On-the-Course Success in College
More than 78% percent of the AJGT Graduating Class of 2007 received collegiate golf scholarships. More thanr 55% of the AJGT Class of 2006 received collegiate offers. College coaches are watching the Arrowhead Tour Website carefully, both for tournaments scores and points standings, and are often checking with us for recommendations on players and inquiring about grades, test scores, coachability, and character. Naturally, the AJGT cooperates with all of these inquiries.
The Arrowhead Tour has compiled a mass e-mail list of every collegiate golf programs in the nation. Several times a year, the tour sends the results of events to college coaches by mass e-mail.
Playing College Golf
One of the most common questions asked by members of the Arrowhead Tour is, "How can I get an opportunity to play college golf?" Here are some suggestions that will apply to every AJGT member who seeks a collegiate golf opportunity:
1. Golf is unlike most high school sports in that college coaches recruit players from junior tours and junior events moreso than from performances in high school competitions. This is necessarily so in golf, because so many high school tournaments are limited to 1-day or 9-hole competitions. An event on the Arrowhead Tour will always be a minimum of 36 holes and competition will often hail from several states. One-day tournaments and club championships are not ranked tournaments and results will rarely draw the attention of college coaches.
2. Build your resume by playing in as many tournaments as possible. The more tournaments in which you participate, the more scoring opportunities you have (unless you're ill or injured, always finish every event you begin, even if you are playing poorly). College coaches know you'll occasionally have a bad round. The question then becomes, "How do you handle the experience?" Bouncing back from a poor outing with a good performance the next day speaks volumes about your character and mental toughness. As Rocky Balboa says, "It's simple mathematics." If you play 6 tournaments a year, you have 6 chances a year to shoot 67-69-136. If you play 15 to 20 tournaments a year, you have triple the chances to post impressive numbers that can be listed on a resume.
3. Play year-round and plan to travel some. Playing just the high school season and a few summer events will leave you short of experience and exposure. Get out a calendar, look at the AJGT schedule, and circle some events you'd like to play outside your own area. This will also introduce you to "playing out of a suitcase" and provide you with the experience of playing on new courses, oftentimes against new competition. You'll learn to deal with every conceivable lie, encounter every rules question imaginable, negotiate different type courses, and putt on different surfaces. Even when you don't score particularly well, you will be gaining something valuable every time you tee it up. In short, you'll become tournament-tested and tournament-tough.
4. Expect to play in inclement weather and learn to enjoy it. Many college tournaments are conducted in less than ideal conditions. Your experience on the AJGT will prepare you for 35mph wind, blistering summer heat, frigid winter air, rain, humidity, and everything in-between. Remember, when conditions are bad, your chances of winning increase, if only because many people cannot play their best in less than optimum conditions. If you train yourself to be a good bad-weather player, you'll have an inherent advantage in many tournaments and you'll be doing yourself a favor in preparing for similar conditions in collegiate events.
5. Be prepared to struggle occasionally and plan on experiencing peaks and valleys in your tournament scoring efforts. Many AJGT players who have received collegiate opportunities owe their success in large part to the fact that they simply kept battling and refused to give up when times were tough. Refrain from comparing yourself with players on the AJGT who are currently scoring better than you. Understand that they didn't start out playing at that level. They, too, took Ben Hogan's advice to heart and "dug it out of the ground." That is, they practiced until they improved and then they practiced some more. Some of the most successful players in AJGT history, many of whom have gone on to collegiate golf opportunities, finished last in their first tournament outings at age 13 and 14. Persevere. Persevere. Persevere.
6. Practice. Go the extra mile with practice. Get seriously dedicated on the range and on the chipping and putting green. Chip and putt with friends and create games of competition to keep things lively.
7. Find a trusted teacher and stick with him/her. Expect to struggle in tournament play when you begin taking lessons from a new teacher and change your swing. Sometimes you go backward before you go forward.
8. Get serious about a workout and strength training routine. The stomach is the engine of the golf swing. Keep it toned and flat. The stronger and more fit golfer has an inherent advantage, especially during the final holes of a tournament or in unusually hot conditions.
9. Read books about successful golf careers. They inspire us and teach us that everyone starts from scratch and builds and that even the greatest players in the world have overcome adversity, injuries, and long stretches of poor play.
10. Send a resume to a dozen colleges or more, preferably in the late spring of your junior year. Your resume should include your tournament scoring record (complete with names of tournaments, yardage played, your scores each day and total scores, and where you placed in the field). Your resume should also include sections on your academic record (include a list of all advanced placement or honors courses you have taken), including your current and cumulative GPA, your ACT and/or SAT scores, a copy of your official high school transcript, and your community service and extracurricular activities. Add a section on recommendations, listing your high school and your swing coach and their contact information.
11. Send your resume to schools of different size and classification. Consider Division III and NAIA schools. Some of the nation's best collegiate institutions fall into these 2 categories. Some NAIA schools give excellent golf scholarships. Division III schools, while not providing golf scholarships per se, oftentimes offer leadership, presidential, and/or academic scholarships to student-athletes who can contribute to their campus in some way. If you're a male, know the type of recruits that each level of collegiate program is seeking. Most Division One Men's Golf Programs begin with rounds in the 60s and tournaments won as their 2 first criteria. If you have never won a tournament or never shot a round in the 60s in a ranked event, you probably will not be recruited by Division One colleges. Send your resume to Division II, Division III, and NAIA schools. If you begin shooting in the 60s and start winning ranked events, you can always send resumes to Division I schools at a later date. For female golfers on the AJGT, the number of collegiate opportunities is quite remarkable. Many college golf scholarships for girls go unused each year simply because colleges cannot fill their quota of players.
12. Write a cover letter to accompany each resume you send out and address each one to the individual coach at that college, and use the coach's name in the salutation. You might consider the purchase of the Annual Blue Book of College Athletics, which lists all the colleges in North America, their addresses, e-mails, enrollment, classification, and names of men's and women's golf coaches. Most coaches' names and school addresses can be found simply by logging onto to the college's Website, going to the menu button for athletics, and then finding the Staff Directory. Usually, you can find the URL for the college simply by spelling out the college and adding ".edu" after the name of the college, as in www.lsu.edu.
13. There are 2 signing periods for golf, one in November and one in April. If a coach calls you or e-mails you, it is courteous and professional to respond. If you definitely do not want to attend the school that the coach represents, be honest and tell the coach exactly that, but don't let his/her phone calls and e-mails go unanswered. Do coaches the courtesy of telling them the truth and allowing them to move on to other potential recruits.
14. Try to visit some college campuses with your family when you're an underclassman in high school. When you're traveling to an AJGT tournament, or on any other trip, swing by and see what the campus atmosphere is like at as many schools as you can. This is a very valuable experience.
15. Send color still and action photos to accompany your resume. A picture is worth a thousand words. If you can get a good swing video of yourself, it's worth the effort to have it done and send it out accompanying your resume. Take 5 or 6 shots of yourself hitting driver and a mid-iron both from a front shot and a "down the line" shot from behind you. Take 5 or 6 shots of you chipping from 50' or 60' with the camera set up behind the hole so that it shows you, the swing, the ball, and the cup. Take 5 or 6 shots of you attempting lag putts from 30', again setting up the camera from behind the cup and allowing the video to capture you, the movement and angle of the putter, the ball, and the cup. Take 5 or 6 shots, using the same angle, of you stroking 6' putts. Make sure that only 1 golf ball appears in each of these frames.
16. Make yourself as attractive as possible to as many college programs as possible by making the best grades you can. Take the ACT and/or SAT more than once and garner the best score(s) possible. Sometimes college coaches can use academic scholarship money as part of your overall scholarship package.
17. Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net.
18. If you really want to play college golf, then consider attending a school where you'll get an opportunity to play frequently and soon. It's not about where you go, it's about what you do with the opportunity once it's in your hands. Make the most of it. The PGA and LPGA are full of players who did not play Division I golf in college.
19. Keep believing in yourself, especially when things go badly on the course. Your own self-confidence and sense of purpose are your best allies.