1) Do research early
If you wait until your junior or senior year to start thinking about college golf, you will likely have already missed out on a number of opportunities. Coaches will either already be committed to other players or it will simply be too late for you to gain the experience necessary to be a strong candidate. Start to research college golf programs, paying special attention to the roster and player bio section, early in high school. This will give you a sense of the kind of experience you need to gain by your junior year.
2) Play in the right tournaments
Part of being a great recruit means having the tournament experience. Play in tournaments that will help you develop your game and demonstrate your level of play. Most D1 programs will look for national-level tournament results. Again, doing research early will help you get a better sense of which tournaments you should be playing in.
3) Be proactive
Don’t wait for coaches to contact you. Coaches are busy and recruiting is just one of the hats their wear. Most prospects need to reach out to initiate contact and advocate for themselves in order to gain interest from the coaches at their target schools.
4) Lead the process yourself
Coaches want to hear directly from the prospect -- not their parents, not their coach, and not a consultant. This is a preferable strategy for a few reason… 1) it allows prospects to develop a personal relationship with coaches, which is important because prospects will have a close relationship with their college coach, 2) it allows coaches to gauge whether a prospect’s interest in genuine, and 3) it provides prospects with the opportunity to develop their communication and self-advocacy skills.
5) Write a great introductory email
Again, coaches are busy. You might be able to write a great email, but if it’s too long or doesn’t contain certain key pieces of information up front, it can easily fall into the category of “too long, didn’t read”. Your introductory email should be your “elevator pitch” -- a concise email that contains only the essentials. Send your intro email at the end of sophomore year and again at the start of junior year.
6) Let the numbers talk
Your intro email should contain several key pieces of information, including your GPA, SAT or ACT scores, and a short golf resume that includes all of your tournament scores. Rather than telling your whole story in your first email, let these numbers speak for themselves and generate initial interest.
7) Be honest
On your resume and throughout the recruiting process, be honest with coaches and with yourself. Include all of your scores on your resume (even the high ones), tell coaches what other schools you are looking at (if they ask), and honestly ask yourself what you want (and really think about the answer).
8) Share your goals
Coaches care a lot about your prior results. They care even more about your future results, when you might be playing for them. One of the best ways to demonstrate your future potential is to talk about your goals: What drives you? What do you want to achieve in college (athletically and personally)? Why? This is one of the best ways to advocate with yourself.
9) Be respectful of a coach’s time
Coaches get hundreds and of emails and requests for meetings. Every time you send an email, call, or ask to meet, you are asking a coach to give you time. Know that you are doing this, and be respectful. Demonstrating this kind of awareness goes a long way.
10) This is about you
The college golf recruiting process is about you and what you want. Try not to lose sight of your goals and target schools. It feels good when coaches reach out and express their interest, but ultimately, what you want should to be what guides you.
11) Know that perfect is unrealistic
At the end of the day, “perfect” is probably unrealistic. Look for the school that offers the “best fit” overall.
More about Claire Sheldon, the founder of PSACC (Prospective Student-Athlete College Counseling)
Claire founded PSACC after spending three years as the Assistant Women’s Golf Coach at Harvard University. During her coaching career at Harvard, she assisted the Director of Golf in the recruiting process for both the men’s and women’s golf teams. She has seen first-hand what it takes to succeed in the recruiting process and as a Division I student-athlete. She is a former 4-year varsity golfer at Harvard, serving as captain her senior year. She set records for the lowest score in Harvard Women’s Golf history and still holds the record for most tournament wins. She also helped the golf team win 21 tournaments during her four years.
**You can contact Claire at http://www.psacollegecounseling.com or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.