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Opinion & Analysis

The effect that the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf



The current NCAA rules allow students to make unofficial visits any time, and make official visits (definitions for “visits” at the bottom of the article) starting September 1 of the player’s Senior year. Over the past five years, these unofficial visits have started earlier and earlier, as the sport has started to experience younger athletes making commitments. Last week that rule changed; the new rule, effective immediately, will prevent student athletes from making visits involving athletic staff before September 1 of their junior year, however coaches will be able to pay for official visits starting September 1 of the players Junior year.

In summation:

  • Old Rule: Prospective Student Athletes (PSA) can make unofficial visits any time. They can make official visits starting September 1 of their Senior year of High School.
  • New Rule: Effective immediately, PSA cannot meet on campus with a coach until September 1 of their Junior Year, however coaches can start to pay for official visits starting September 1 of the prospective student athlete’s junior year.

The adoption of this legislation signals a major paradigm shift in recruiting among college coaches. Data collected by GolfWRX,suggests that not all coaches support the new rule, however. Through an online, optional survey, GolfWRX was able to collect feedback from 60 NCAA Men’s and Women’s coaches; 51 percent of respondents identified themselves as women’s coaches, and 49 percent of respondents identified themselves as men’s coaches.

The first question we asked coaches: “Are you in favor of the resolution which prevents players from visiting before September 1 of their Junior year?” In response, 51 percent of respondents suggested they where in favor, including Bradley women’s coach Mary Moan.

“The more time we can give athletes to explore their options thoughtfully the better,” Moan said. “There is such an urgency to verbally commit that players may not be making the best choice with the limited information they have. In the long run, this rule, allows players to mature and have more time to explore options.”

The second question we asked coaches: “Do you think the rule will prevent early commitments?” Nearly 60 percent of respondents said, “No.” According to comments collected anonymously as part of the survey, many coaches think the legislation will simply nudge coaches to use other methods to interact with recruits, such as camps. Steve Runge, the Head Men’s Coach at University of Central Arkansas and former college standout at Ohio State said, “while you want to do what’s right for the student athlete, it is important that coaches keep to the intention of the rule and allow young people the time to properly develop, as well as explore all their options”.

As a former college coach myself, and someone with an academic training and strong interest in behavioral economics, it will be interesting to see the long-term impact of the rule. Colleagues in other sports where this legislation has been adopted have suggested similar rules in their sports have not been overly effective, as coaches simply have more camps and clinics where they can not only interact with younger players but can also make money. The new rule also opens potential interference from either club reps/apparel reps, college advisors, high school coaches and swing instructors who could look to capitalize on the later time table, acting as middle men in the recruitment process.

While the rules do take a step towards protecting PSA from making decisions early, they don’t fully address the problem facing the typical recruit, which is the issue of bad information. At the root of the issue is the lack of useful information for PSA, their families and coaches. It’s important for PSA to use a wide range of resources to help them make the best choice for them and thirr future.

As the rule nudges visits after September 1 of players Junior Year, it may also have a fiscal and scheduling impacts. These visits, funded fully or in part by the college or university, have been significantly decreasing as the time table for players have moved up. Shifting the timing back makes it more likely they will again be a part of both recruiting, as well as a line item in budgets. For some schools, this will mean they can make less investment in the student athlete experience. The rule may also have a significant impact on Fall schedules as many schools such as Norte Dame, Stanford and Alabama look to make sure they can entertain their best recruits on major football weekends.

One cannot help but applaud the intentions of the NCAA; to serve the best interest of the student athlete. However, one can question their understanding of the process; while coaches need to be held accountable, so do college advisors, media outlets, agents, industry reps and others. This rule does nothing to better frame their roles and accountability in the process and it is my feeling that until that happens, it will be much of the same.

In the future there is also talk of other significant rules changes. New legislation likely to become effective in early August will limit the days coaches can recruit off-campus to 45 days. To put this in perspective, when I coached at the University of Kentucky, I recruited approximately 150 days per year. Cutting those days by a third will handcuff coaches; they will need to make quicker decisions, which could result in earlier offers with shorter windows to accept. It could also lead to a lot of offers on players who coaches have not watched, which over the long term could lead to an increase in transfers.

Another potential rule will limit recruiting during the month of December, allowing coaches to have more of a break during the holidays. During my 8 years of college coaching, I was never home once at Christmas. Instead I was at either Doral, the South Beach Amateur, the Orange Bowl or watching National teams at training camps. I can therefore appreciate how this can impact the quality of family life, however, I think the rule will have significant consequences for the late developer who uses tournaments like the AJGA Senior Showcase and Doral (both in December) to demonstrate to coaches their skill. This is particularly true for players from outside the United States, who might not be as savvy with the NCAA rules.


  • Unofficial Visit: when the recruit, and their family, pay for all costs associated with visiting a school. During the visit the prospective student athlete can meet coaches and teams, as well as tour academic and athletic facilities within a 30-mile radius.
  • Official Visit: When the athletic department pay for part or all the cost associated with the trips for the student athlete. The parents must pay their own costs.
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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf



  1. MIKE

    May 2, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Well written article but I think it misses the point that this is only a D1 rule change. Both D2 and D3 allow unofficial at any time. D2 allows official starting June 15 after sophomore year. D3 allows official starting Jan 1 of junior year.

  2. Gregg grost

    May 1, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    New rule change the landscape but recruiting calendar in Div I is the game changer….

  3. 2putttom

    Apr 30, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    don’t call me, I’ll call you

  4. squeezefade

    Apr 30, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Still won’t prevent college coaches from finding ways to meet with recruits on campus before Sept. 1 of their junior year. Host a golf prospect camp, invite Fr. and So. recruits, and talk/tour recruits when they are there for the camp. I’d be surprised if this isn’t done already.

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Unlocking Your Golfing Potential: How to train harder to make golf feel easy



If you want to make playing golf easier, you need to take a look at how you train.

Dropping down unlimited golf balls on the range simply isn’t like what we face on the golf course. When you look at other sports, their practice and training is very difficult. They make the training physically exhausting and mentally challenging so that when it’s game time, it seems easy. Listen into this episode so you can learn how to do that for your golf game.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Club Building 101: Understanding epoxy



There are three main components to a golf club: head, shaft, grip–but what keeps the head from flying off while traveling over 100 mph?  One of the most under appreciated pieces of every club, epoxy!

This video explains a few simple things to pay attention for when using, mixing, or adding things to epoxy as well, as a few tips for those looking to put a few clubs together.

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Opinion & Analysis

How well do you really know the Teeing Ground rules? Here’s a refresher…



There are a few things you need to know 18 times every round if you want to stay on the right side of the law, and some of them are quirky. They all surround the Teeing Ground, a very specific area defined by the Rules which is different from the larger (undefined) flat area upon which the tee-markers are placed and rotated.

One might think that putting a peg in the ground to start your hole is stupid-simple, but let’s reserve that judgment for a while. I recently had a discussion about this with a friend, and crudely sketched out some scenarios.  Please look at Illustration No. 1, and hold off on looking at Illustration No. 2 further below for the moment.

In the first illustration, you will find the depiction of two haphazardly-placed (square) tee-markers; five golf balls; and a representation of the depth of two club-lengths. Which of the balls has been placed in a position to legally start the play of the hole?

Decide, then read on.

While it may seem simple, irregularly shaped tee-markers and tee-markers which “aim” you in an off direction relative to the fairway actually require careful analysis in order to accurately determine where the Teeing Ground begins and ends. Here is the explicit Definition:

The “teeing ground” is the starting place for the hole to be played. It is a rectangular area two club-lengths in depth, the front and the sides of which are defined by the outside limits of two tee-markers. A ball is outside the teeing ground when all of it lies outside the teeing ground.

When square tee-markers are positioned in such a way that their sides are not parallel to each other, the precise rectangular area of the Teeing Ground can have a surprising outline. And the fact that a ball may be partially outside the Teeing Ground and still considered technically within it can add to the possible confusion.  

Moving on to reviewing Illustration No. 2, you’ll see the rectangle of the Teeing Ground superimposed over the haphazardly placed tee-markers per the Definition. Ball A, C, and D are partially within the Teeing Ground and therefore legal to play, and Ball B and E are completely outside of it. So if you’re one of those players who wants to get every last inch closer to the hole when you tee it up (or on occasion want to be almost two full club-lengths away from the front of the Teeing Ground) take heed!

The exact place the tee-markers are positioned takes on critical importance in another way, too. Rule 11-2 forbids you from moving the tee-markers to assist you before you make your first stroke from the Teeing Ground. So unless you have already made a stroke (in which case the tee-markers have become movable obstructions which you may temporarily move) don’t intentionally move them — even to “straighten” them for groups behind you. Decision 11-2/2 gives you the fairly complicated details on when you may or may not touch them without penalty, but it’s way easier to just remember to leave them alone!

In wild contrast to the prohibitions against changing the position of the tee-markers, the Rules are downright liberal in terms of what you may do to the surface of the Teeing Ground before you play. While Rule 1-2 generally prohibits you from altering physical conditions with the intent of affecting the play of a hole, Rule 11-1 lets you go hog-wild in changing the surface of this particular area. You’re free to create or eliminate any irregularity of surface you wish: stamp on the ground with your foot, create a divot hole or tuft of turf with your club, pull out a hunk of grass or a weed — have at it if you’re so moved. In addition, Rule 13-2 allows you to remove dew, frost or water from the Teeing Ground. In all cases, make sure you’re doing this landscaping only to the ground within the two club-length deep official Teeing Ground. Do it to the surrounding area and you might be in trouble. (In particular, note that Decision 13-2/14 makes it clear that you may not break a branch off a tree near the Teeing Ground that might interfere with your swing.)

If you’ve got the nerve, there’s a way to sort of expand the Teeing Ground for yourself: Rule 11-1 assures us that a player’s stance may be outside the Teeing Ground when he or she plays a ball from within it. So if you’re looking to get a better angle to a dogleg fairway or to avoid some overhanging branches out there, feel free to tee it up anywhere you wish between the tee-markers and deal with your stance afterward. Just be sure your concentration skills allow you to ignore that tee-marker which may now be between your toe and the ball!

Finally, what do you do if you inadvertently tee off outside the Teeing Ground? Rule 11-4 covers this, and it’s dramatically different in Match Play vs. Stroke Play. In Match, you are fine unless your opponent immediately requires you to cancel your stroke and start again. There is no penalty in either case (other than the possible misfortune of having to cancel a good shot). In Stroke, teeing off outside the Teeing Ground is a critical mistake: You get a 2-stroke penalty for having teed off from an incorrect location and you must re-tee correctly and start again before you tee off on the next hole (or before you leave the 18th green without declaring your intention to re-play) or else you’ll be disqualified from the competition.

In either Match or Stroke Play, you may warn your opponent or fellow-competitor that he or she is about to play from outside the Teeing Ground. If you have the occasion, it’s a nice thing to do. Take care, play well!

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19th Hole