The college education can put a big dent in the finances. A golf scholarship can help you get through the college and also get valuable experience and accolades in golf arena. Legendary golfers like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Hale Irwin and Ben Crenshaw kicked off their careers with golf scholarships. This is a highly competitive game and there will be a horde of golfers vying for the scholarship. We want to help you young golfers beat the crowd and get yourself on the frontline.
Golf scholarships depend on a number of factors. And you need to be proactive in your quest for the financial aid. Your talent needs to be showcased to the right people. You impress a coach, and you could be set for life. But golf scholarship might not cover all of your college expenses. Partial scholarships are more common. So you need to understand the mechanics of golf scholarships.
With that, we will give you pointers to create a full-fledged plan to get a golf scholarship. We try to cover all avenues for questions here like what golf scholarships entail, associations that hand out aid to golfers, eligibility for golf scholarship, your golf resume etc.. This will help you be more organized in your pursuit.
What You Will Need To Get A Golf Scholarship
#1. Good Golf Skills:
According to an estimate, there are about 150,000 male golfers and 75,000 female golfers fighting for a couple of thousand golf scholarships in the US. So you need to be exceptional at golf to get a scholarship. With people like Lexi Thompson turning pro at 15, you will be raging against the best golfers in the arena. But golf scores are not enough as you will find as you read on.
To get a golf scholarship, you need to prove yourself academically too, since it’s primarily for an academic institution you are seeking the financial aid for. Usually, the institutions set the GPA minimum for golf scholarships.
#3. Mental Strength:
Like we said before, the ability to play golf like a pro only makes up 50% of your on-course performance. The rest is all about how you handle the pressure. If you are crumbling mentally under the pressure of performance, even your top driving skills can rescue you.
The golf scholarship will not fall into your lap. You need to get out there and participate in golf tours. You need to show up at venues where coaches will be scouting for fresh talent. You have to build your repertoire to impress. You must be ready with the list of universities you are aiming at and should have the focus to target them.
Step By Step Instructions:
#1. About Athletic Golf Scholarships:
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Full golf scholarship or athletic scholarships are rare. Most of the golf scholarships are partial. A full athletic scholarship would include: tuition, room and board, some course fees like examination fee, amount for books. A partial golf scholarship will only cover a few of those expenses.
Under National Collegiate Athletic Association(NCAA), which regulates athletes and scholarships, there are two categories of sports: headcount and equivalency sports. In headcount sports, any amount for the scholarship counts towards the program’s numbers.
Golf is an equivalency sport. In such cases, coaches have a certain amount of money which can be split amongst the golfers as per the coach’s prerogative, provided they do not break the total scholarship value allowed in that sport. This is why coaches will rarely honor a golfer with full golf scholarship.
For example, each division is assigned a limited number of scholarships:
- Division I(D1) Men: 4.5 scholarships
But typical roster of Oklahoma state will hand out 10 scholarships.
So when 4.5 scholarships are divided amongst 10 recipients, some may end up getting cost of tuition, a few may get room and boarding while the rest may get the provision of books and supplies. D1 men’s scholarship is usually divided. But the D1 women have access to 6 scholarships. So it’s more likely that they’ll get full scholarships.
#2. College Golf Guidelines:
There are three major areas where the golf coaches will focus on before handing out a golf scholarship.
A. Golf Performance:
These are usual golf standards expected of a golfer for golf scholarship:
NCAA Division 1 Men
Scratch Handicapper with a score of 75 or below
NCAA Division 1 Women
0-5 handicap with a score of 78 or below
NCAA Division 2 Men
NCAA Division 2 Women
These are not hard-and-fast rules. The coach may pick you up based on your potential and other intricacies of your golf game.
B. GPA Requirements:
The GPA requirement for golf scholarship may vary from school to school. Although NCAA governs the basic rule for athletic aid, schools are the ones that dispose golf scholarship and fill out the rules. Always aim for a CGPA of 3 .0 or more for the safe side. You can check out the requirement of individual schools from their websites or university offices.
You must also make sure that you are taking all the courses required to get into college. Your school counselor can guide you better in this respect.
Golf coaches look at how well they can shape a young golfer’s career. They check out their temperament on the course. Even if the player does not have the perfect handicap, she/he may be picked for their potential.
#3. Tournament Experience:
Golf coaches rarely look at handicaps. While playing for the high school team is great, the real experience they are looking for is from tournaments. Look for local, state and national level tournaments which you can attend to boost your golf CV. Considering that the best golfers are winning LPGA tournaments at the age of 16, you need to make your presence felt.
Apart from your scores on these tours, golf coaches also look at how you handled the dilemmas during the game. They check if you can remain focused under public glare and scrutiny by the coaches.
#4. Beyond NCAA D1 And D2 Scholarships:
Most of the young golfers focus on D1 and D2 scholarships. Between D3 and NAIA, you have close to scholarship 400 programs. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics(NAIA) also offers scholarships on D1 and D2 levels. Student-athletes require specific SAT score and a minimum GPA of 2.0 to qualify.
Another option is the Nation Junior College Athletic Association(NJCAA) which awards full or partial scholarship. You can avail this golf scholarship while in community college. In two years time, you can move to an NCAA college, albeit it may be to stricter terms.
If you are a good golfer, you can create a targeted plan of where you want to end up. You can create a list of schools you want to go to based on proximity to home, city, academic credentials of the school, level of golf coach an program, campus, ability to fund the golf scholarships etc..
As you go through high school, you might change your priorities.
#6. Being Proactive:
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Since the D1, D2 scholarships are scored by only the top 1-2% golfers, you can set yourself up for success by being proactive. Nowadays you can commit to a university right in the junior year. NCAA rules allow the prospective student-athletes to visit the campuses and talk to coaches except at specific times. You can start visiting when you are as young as 13.
As long as you respect the NCAA restrictions on talking to the coaches in prospective universities, you can discuss the golf program and the school from the coaches. While the coaches may reach out to you around 11th grade, getting their attention a little early is great for those aiming for golf scholarships.
You can start your quest right from the ninth grade onwards. Don’t delay it any later than 10th grade. Golf tournaments are often held near the campuses which promote golf programs. So when you participate in tournaments, you can learn more about the programs and get noticed by their coaches.
#7. Being Realistic:
Ambition is a great motivator. But you should have a Plan B. Be realistic about your current golfing skill. Set your sights high but also shortlist schools that have golf programs that fit your current golf talent. College education can rake up quite the bill. Any overconfidence should not cost you an opportunity in a lower division. Which again brings us to the point that you shouldn’t ignore D3 and NAIA golf scholarships.
Do not push the prospective student-athlete too hard to perform to a certain level. And do not exaggerate their ability to a coach. It can be counter-productive.
Handling academics and golf parallelly is difficult. But it is doable. For any university and golf coach, you are a student first and athlete next. Coaches always go for golfers who can juggle both. Student-athletes will lose time to tournaments and practice. Especially during tournament season, they will be hard-pressed for time. In a usual college week, you will be devoting 20 hours to golf and 12 hours of classes. The rest of the time goes into assignments and daily
#9. Pro Tips:
There are a few questions that you can ask the coaches to learn better about the golf scholarship you are applying to:
1. Does the NCAA division I and II golf program that you applying to, award the maximum allowed scholarships annually?
Unless the golf programs are fully-funded, the program might not award all scholarships allowed to them. Often budget constraints and institutional vision amount to little or no golf scholarship. Make sure to ask the golf coach about their awarding pattern during the recruitment process. This way you can scope which universities are more likely to provide more and higher golf scholarships.
2. Can coaches award multi-year scholarships through these programs?
Yes, coaches can award multi-year scholarships and they are not allowed to reduce the scholarship already awarded in the next academic year. They are allowed to increase it though. If the scholarship is reduced or canceled during a student athlete's college duration, she/he can appeal to the university committee.
3. Do coaches award a specific sum as the scholarship or a percentage of funds?
Coaches can either give out a specific dollar amount or promise a percentage of the fund. You can clarify this from the coach during the recruitment process.
4. Do non-athletic scholarships count against the NCAA scholarship?
NCAA is flexible in such cases and leaves the decision to the university. You should ask the coach and the university to know which scholarships are countable and whether they can be accepted along with your golf scholarship. Because sometimes these countable scholarships will violate the team’s limit. In case a program has not reached its maximum funds, the student-athlete may be allowed to avail a countable scholarship from outside.
It’s always great to create a video displaying your golf skills. You can attach it to your mails to the coaches. You can simply put it on YouTube and wait for it to go viral.
Here’s a good example:
The golf scholarships remain surrounded by cut-throat competition. The earlier you get a start on the process, the higher your chances of making an informed decision are. The process can mature with you and lead to a better future than you initially expected. You need to get out in the competitive tournaments on state, regional and national level and attract attention to your talent. But it’s important to focus on your studies too. Scholarships are meant to aid you in your studies. Golf is a passion and the instrument to fund your education here.
It’s often possible to lose sight of your options with NCAA D1, D2 golf programs getting so much hype. But there are plenty of other golf scholarships that can fund your studies. After all, some financial aid is better than no financial aid. Aim for holistic development of your game, mind and academics. Pair it with good research on your prospective schools and possible options. Getting a golf scholarship will look like a more achievable mission if it’s properly planned out.