It's a sad reality, but the overwhelming majority of high school golfers will not play varsity in college. The statistics have been stated frequently, but according to the NCAA only 5.8% of high school boys golfers will play in the NCAA, and 7.2% of girls. That leaves more than 90% of high school golfers left to wonder what to do next.
For those that didn't receive any NCAA varsity golf scholarships, I wanted to lay out some possible next steps for you. No matter what option you decide to pursue, don't give up golf. It's an amazing game that you will be able to play the rest of your life. You'll be able to play with your family, friends, coworkers, bosses, and even clients.
Four options to consider if you didn't receive an NCAA varsity golf scholarship:
- Club golf
Yes, I help run the NCCGA and am passionate about the subject of club golf. So while this might seem biased, please allow me to explain. For high school students that don't receive any golf scholarships, club golf can be a great way to stay competitive while in college. It allows golfers the unique opportunity to select their dream school, or a school that is highly ranked for their particular academic degree, and not have to compromise on golf. Club golf is at more than 400 colleges in the United States, and the process to start a new team is simple if you happen to attend a school without a club team.
Club golf is also still competitive. The Spring 2016 NCCGA National Championship fired a 66 in his second round at The Resort at Glade Springs, narrowly missing a course record. A club golfer also advanced to US Open sectional qualifying this past summer. And if you still have dreams of making it on the varsity team? The NCCGA has also seen at least four students play club golf one semester and make it on the varsity squad the next within the last two years.
- Junior College Golf
Playing junior college (JUCO) golf in the NJCAA is another good way to stay involved in competitive golf, and try again for a spot in the NCAA. JUCO provides competitive golf tournaments all across the country, allowing you to showcase your scores against other college students. It also allows you to be a part of a team with a coach, and in many cases earn a scholarship to help with school. You can get a jumpstart on your degree, or even start to figure out what you want to do in life. There are 191 NJCAA schools that provide a men's golf program, and 80 women's. View the schools here.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics basically serves as the NCAA for small and medium sized schools across the country. There are actually more schools in the NAIA fielding men's and women's golf teams than the NJCAA (325). Each NAIA team can provide up to five scholarships, and the team roster averages 8.5 players. The NAIA will provide a golfer with a competitive schedule, scholarship options, a team and coach, and a NCAA varsity golf-like atmoshpere. Similar to club golf and the NJCAA, it can provide a stepping stone to playing NCAA varsity golf later on.
While acknowledging this isn't an option at all schools, there are NCAA golf programs that allow walk-ons, or even have tryouts. Being a walk-on can be a great experience to improve your game, be a part of the team, and provide an avenue to impress the coach and work your way on scholarship. The downsides can be being buried on the roster, as well as the financial burdens. There are also very few walk-on opportunities available, and can be very competitive.
There's really no one best option to choose if you didn't receive an NCAA varsity golf scholarships. The best way to determine your path is to really evaluate what you want to do in the future. Is your goal to still play NCAA varsity golf before your college career is over? Is your goal to just play any level of varsity golf? Or do you just want to keep playing golf, and would be okay if it wasn't varsity. You also need to consider how far from home you want to live, what majors other schools offer, etc.
Good luck in whatever path you choose! Let us know if we can ever be of assistance.