Attending college on a golfing scholarship is a dream for many young aspiring American golfers, but with thousands of top amateurs around the world also clamoring for one of these spots, attaining a scholarship is not easy.
As of 2021, there are a total of 1,318 schools, and 972 of these schools offer full and partial athletic scholarships.
However, the important thing to understand here is that these schools are bound by an “equivalency method,” meaning their sporting departments and coaching teams are required to distribute the money evenly among all sports, not just golf.
It is true that NCAA Div 3 schools cant offer scholarships, although they do fund their programs through other means and, to some extent, can still provide athletic aid.
As of August 2020, the NCAA D1 Council passed legislation that programs can no longer count on the money and aid needed by students for academia and count that against the total amount of the scholarship offered.
Prior to this rule change, student-athletes were required to jump through several hoops to ensure their academic and financial needs would not count against their athletic scholarships.
What this means is that more money should be available for golf schools to provide athletes and families in need a chance for greater opportunities. Although golf teams are still subject to the maximum scholarship cap, student-athletes can look to add as much aid as they require.
Steps to Getting a Golf Scholarship
- 1 Steps to Getting a Golf Scholarship
- 2 What is my Chance of Being Offered a golf Scholarship?
- 3 4 Important Steps to get a D1 Scholarship
- 4 Top Colleges for Golf Scholarships
- 5 The Final Hole
Compared to other sports like baseball and football, golf teams are much smaller in size, with the average team comprising of ten players.
There are a few reasons why golf scholarships are hard to come by, with the main one being that although the average team has ten members, only five golfers travel to each tournament, and only four of those five actually tee it up.
What this means is that college coaches are really only likely to offer full scholarships to the top 5-6 players, with the other members being offered partial aid.
This is why it’s so important for potential student-athletes to thoroughly research their sport and understand the requirements, rules, and regulations that need to be met.
Now here’s a little secret I’m going to let you in on; many of the top coaches use a simple yet effective equation to help them determine which athletes they’ll be targeting for full scholarships. The equation goes as follows; coaches work out the average score of the players they’re targeting and subtract it by two.
So, for example, if the total of the four golfers is 300, that equates to an average score of 75 for each of the four golfers. The sports team will then use the two-shot subtraction, which means the coach will be targeting athletes with an average score of 73 or better. This equation is not 100% foolproof, but it provides students with a guide as to what coaches are looking for.
It’s also an excellent way for coaches and schools to streamline their programs and make sure the money is being used as effectively as possible. Students can use this data to research schools that are a good fit and in line with their average score; there’s no use applying for a scholarship at a school with an average score of 72 if you’re averaging 77.
Finally, it’s essential to know that these scores are typically calculated from courses of a minimum of 6,600 yards in length.
Understand the NCAA Division Levels
The first and foremost essential bit of research you need to undertake is to get to know how the NCAA divisions actually work. Far too often, students are left disappointed and heartbroken because they failed to research the basic requirements of the school they applied for.
Things to research are which of the divisions offer scholarships and the scores those schools require. Men’s golf offers scholarships in Div 1, 2, NAIA, and even junior colleges.
Understand the Academic Requirements
Although you are applying for an athletic scholarship, showing coaches that you have an exceptionally high GPA will drastically increase your chances of being successful. Most coaches these days are looking for well-rounded golfers, meaning they have low-scoring averages and are also well educated, and have high moral standards.
Building an Online Presence
Building an online presence and profile is one of the best ways to increase your chance of attaining a full-golf scholarship. Take advantage of social media and make sure you’re continually posting things like videos of your swing and tournament results. Coaches and schools are very busy, and it’s impossible for them to see every potential recruit. You’re much more likely to be recognized and hopefully approached by building your online profile.
Playing in as many Tournaments as Possible
There’s probably no better way than making yourself present at tournaments when it comes to getting exposure for a golfing scholarship. As a coach, I can tell you that the one metric coaches value most over others is tournament results and state and national rankings.
The primary reason is that high school courses are much easier when compared to courses used for college events and other significant tournaments like the US Amateur. Colleges courses are generally much longer and are set-up with heavy rough, lightning-quick greens, and challenging pin-placements.
Overlaying academic results with golf averages and tournament performances gives the coach a much better understanding of the recruit they’re looking for.
Keep an Open Mind
Although it’s every young golfer’s dream of getting a full scholarship at one of the best colleges in the nation, the reality is they are tough to come by. Unless you’re one of the best junior golfers in America or internationally, you can probably forget about a scholarship at schools like Stanford University, the University of Florida, and Texas A&M.
This is why it’s critical that you’re realistic with your expectations and don’t limit yourself to a selected number of schools. Yes, your main priority is golf but attending university requires much more than playing golf. Academics, coaching staff, location, budget, and your potential place within the team are just some of the factors you need to consider.
There are some excellent golf schools at all levels of the NCAA, and I know a number of young golfers and tennis players who have had successful and fulfilling college careers at schools they never even considered.
What is my Chance of Being Offered a golf Scholarship?
Across the NCAA division, all the way to junior colleges, there are a total of 1,318 teams with close to 12,000 male golfers primed in competition. Now, if you go into detail and break those numbers down even further, you can see just how tough it is to get a scholarship.
Look at schools that actually offer golf scholarships. You’ll find that 8,300 golfers are competing for only 4,545 scholarships, so the chance to get a scholarship is definitely a possibility, but as you can see, it’s now been cut in half.
So if you’re serious about getting a scholarship, students are encouraged to build an online profile, play as many big tournaments as possible and actively reach out to college coaches and recruiting staff.
4 Important Steps to get a D1 Scholarship
We all know that the NCAA Divison is the pinnacle of college sports in America, and because of this, it’s almost the most competitive when it comes to getting a scholarship. Whether its golf, tennis, basketball, or baseball, athletes aspiring to this level need to start their development as early as possible
The vast majority of the Division 1 golf schools recruit players in person by visiting their homes and discussing the finer details with the players and their parents. Remember what I mentioned earlier: although there are ten members on each golf team, only 5-6 are offered scholarships.
Let’s take a look at four critical steps that can help you secure that D1 scholarship you’ve always hoped for.
1. Research, Research, Research
Parents and students need to undertake ample research in the years leading up to recruiting time to ensure that the school is a match for both golfing and education. Visiting the websites of the schools you’re thinking of applying to and gathering information like on-course scoring average will help give you a better idea of what’s required. Keep in mind that most golfers competing in Division 1 average scores in the low 70s.
2. State and National Rankings
The most important factor that coaches look at is the state, national and international rankings of potential recruits. Players must compete in the nation’s biggest tournaments like the United States Amateur, conducted by the United States Golf Association.
Players are forced to qualify for these events through the American Junior Golf Association, the Future Collegian World Tour, and the International Junior Golf Tour.
The downside is that these tournaments are incredibly expensive and require a considerable amount of travel and costly hotel stays. Another alternative is to find local junior tournaments in your surrounding area or play in higher-level competitions conducted by your local club or state and governing body.
3. Develop an Online Profile
I know we’ve already discussed this strategy, but when it comes to Division 1, you need to take advantage of every avenue you can to get yourself known. Building an online profile makes it more likely you’re going to be discovered by potential schools, particularly if you have a high state or national ranking.
Your online profile should include things like national ranking, playing experience, and videos; don’t forget to include videos of your driver, long irons, bunker play, short game, and putting. Being pro-active shows coaches that you’re willing to work for what you want and are passionate about following your golfing dream.
4. Don’t Forget to Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center
The final and possibly most important thing new recruits are required to do is register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Here, the center will determine the eligibility needed for the student-athlete solely based on the course requirements, test scores, and grades.
Typically, college coaches are always on the lookout for student-athletes who are well-rounded in terms of athletic and academic ability. Quite simply put, if two golfers are averaging the same on-course scores but one has higher test grades, the coach would be silly not to choose the player who excels academically.
My advice is to work just as hard on your academic skills as you do on your golf game; granted, this is easier said than done, but nothing in life worth working for is ever easy; work your butt off, and you can make anything happen.
Top Colleges for Golf Scholarships
Below you will find a list of some of the best men’s college golf schools across all divisions nationwide. If you are looking to study and play golf at any of these prestigious schools, make sure you do your research on grades, requirements, eligibility, on-course averages, and tournament rankings.
Remember, Division 1 college coaches are looking closely at your state, national and international rankings. Divisions 2 and 3 also look at these stats as well as academic achievements and grade scores.
NCAA Division 1
- University of Michigan
- Stanford University
- University of Florida
- Duke University
- University of North Carolina
NCAA Division 2
- Rollins College
- Bellarmine University
- Bentley University
- Western Washington University
- University of California/ San Diego
- California State
- Regis University
NCAA Division 3
- Washington and Lee University
- Swarthmore University
- New York University
- Williams College
- Emory University
- Amherst University
- The College of Idaho
- Taylor University
- Robert Morris University
- Oklahoma City University
- Huntington University
- University of St. Thomas / Texas
- Asbury University
The Final Hole
Getting a golf scholarship is no easy task, but I’m here to tell you that you can do anything you dream of if you set your mind to it. I’ve coached several golfers and tennis players who have had very successful college careers, with a couple even progressing through to the pro ranks.
Be sure to do your research and discuss things with your parents because college is not just about playing golf. Good luck, and we wish you all the best on your college journey.
Happy college golfing!