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Opinion & Analysis

Why NCAA Division II, III and NAIA is a great option for women golfers

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This article was written in collaboration between Brendan Ryan and Estefania Acosta. To research more on the subject of college golf from these authors, please check out their book, The College Golf Almanac, that is now for sale on Amazon for $19.99.

Almost all junior girl golfers aspire to play for a team in college. However, many of these girls only set their eyes on the possibility of playing for a Division I team.

While being a Division I collegiate athlete is very impressive, players can often get the same, if not a more rewarding experience playing below the DI level. In my opinion, a junior player should never rule out the possibility of playing for a Division II, Division III, or NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes) college team. Even though the average scores may be higher in these divisions, players still get an opportunity to travel the country and play golf at a competitive level. And, as you will see in this post, these opportunities are much more abundant than you would think.

I took a look at the list of the 2016 Early Signees found on the National Junior Golf Scoreboard (NJGS). For this story, I will be examining girls that signed to DII, DIII, and NAIA schools and compare them with the National Junior Golf 2014 Class Ranking, as well as the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Using the data that I have collected, below is a bird’s eye view on what it takes to be recruited in these three divisions.

In 2016, 267 girls signed early to women’s teams, 39 of which signed to Division II schools. Thirty six of these girls were from the United States and six were international players. There were only three girls who signed to Division III teams and 11 girls who signed to NAIA teams, all of whom were from the United States. Because the number of girls who signed to DIII and NAIA schools was so small, I decided to average the NJGS rankings of DII, DIII, and NAIA early signees together. The average NJGS Ranking for these girls was 1343, which sets them out to have a scoring average of about 85. The average WAGR for the Division II early signees was 2158, meaning that international players held a scoring average of about 82.2. Therefore shooting in the mid-to-low 80s by the time a girl begins her recruitment process as a junior will give her a great shot at playing Division II, III, and NAIA golf.

Please note that these scoring and ranking averages are slightly skewed given the fact that 17 of the girls that signed to DII teams and 7 of the girls signed to NAIA teams were not ranked in either the NJGS or the WAGR

Golf is only one half of the student-athlete experience, however. After all, a player is always a student before they are an athlete. DII, III, and NAIA programs take this very seriously. Because there is less of an academic commitment as it relates to schools below the DI level, students have more of an opportunity to focus on their studies. Moreover, while it is of course expected that a player wants to be recruited to a team to follow her passion, a girl can use golf as a vehicle to get a better academic experience. The fact of the matter is that women’s DII programs can award 5.4 scholarships and NAIA programs can award 5 grants annually. So playing for a DII or NAIA school can make it a lot easier on the family finances. While DIII schools are not permitted to award scholarships, many of these schools are superb academic institutions. Mount Holyoke, Williams College, Ithaca College, Washington & Lee, and Washington University in Saint Louis are just a few colleges that offer Division III women’s golf. So if you happen to get contacted by a coach from one of these divisions, it is definitely worth taking a look at a school’s academic programs and standings before you before you cast it to the side.

All three of these collegiate divisions offer programs that are easier to play for than DI programs and still offer a superior level of play. Yet, despite the fact that there are 191 colleges with Division II women’s golf teams, 196 Division III women’s golf teams, and 138 NAIA women’s golf teams, many junior golfers believe that they are “too good” to play below the Division I level. As a result, they will earn a spot on a DI team, but remain on the practice squad for all four years.

Although it is indeed nice to say that you play on a DI team, being on the practice squad won’t necessarily make you a better golfer if you never actually getting an opportunity to travel. In his article on the NJGS website, Coach Brooks, a former Division II coach states:

“Competing is the key, and no player, regardless of team, will ever improve as a player if he is not a member of the team’s five-person traveling squad. Some Division I players, who face this exact situation, would be much better off as either Division II or Division III players.”

The fact of the matter is that players could probably get a more competitive college experience if they played for one of these schools. So don’t sell these schools short. You might be able to get a better experience at them than you’ve ever imagined.

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Estefania Acosta-Aguirre is a former college coach and player who has won an individual conference championship and two PGA Minority National Championship. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in International Business, and is a K-Vest, Flight Scope and Putting Zone Certified Coach. She is currently pursuing her masters in Sports Coaching at the University of Central Lancashire, as well as finalizing her second book due out in early 2018. You can follow her on Instagram at steph_acostacoaching

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Steve

    Oct 26, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    I believe its “athletic” and not “academic” typo

  2. Acemandrake

    Oct 15, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    “Because there is less of an academic commitment as it relates to schools below the DI level, students have more of an opportunity to focus on their studies.”

    Can someone explain this to me?

    Thanks!

  3. Walt Bismarck

    Oct 15, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Third wave feminism is cancer. Women belong at home with the family.

    • Genn

      Oct 15, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      Most ‘female’ pro golfers are trannies …. believe it

  4. M. Vegas

    Oct 15, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Everyone belongs where he/she will be appreciated and valued….
    Let’s stop the bullying

  5. 2putttom

    Oct 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    “many junior golfers believe that they are “too good” to play below the Division I level. As a result, they will earn a spot on a DI team, but remain on the practice squad for all four years…”

    This is fact based on my interactions with junior golf programs. Better to compete in a field/division where you’ll get noticed rather than be an egg in a carton.

    • ActualFacts

      Oct 15, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      @2putttom – Very well written… I don’t have anything constructive to add.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: St. James Bay Golf Club in Carrabelle, Florida

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day comes from GolfWRX member Bimmer1, who submitted St. James Bay Golf Club in Carrabelle, Florida as his gem of a course. Situated within the North Flordia pines, St. James Bay gets praised for both its value, quietness and excellent layout in Bimmer1’s description of the course.

“I’ve played this course for good prices over the years. Excellent and challenging layout.  I’ve been out there when there is almost no one on the course at all.  I often wonder how they have enough money to keep it in the shape they do.”

According to St. James Bay Golf Club’s website, those good prices range from $35-$59 in summer, while their winter rates drop into the $30-$45 range.

@GroupGolferFL

@StJamesBayGolf

@Porteous3187

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member evgolfer, who takes us to Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona. The course sits at the base of South Mountain, offering up some stunning scenic mountain views, and in his description of the track evgolfer praises the fair test that the course offers up to players of all levels.

“I love it because the price is always right as a City of Phoenix municipal course. The conditions are usually fairly decent. Also, the course presents a fair challenge to me as a high handicapper and still appeals to low caps. It is easily walkable. Not surrounded by houses, not overly tight or cramped. Designed by Gary Panks. Not overly penal.”

According to Aguila Golf Course’s website, in peak time, an 18 hole round can be booked for $29, with the rate rising to $44 should you wish to add a cart. While, off-peak the price drops to $34, which includes a cart.

@TheHectorRios

@VernonLorenz

@HSTuscon

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Opinion & Analysis

This stat indicates Tiger Woods will win major 15 in 2019

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For Tiger Woods’ fans, it’s been over 10 years waiting for his 15th major victory. Even with PGA Tour win No. 80, plenty are already looking ahead to next year’s major.

Looking into Tiger’s performance at the majors in 2018, and more recently the PGA Championship, there’s exciting news for his fans. Tiger briefly held the lead at this year’s Open Championship, only to finish in a tie for sixth. But, it’s his performance at the PGA Championship, when he stormed home for second place thanks to a final round 64, and the recent statistics behind that tournament, that will get his legion of supporters brimming with confidence.

Going back to 2015, strong performances at the PGA Championship have proven to be a great form line for the following year’s major winners. In fact, if you go back further into the records, it extends for several years prior as well. Let’s take a look at recent PGA Championship results and the players that emerged from those performances that lead to major victory the next year.

The 2017 PGA Championship was one of the strongest forms lines in recent years. Justin Thomas won the tournament by two shots, but Patrick Reed, and Francisco Molinari tied for second. Reed went on to win this year’s Masters and Molinari won the Open Championship to capture their first major championships.

At the 2016 PGA Championship, Jimmy Walker surprised the field with victory, but an emerging talent in Brooks Koepka finished tied for fourth and would go on to secure his 1st major in 2017 by winning the U.S. Open. Interesting, Patrick Reed and Francisco Molinari were also just outside the top-10.

The 2015 PGA Championship was won by Jason Day, but current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished tied for seventh. Dustin went on to win his first major, the U.S. Open, the following year at the Oakmont Country Club. Also worth noting: Jordan Spieth finished second to Jason Day and went close to winning the Masters the next year only to finish in second place.

Fast forward to this year’s PGA Championship where Tiger finished second behind Brooks Koepka. Is it a sign that his 10-year major drought could end in 2019? And don’t forget, if Tiger has a great chance in 2019, then surely players that finished around him in that tournament, such as Adam Scott, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland, must have high hopes for 2019 too?

All this is true and only time will tell if the tournament form line stacks up.

Anyway you look at the 2018 PGA Championship results, it’s a great form line for 2019, and Tiger could well be in the mix in the big ones next year. With his body coping well with the rigors of the tough PGA Tour circuit, Tiger Woods’ fans can be feeling good about his chances for the 2019 season.

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