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Stop Bothering Me! Why NCAA golf coaches already get too many emails

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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.

Are you a future college golfer or parent who is stressed out about the process of finding a school? Tired of sending emails and not getting a response? Unsure what to do next?

Good news, in this article we are going to show you why proper research and the subject of your email are the keys to you playing college golf!

To help parents, coaches and junior golfers in the process, I did a survey of 100+ college coaches trying to understand the recruiting process from their perspective. To help, I asked them, via an online survey on Facebook their thoughts on the following questions:

  1. What level of golf do you coach?
    2. What gender do you coach?
    3. How many incoming emails do you get per day?
    4. What percent of emails come from recruiting companies?
    5. What percent of emails from recruits are of interest to you?
    6. What is the most important thing you look for on a resume?

What Coaches told Us

Of the coaches who responded, we had 76 percent from Division I institutions, 15 percent from Division II institutions, 4 percent from Division III institutions, 2 percent from NJCAA institutions and 3 percent from NAIA institutions. Also, 74 percent of the respondents coached men’s college golf and 26 percent of the respondents coached women’s college golf.

Of these coaches…

  • 22 percent got up to 3650 emails per year
  • 15 percent got between 3650-5475 emails per year
  • 16 percent got between 5840-7300 emails per year
  • 4 percent got between 7665-9125 emails per year
  • 24 percent got between 9490-18250 emails per year
  • 19 percent got over 18615 emails per year

Among Division I coaches, 87 percent of respondents noted that less than 10 percent of the emails they received interested them, with higher-ranked schools moving closer to 1 percent or not at all. So, for the coach getting 3650 emails per year, about 360 of them are getting responses, however a response is not necessarily
going to lead to a spot. Those getting responses need to understand that beyond those students who are sending emails, the coach is probably chasing another 200-300 students. This means the odds of converting the email into a scholarship opportunity is probably close to 1 in 300+.

In the data collection, we also asked college coaches what percent of the emails are coming from “recruiting services,” and 27 percent of coaches are getting less than 10 percent from recruiting services, while 38 percent of coaches are getting up to 25 percent, 23 percent are getting up to 50 percent, and 12 percent are getting more than 50 percent of their emails from recruiting services.

The last question we asked coaches, is “what are you looking for on a resume?” This is maybe the most important question since, if you’re one of the 43 percent of coaches getting approximately 10,000 emails or more, you’re probably not looking at the resume very long. Not surprisingly, 92 percent of coaches listed scores, with 23 percent of schools also listing academics.

What the Data Tells Us

Parents, coaches and student athletes need to use resources available including our previous articles on GolfWRX, as well as research on school’s websites. The process of looking at schools should include:

1. Going on the team’s website to see how many players will graduate
2. Check the scoring average of the best 3 players. Average it. If you are at that or better, then you have a chance. If not, consider other schools.
3. Check the NJGS rankings of their players from the previous year, do you fall within 10 percent of them? How does your scoring differential compare to theirs?
4. Ask yourself, are you at least at the average SAT of the school?
5. Ask yourself, can you afford at least 60 percent of the cost of attendance (for boys) of the school?

If you answer yes to all the questions, you have a fit and should email the school with your information, including your NJGS ranking and SAT in the subject line. If you don’t have a yes to these, then start over until you do, as these are the schools that are highly likely to respond.

The data collected in this survey shows that up to 90 percent of people are not looking in the right place which points to a combination of lack of information, poor feedback and in some cases pure narcissism. The fact is that there are 300 Division I teams, each are going to take about 2 players per year, that means you need to be in the top 600 players in the world.

The fact is that today’s college players, especially at major conference schools are ridiculously good. Don’t believe me? Well the University of Arkansas women’s golf team is a combined 57-under par for their first two events and the University of Florida men’s team boast 4 current players or recruits within the top 52 players in the WAGR (Tosti, Axelson, Hong and Zhang), as well as the No. 1 player from NJGS in 2017 (Lee).

The results also demonstrate that 35 percent of coaches are getting significant amounts of emails from “recruiting services.” If you are signing up for these services, BEWARE; some coaches are getting up to 2000 emails per year from these services. I will let you figure out the odds this will turn into an opportunity for you (Hint: it rhymes with hero).

Concluding Thoughts

When considering college sport, it is important to see the value of the experience; playing sport keeps young people engaged and allows them to build valuable developmental assets like time management and leadership. It also gives them the opportunity to get up to 50+ tournaments of experience, which can prove transformational. In my opinion these opportunities are a fantastic reason to choose college sport over other opportunities.

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Brendan Ryan is a golf researcher, writer, coach and entrepreneur. Golf has given him so much in his life -- a career, amazing travels, great experiences and an eclectic group of friends -- and he's excited to share his unique experience through his writing on GolfWRX. He hopes you enjoy!

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. KCCO

    Oct 25, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    I know it’s kind of apples to oranges, but I played baseball at a very (I guess you would call it) a highly regarded baseball high school, among others in surrounding area. I think colleges, and major league scouts were way ahead of who they were looking at as if you are that good, you are already on everyone’s list. We had kids giving their word and getting partial contracts their junior year. Some made it, some didn’t. The same goes for colleges. They knew who was good enough as there is such a small percentage. Again it’s not golf, but being it’s a smaller sample as baseball is more dominant they know who they are looking at. Not saying it’s not worth trying, but if your in top 500 in the country, they are aware. Top 100 your already being spoken too. Just my .02

  2. emb

    Oct 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I doubt Coaches getting that many emails just from jr golfers. That many emails total maybe, but only a small percentage of the total from jr golfers. I played D1 golf and I agree with the 5 recommendations the author gives on which schools you email, but dont be afraid to shoot high. Once you have a good template created you can fire off dozens of emails in a short period of time and it doesn’t cost anything to send an email, the worst thing that can happen is they don’t respond. In which case, most people aren’t getting responses so don’t worry. In the end, practicing hard and getting the best results possible matters more than sending a good email. Play good golf and the rest will sort itself out.

  3. alexdub

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Maybe they are counting their spam emails too?

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Jason Day’s performance coach, Jason Goldsmith, joins the 19th hole

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In this episode of the 19th Hole, Jason Goldsmith of FocusBand talks about how the breakthrough technology has helped PGA Tour stars Jason Day and Justin Rose to major wins. Also, host Michael Williams gives his take on Tiger Woods’ return to golf.

Click here to listen on iTunes!

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Courses

Ari’s Course Reviews: Oakmont Country Club

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Editor’s Note: Ari Techner is a well-traveled, golf-course connoisseur who’s setting out to review the best golf courses in the world. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are his own. 

Oakmont Country Club. The name alone strikes fear into the heart of any mortal golfer. Oakmont has a reputation for difficulty unmatched in the golf world; it’s fear forged in the public’s eye while watching best players in the world struggle during the U.S. Open every 10-plus years or so. There is a notion that Oakmont could hold a U.S. Open just about any day of the year. This is not a course that needs to be tweaked from its daily setup to test the best in the world.

All that said, a close look at the course reveals that there is so much more to Oakmont than just difficulty. Since around 1950, MANY courses have been built with the dilebrate intention of holding a U.S. Open. Most, if not all, of these courses are filled with water hazards, extremely long holes and very little variety. Oakmont is the exact opposite of that, and this is what is at the core of its greatness.

A view from the ninth fairway

Oakmont Country Club first opened in 1903 and was designed by Henry Fownes, who built it because he felt the other courses around Pittsburgh were not difficult enough. The course was constantly tweaked in the early years by Fownes and his son William. Both Fownes were accomplished players with William winning the U.S. Amateur in 1910 and serving as the playing captain of the first U.S. Walker Cup team in 1922.

Trees, or no trees?

The 18th tee

The course was extremely influential in the development of early golf courses in America. It was equally influential in future years by setting trends that have changed the way many other courses have evolved. When Oakmont opened, it was built in an open field and had no trees on the course, adding to the links-like flavor that Fownes wanted from his visits overseas. In the 1950s (after all the Fownes had left the club) Oakmont added thousands of non-native trees to line the corridors of the holes, a look that was a heavy trend of the time. This work was mostly done by Robert Trent Jones, who also modified the bunkers to fit more of his style of the time.

The course continued to evolve over the years with the bunkers being restored by Tom Fazio… but the trees remained. In preparation for the 2008 U.S. Open, Oakmont cut down thousands of trees, returning the course to its open, windswept origins. This was very controversial among the members, and much of the work was done in the middle of the night in the off-season so as not to cause a big stir. After 2008, thousands more trees have been cut down, opening all of the amazing long views across the property. You can see almost every hole on the property from just about every spot on the course. Oakmont was the first course to embrace this massive tree removal and it has turned into a trend with hundreds of classic courses removing their non-native trees and going back to their more open original layouts.

Oakmont is the only course that Fownes designed and I believe that contributes greatly to its uniqueness. Fownes’ version of difficulty did not include artificial water hazards, out of bounds or excessive bunkering fronting greens, and it did not rely simply on longer-than-average holes to challenge the golfer. Instead, it has an amazingly varied mix of holes that challenge the golfer in a variety of ways both mentally and physically. Overall, the course requires you to be a straight driver of the ball, a good iron player and to have a deft short game and putting touch. You also need to be able to think your way around the course while you execute the shots you choose at a high level.

A good variety

Oakmont has its share of length with long par 4s, such as hole Nos. 1, 10, 15 and 18, the monster par-5 12th and long par 3s such as Nos. 8 and 16.  What sets the course apart to me, however, are the short holes and the holes that require strategic decision-making off the tee. These include short par 4s such Nos. 2, 11 and 17 and mid-length par 4s including Nos. 5 and 14.  These holes can be just as difficult as the long ones, and they require a completely different skill set.  The short par-3 13th and short par-5 9th (plays as a par 4 for the U.S. Open) round out what is an amazing set of shorter holes.

A view of the ninth fairway from across the Pennsylvania Turnpike

The course uses the natural movement of the site very well and has a tight, extremely walkable routing despite being bisected by the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the bottom of the hill in the middle of the property. I particularly love the fallaway greens at 1, 10, 12, and to a lesser degree 3 and 15 where the front of the green is higher than the back. This is a unique look that you do not see in the USA very often. Without the little backboard that a back-to-front sloping green provides, you must hit the ball solid or execute a well played run-up shot to hold the green. The short par 4s temp the long hitter just enough to make them think about hitting driver, but wayward shots are punished enough to make most think twice. The 17th, at a little under 300 yards, could be the hardest hole on the course, and yet it is definitely drivable for the right player who hits a great drive. The small and extremely narrow green requires a short shot be hit the perfect distance if you decide to lay up to the right down the fairway. Hit it even a little short and you end up in the aptly named “Big Mouth” bunker which is extremely deep. Hit it a hair long or with not enough spin to hold the green and you end up rolling over the green into one of a few smaller bunkers. Carry the bunkers on the left side off the tee into the sliver of fairway up by the green and you have a short, open shot from a much better angle into the fatter part of the green. Such risk/reward and great use of angles is paramount to Oakmont’s genius.

Green complexes are…complex

The green on the 18th hole

Oakmont also sports one of the best sets of greens anywhere in the world.  They are all heavily contoured and very challenging, yet playable. You can certainly make putts out there if you are putting well, but get on the wrong side of the hole and you are left with an extremely difficult, but rarely impossible 2 putt. They are also very unique due to Fownes only designing one course, as they do not look like any other classic course; they have a feel all their own. They are mostly open in front, coming from the correct angle, and they have many squarish edges. They also cut the tight fringe far back into the fairway, which aids in run-up shots; it also gives a great look where the green and the fairway blend together seamlessly.

The bunkering is also very unique and very special… and they are true hazards. Find yourself in a fairway bunker off the tee, and you are likely wedging out without much of any chance of reaching the greens. The green-side bunkers are fearsome, very deep and difficult. The construction of the bunkers is unique too — most of them have very steep and tall faces that were built up in the line of play. Oakmont is also home to one of the most famous bunkers in golf; the “Church Pews” bunkers — a large, long rectangular bunker between the fairways of holes 3 and 4 with strips of grass in the middle like the pews in a church. There is also a smaller “Church Pews” bunker left of the fairway off the tee on hole 15. Hit it into one of these two bunkers and good luck finding a descent lie.

Ari’s last word

All-in-all, along with being one of the hardest courses in the world, Oakmont is also one of the best courses in the world. It is hard enough to challenge even the best players in the world day-in and day-out, but it can easily be played by a 15-handicap without losing a ball. It is extremely unique and varied and requires you to use every club in your bag along with your brain to be successful. Add that to a club that has as much history as any other in the county, and Oakmont is one of golf’s incredibly special places.

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Courses

Coming Up: A Big Golf Adventure

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My name is Jacob Sjöman, and I’m a 35-year-old golf photographer who also enjoys the game we all love. I will be sharing some experiences here on a big golf trip that we are doing. With me I’ve got my friend Johan. I will introduce him properly later, but he is quite a funny character. According to Johan, he is the best golf photo assistant in the world, and we will see about that since this is probably his biggest test yet doing this trip. Previously on our trips, Johan almost got us killed in Dubai with a lack of driving skills. He also missed a recent evening photo shoot in Bulgaria while having a few beers too many… and that’s not all.

Anyway, the last couple of days I’ve been packing my bags over and over. I came home from the Canary Islands this Sunday and I’ve been constantly checking and rechecking that we’ve got all the required equipment, batteries, and that the cameras are 100 percent functional and good to go for this golf trip. I’m still not sure, but in a couple of minutes I will be sitting in a taxi to the airport and there will be no turning back.

Where are we going then? We are going to visit some of the very best golf courses in New Zealand and Australia. There will be breathtaking golf on cliffsides, jaw-dropping scenic courses, and some hidden gems. And probably a big amount of lost balls with a lot of material produced in the end.

I couldn’t be more excited for a golf journey like this one. Flying around the globe to these special golf courses I’ve only dreamed about visiting before gives me a big kick and I feel almost feel like a Indiana Jones. The only thing we’ve got in common, though, is that we don’t like snakes. Australia seems to be one of the worst destinations to visit in that purpose, but all the upsides are massive in this.

First, we will take off from a cold Stockholm (it’s raining heavily outside at the moment) and then we will do our first stop at Doha in Quatar. Then after two more hours, we are finally heading off to Auckland on the north island of New Zealand, a mega-flight of 16 hours. I believe that could very well be one of the longest flights available for a ordinary airplane. I need to check that.

Flights for me usually mean work, editing photos from different golf courses I’ve visited, writing some texts, editing some films, and planning for the future. Last time, though, I finally managed to sleep a little, which is a welcome progress for a guy that was deadly scared of flying until 2008.

Now, I am perfectly fine with flying. A few rocky flights over the Atlantic Sea to Detroit helped me a lot, and my motto is now, “If those flights got me down on the ground safely, it takes a lot of failures to bring down a plane.”

Anyway, I hope you will join me on this golf trip. Stay tuned!

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