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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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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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Ping Engineer Paul Wood explains how the G400 Max driver is so forgiving

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Paul Wood, VP of Engineering at Ping, joins our 19th Hole to discuss the new G400 Max driver, which the company calls the “straightest driver ever.” Also, listen for a special discount code on a new laser rangefinder.

Listen to this episode on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes.

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Opinion & Analysis

WATCH: How to Pull a Shaft from a Composite Club Head

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Composite club heads are increasing in popularity with golfers thanks to their technological and material advantages. For that reason, it’s important to know how to pull shafts from composite club heads without damaging them. This video is a quick step-by-step guide that explains how to safely pull a shaft from a composite club head.

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