboard and where they get recruited. After reviewing the articles, consider that most of these recruits have test scores in the 1000 SAT / 22 ACT range and are getting approximately 40% scholarship. If you have higher test scores and a bigger budget, you may want to start emailing coaches at schools ranked ahead of the historical data, and vise versa if you have lower scores.

When emailing coaches, I think it is helpful to put in the subject line of the email your NJGS ranking, SAT and GPA. I would recommend that you send emails on Wednesdays or Thursdays, the days coaches are least likely to be on the road traveling with their teams, or in early June, after coaches have had a short break after their season.

Keep in mind that historical data suggests that this part of the process should take between 10-20 hours. This includes doing your research, creating a resume and swing video, writing a nice two paragraph introduction letter, and finding/sending emails.

Be a Fan

Congrats! Your hard work and research have resulted in the coach emailing you back! Now what?

In the response to the coach, you should thank them, and ask what is the best way to communicate with them moving forward. Many older coaches may prefer calls or emails; be malleable to their preference.

If the coach is really interested, it is likely he/she will want a phone conversation shortly. Keep in mind when making these conversations, coaches have very low expectations; they are used to carrying the conversation and much of it will likely focus on golf. However. this does not mean that you should not prepare by having both a list of questions, as well as a strong understanding of the golf program including average score, tournament schedule and facilities. Most importantly, know the team's recent results. Starting the conversation with something like “saw your team played great this week at X event” or “wow, saw Teddy shot 68 yesterday, that’s awesome” will go a long way.

Regardless of the conversation, it is important to follow up promptly; my advice here is to send the coach a thank you note, hand written via mail. This demonstrates some investment of time and resources and will surely separate you.

I would make sure to check the team's website every day when the team is competing. When results are posted, send the coach a comment, showing you are keeping an eye on their results and care. I would also recommend following the team on social media including Facebook and Instagram. It is a good way to keep up to date on the team. When the team does well, comment via their preferred mode of communication which could mean sending an email, or text or maybe calling the coach.

The most successful college prospects are excellent communicators who promptly respond to email, text and phone calls. Although you may not be used to checking your email each day, I would highly recommend you do. At least once a week you should also check your junk mail. Missing an email sets a very poor precedent in the relationship.

Building a proper rapport with the coach should lead to about 4-6 text messages per week and a phone call about every 7-10 days. If you have not heard from the coach in 5 or more days, I would recommend contacting them via their preferred mode of communication.

Examples of questions to ask a coach

What is your coaching philosophy?
What is your favorite part of coaching?
What type of student best fits in at your university?
What type of athlete best fits in?
What are the goals for the golf program?
How do you determine who play play in your top 5 at tournaments?
Do you ever take more than 5 players to a tournament?
What access does the team have to golf courses?
Is it expected to have your own vehicle?
Do you do any technical swing work with the players?
What is your greatest strength as a coach?
Do you offer academic support, such as tutors for students?
What percent of teachers have terminal degrees?
How does my major impact golf? Can I do it and golf?
Do you support graduates in getting jobs?
What success do people have getting jobs?
What success do people have getting into grad schools?
What is the record of campus safety?

Beyond scores, being a fan in the recruitment process makes a big difference. Junior golfers need to take an active role in their recruitment by liking and following teams on social media and making consistent attempts to reach out to the coach in a constructive way.

Hopefully following this advice will help junior golfers and their families have a better understanding of not only where to search, but some of the expectations of coaches when communication begins. Should you have any questions about the process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

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