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Opinion & Analysis

A deep dive into “toe hang” of a putter, and why it matters

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Let’s start with the basics just to be sure everyone is on the same page. When people talk about toe hang (at least in the traditional sense), what exactly are they talking about?

Grab your putter and lay it on a flat surface with the putter head hanging freely off the edge. Now, look at where the toe of your putter is pointing and imagine a clock face is centered on the axis of the shaft. The closer the toe of your putter is to pointing at 6:00, the more toe hang it has. The closer the toe of your putter is to pointing at 9:00 (for a right-handed golfer), the less toe hang it has. If the toe of the putter is pointing directly at 9:00 (where the face is pointing straight up), that is referred to as “face balanced.” If the toe of the putter is pointing at 7:30, that is generally referred to as “1/4 toe hang.” If the toe of the putter is pointing directly at 6:00, that is commonly referred to as “full toe hang.” Generally speaking, the majority of putters will fall on a spectrum somewhere between face balanced and full toe hang.

Of course, there are exceptions to that, but the point of this article will be to address more traditional designs.

What determines Toe Hang?

In technical terms, toe hang is determined by the relationship between the axis of the shaft and the center of gravity of the putter. If the two are perfectly aligned, the result is a face balanced putter. However, as the axis of the putter shaft gets closer to the golfer in relation to the putter’s center of gravity when addressing the golf ball, more toe hang will be the result. What that means from a feel perspective is that more toe hang will place the weight of the putter farther away from your hands as you swing the putter. That displacement will effectively place a moment arm on the putter shaft as you swing it, encouraging the face to open as you go back and then close as you move through the ball. Conversely, a face balanced putter will not want to torque at all naturally during the course of swinging the putter, as the two points are aligned with each other.

Something else to keep in mind is that there are two components to a torque or a moment. One is the distance between the two points (also referred to as the moment arm), which is essentially what we’ve been talking about up to now. The second component is the amount of force acting at that distance. As the weight of your putter increases, so will the effect of more or less toe hang. In practice, an original Ping Anser from 40 years ago won’t engage the hands in the same way during the stroke that a Ping Anser from today will due to today’s putter being 25-30 grams heavier. That may not sound like much until you point out that it’s a 10 percent increase.

Face-balanced putter’s relationship between axis of shaft (red line) and putter CG

Ping Anser’s relationship between axis of shaft (red line) and putter CG

8802’s relationship between axis of shaft (red line) and putter CG

What does Toe Hang actually do?

In the interest of full disclosure, I would have to submit that there is a myriad of characteristics that make a certain putter perfect for a particular golfer. This article is a deep dive into just one of those topics. We have to assume the putter’s length, lie angle, loft, offset, static weight, swing weight, grip size, grip shape, etc. are already suited to the golfer. We also have to assume the putter fits the golfer’s eye, feels right, and inspires confidence. Assuming those have all been configured correctly, let’s address what toe hang can do for a golfer.

Let’s go back to our previous discussion about more toe hang encouraging more torqueing of the putter face. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself what you want to feel when swinging the putter, as toe hang will contribute a lot to how the golfer feels where the face of the putter is. A golfer who prefers a lot of toe hang will complain that he or she has no idea where the face is when swinging a face balanced putter. On the contrary, a golfer who prefers a face balanced putter will feel like he or she has to fight with the putter in order to square the face of a heel-shafted blade.

As a general rule, more toe hang will either encourage or better suit a stronger arc in the putting stroke. One of the more classic examples of this arrangement would be Ben Crenshaw’s fluid, swinging-a-door putting stroke matched to the iconic heel-shafted blade putter he so famously wielded over the years.

Putters in the vicinity of ¼ toe hang (probably most of which would be somehow related to the trusty Ping Anser) generally encourage or better suit a slight arc in the putting stroke. Examples of this setup are nearly endless, but arguably one of the more successful would be Brad Faxon, who holds the record for lowest putts per GIR in a PGA Tour season at 1.704.

Face-balanced putters (as you might have guessed) generally encourage or will better suit a straight-back, straight-through putting stroke. These types of putters will most often appear in the form of a mallet with a double bend shaft. This recipe is one that has been widely attributed to legendary instructor Dave Pelz and his teaching methodology.

What does all of this ultimately mean?

When you go shopping for a new flat stick, try out different amounts of toe hang and get a feel for how they engage your hands as you swing the putter. Ultimately, that’s what you’re paying attention to. Different amounts of toe hang will allow you to have a different feel for where the face of the putter is, which will have different effects on how you release the putter. This will affect both the location you strike the ball on the face as well as your face angle control, so having a poor match could adversely affect both your distance and directional control.

Different putting stroke paths and their general relationship with toe hang

There is no “one size fits all” answer for what works, but as I alluded to above, there are some general guidelines for where you can start. As a rule, the more arc you have in your stroke, the more toe hang you will likely prefer. With that being said, there are exceptions to every rule. While it’s generally true that an 8802 is a good match with a strong arc stroke (for example), there are also cases where a golfer’s natural strong arcing stroke might benefit from something with less toe hang. Placing the center of gravity of the putter closer to the axis of the shaft could possibly quiet the golfer’s hands during the putting stroke. This, of course, depends on whether your personal putting stroke needs correcting or simply complimenting.

Also, your typical miss patterns could indicate a mismatch between you and the toe hang in your putter. If you miss a lot of putts to the right (for a right-handed golfer), a putter with less toe hang might help you correct that. Obviously, the reverse of that might also help you if you miss to the left often.

In short, while there are some general guidelines to follow that serve as good starting points, there is no cookie-cutter answer for finding the right putter from you apart from a fitting with an experienced professional. And when you find the right recipe for YOU, stick with it. No two golfers are the same and no two putters are the same.

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Peter Schmitt does not profess to be a PGA professional or to be certified at...well...anything much in golf. Just another lifelong golfer with a passion for the game trying to get better every day, the definition of which changes relatively frequently. Peter is a former Marine and a full-time mechanical engineer (outside of the golf industry). He lives in Lexington, KY with his wife and two young kids.

49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. Rich

    Aug 14, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I’m a straight back and thru stroke guy and use a mallet and at times a 8802 and haven’t changed my stroke ,but the 8802 has a super stroke grip and that helps..

  2. Chuck

    Aug 10, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    In the lead photo, what is the putter that is second from the right?

  3. Rusty Trombone

    Aug 3, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    I went from a face balanced Musty Putter, to the Ping sigma G Tyrone, to the Scotty Cameron 5.5m, then to my dad’s old Taylormade (lots of toe hang) and started putting lights out with it. Just received the Taylormade TP Soto today, and although it doesn’t have the same plastic pure roll insert as my dad’s, (it’s got a metal “milled insert”) it has similar toe hang, and look forward to testing it out. Definitely want to try the SAM thing another poster mentioned.

  4. stuart burley

    Jul 28, 2018 at 10:15 am

    The explanation of the COG in relation to the shaft is very good. Fact is though that the opening and closing and clubface torque have been proven to be the opposite. Good golfers aim slightly left and hold the clubface off through impact (negative gamma torque). Poor putters aim slightly right and over rotate during impact (positive gamma rotation). This is easier to do with a face balanced putter due to the removal of clubface torque.

    • shawn

      Jul 29, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      No, you are wrong about the COG. What Peter has shown is incomplete because you must also consider the COG of the putter head itself which may be well behind the “sweet spot” shown on the putter face. You must determine where the red line axis intersects the putter head to fully understand putter mechanics. And if you are applying torque to the putter you are incompetent.

    • Geohogan

      Jul 29, 2018 at 11:24 pm

      Whether a pro or am, impact between the putter face and the ball is
      one, one thousandths of a second. There is no gamma rotation in one, one thousandths of a second, positive or negative.

      Stop perpetuating mythology.

  5. RBImGuy

    Jul 27, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I am a great putter and putt well with any sort of putter.
    its the Indian not the bow

  6. Harv

    Jul 26, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    I got toe hang… but I just use a nail clipper…

  7. HDTVMAN

    Jul 25, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Another very important part of the putting decision is the grip. Thin, thick, flat, round, hard, soft…there are no right or wrongs, whatever you like.

  8. Socrates

    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Seems like a regurgitation of mythology with no real data to substantiate the claims. Plenty of players on Tour (I’ll use Tour players since they are the best putters out there) who use face balanced putters and have an arcing stroke. And plenty that use a toe hang putter that are SBST. Reminds me of how people thought they knew how to make the ball curve until the “new” ball flight rules told us what really happens.

    • Caroline

      Jul 25, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      Nothing, absolutely nothing is more important in golf, pitches, chips, putting..then hand eye coordination…pros have so much of it that trying to do what they do is impossible unless you have that coordination yourself. For us amateurs golf is an adventure every time we step on the first tee. Amateurs that improve and get better only do so because they stick with what ever they found that gets them into the hole. Sadly most amateurs are at the mercy of what ever the next swing,putt, chip article some “golf” instructor has published this month. If you find a way that gets it into the hole that is your secret.

  9. Cris Kennedy

    Jul 25, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    The only putter you want is the one you paid SO MUCH MONEY FOR that you can never ever change to something else because, after all, you spent WAY MORE MONEY than you can ever justify, or even recover from financially. This way…you can never change putters. It FORCES you to learn how to use that putter; i.e., you’ll finally learn how to putt and not keep thinking, “….maybe my problem I need the latest and greatest (different) putter that___________uses on tour……!!

    • Cameron Diego

      Jul 26, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Chris, you are so right. I’ve been making payments on my Scotty Cameron putter for the last fifteen years. It is almost paid off (only have five more years to go) and in the last two years, I have only three-putted once.

  10. Terry Porvin

    Jul 25, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    There may be an error in the 2nd to last paragraph of the article. From my understanding, if a right handed golfer is missing putts right, he/she may need more to hang to square up the face & vise versa.

    • Scott S

      Jul 27, 2018 at 7:59 am

      Terry- When I read that I thought the same thing. More toe hang would create a greater amount of putter face closing during the stroke would it not? The only thing I could think of was perhaps with less toe hang the putter would not open up as much to begin with and effectively reduce overall opening/closing of the face. I would love to hear a greater explanation of this or a correction of what was written.

  11. JR

    Jul 25, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    I find reading the putt correctly helps me make more putts.

  12. Joe Perez

    Jul 25, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Wonderful article, but I still can’t figure out why sometimes I prefer a face-balanced mallet and other times, one with a lot of toe-hang. ????

    • Geohogan

      Jul 28, 2018 at 12:53 am

      “Change is as good as a rest?”

      When we change it up, it stimulates our brain.
      Its not toe hang or not toe hang, its the variety that increases focus and we do better .. until we need another fix.

      Neurologists say, to change the route home from work every day. It stimulates neurons. Change in our golf prevents atrophy.

  13. CJ

    Jul 25, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    While there are always typical negative responses, most poor putters can’t read greens. Using arc style trainer and putting rh only for rh players helped me tremendously. Thanks for the article OP.

  14. BL

    Jul 25, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Toe hang can be very misleading. See: Bullseyes.

  15. dtrain

    Jul 25, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    So what does this article prove that I haven’t seen 1000 times before? How exactly is this a “deep dive” More like sticking your toe in the kiddie pool. How about some serious testing, with actual golfers?

  16. Peter Schmitt

    Jul 25, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Thanks for the discussion, folks. There’s a lot to unpack here and frankly there wasn’t enough room to talk about concepts such as toe up, face balanced at impact, and the like. This is intended to serve as a 101-level discussion to cover the “traditional” spectrum of one aspect of putter design. This should aid in having an informed discussion with a fitter, which IMO is the proper conclusion of the article. Go get a proper fitting with a qualified individual.

    • Don

      Jul 25, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      You also failed to mention how the actual “connection point” of the shaft to the putter head affects things. For example, your first picture (the one showing the face-balanced putter with the axis of the shaft pointing directly at the impact sweet spot) would actually create torque (twist) at the moment of impact because even though the axis of the shaft is pointed at the sweet spot, the shaft “connects” toward the heel. Now, contrast this to a center-shafted putter that has the exact same axis of the shaft but that connects to the putter head with no goose-neck. It would not twist when impacting the ball because it connects at the point where the sweet spot actually is. From a “physics” standpoint, a center-shafted putter would seem to be more ideal even though the axis of the shaft would be exactly the same as one with a goose-neck.

      • engineer bob

        Jul 26, 2018 at 4:20 pm

        Why is my scientifically valid comment being held for moderation?

        • Harv

          Jul 26, 2018 at 7:38 pm

          …. because if you’re too smart they will delete your comments because the don’t want the gearheads to blow up their heads…

  17. Jimmie

    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:16 am

    How about putters that are perfectly 360 degree balanced, which means either no toe hang or any toe hang you desire. It is ideal as there is no bias and perfect feel. I got one from ebay P&si-Egos putter.

    • PT

      Aug 1, 2018 at 9:00 pm

      Yeah but you notice on their website that they have no video examples of anybody actually making any putts with the putter? Nobody! But they have videos of everybody else missing.

  18. QB

    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:02 am

    You neglected to mention toe up putters, which point to 12 noon! 12 o’clock toe hang allows the face to remain square throughout the stroke, they’re nearly impossible to pull or push. Been bagging one for a couple years now and changed my game. Love my Edel brick but I believe odyssey came out with a line of toe up recently as well.

    • Jimmie

      Jul 25, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      I think Odyssey introduced a toe-down putter… just like Axis 1.

  19. Antonio

    Jul 25, 2018 at 3:16 am

    Great article, thanks!
    However I do not agree on the conclussion. By own experience If you tend to miss right a more toe Hung putter will help you close the face at impact and bring it more square, provided of course that you have and arc putter swing as you mentioned.

  20. Jim McPherson

    Jul 25, 2018 at 1:48 am

    So what is the consensus on putter fittings? Worth it?

    Or is it all about rolling what appeals to the eye and then putting in the practice?

    • HDTVMAN

      Jul 25, 2018 at 10:47 pm

      I stress to my customers, before buying a putter, have a PGA Professional go thru the SAM, Science In Motion, program. It’s 90 minutes and $50 at our shop, and well worth it. It’s used at the Callaway Performance Center and TM’s Kingdom, and will show you your arc & strike angle, helping you to pick out the correct putter. We allow customers to compare their current putter to whatever putter on the floor that they are considering purchasing. Best $50 you will spend.

  21. engineer bob

    Jul 24, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    … putter shaft axis… putter center of gravity… torque… moment… moment arm.… OK, stop here!!!
    The table top test for toe hang is good, but let’s complicate it with some simple science.
    Hold the top of your putter grip between the finger and thumb and twirl the hanging putter. If the shaft and spin axis coincide, the putter is face balanced. If the shaft rotates outside of the spin axis and wobbles, it’s not face balanced. (p.s. the vertical spin axis is called the longitudinal gravitational axis 😮 ).

  22. David

    Jul 24, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Check out the videos from the guys at Directed Force putters if you want to see what a crock “face-balanced” putters are. They absolutely, positively do not stay “square the the line” in any way, shape or form.

    No I don’t work for Directed Force.

    Yes, I bought one.

    No, I no longer use it.

    But, hey, let’s at least TRY to get the science right….

    • gif

      Jul 24, 2018 at 9:59 pm

      Are you a “feeel” putter?

    • Geohogan

      Jul 24, 2018 at 10:40 pm

      What if a putter did stay square to the line?

      Putter ball contact is 1/1000 second for 1/4 inch.
      That is all she wrote.

      …so whether putter face stays square after impact is meaningless.
      It is just more marketing BS, like oversize grips.
      Check out the putters used by two of the greatest putters who ever lived, Bobby Jones and Bobby Locke.
      Check out their putters.

      • gif

        Jul 25, 2018 at 12:12 am

        But you don’t realize that a putter represents a golfer’s fhallic symbol… his masculinity on the greens as he bravely putt-putts the ball into the hole… ploop 😮

  23. acew/7iron

    Jul 24, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Funny you mention big grips…I kept inching towards adding larger and larger ones until one day I realized I could not control distance or direction at all. Got a small grip and back to lagging them close or making them from time to time.

    • Geohogan

      Jul 24, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      ace, you werent adding larger and larger grips, but rather adding more and more weight to the butt end of the club. Some oversize grips will be 75 grams heavier than std(50 grams). Thats serious reduction in swing weight, maybe from D2 to C0? Serious reduction in clubhead feel.

      IMO, adjustable counter weights is the way to go with putters. Its been proven that performance improves (up to 30 days) when we make changes; and if you believe a change will make a difference for the better (placebo effect), there is 60% chance you will improve.

      • gif

        Jul 25, 2018 at 12:17 am

        75 grams minus 50 grams = 25 grams… almost 1 ounce… insignificant…. and putter swingweight is irrelevant to a tiny putting movement. You can adjust to any putter size, shape, weight if you practice enough like the pros do.

        • Geohogan

          Jul 26, 2018 at 7:50 am

          Some oversize grips will be 75 grams heavier than std(50 grams

          75+50=125 grams

  24. Geohogan

    Jul 24, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Messing around with an old Powerbilt, Model 57 blade putter not unlike Bobby Jones, Calamity Jane. 33.5 inches long, B 4 swing weight. Calamity Jane was B8, if reference I found is correct.

    So although complete toe hanger(6 oclock), the counter balance puts so much weight in the hands, rather than the putter head,
    that the face is very controllable.

    Makes me think that counter balancing may be the reason for the fad to go to oversize grips. It must reduce Swing weight by at least 10 SW points , to add 50+ grams to the handle, with no compensation to the head.

    I’ll bet if golfers maintained swing weight when they put oversize grips on their clubs the fad would go away. ie. its counter balancing resulting in significantly lower SW, that gives more clubhead control, not fatter grips.

    • gif

      Jul 25, 2018 at 12:20 am

      Those old 1-iron shaped vintage putters were used in the days of the “stymie”… where you had to loft your ball over your opponents ball to get to the hole… without contacting his ball…!!!

      • Geohogan

        Jul 26, 2018 at 8:38 am

        Many golfers today use putters with 6-10 degrees of loft and dont do it because of stymies. For one thing it allows forward lean or hands ahead and still maintain loft to get the ball rolling.

        How much loft is remaining if putter has 2 degrees of loft and hands are ahead at impact?

      • Geohogan

        Jul 26, 2018 at 2:13 pm

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TCObKqRwtQ
        1:20
        Ben hogan , stymied, using an L Wedge?

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Opinion & Analysis

Here’s who should be the four U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s picks based on analytics

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After the PGA Championship, the U.S. Ryder Cup team solidified 8 of its 12 players on the team. Now, captain Jim Furyk will have to decide who the other 4 players will be to join the team. In this day and age of advanced data analytics, it is imperative for the U.S. team to utilize an analytical approach. The European team has used advanced analytics in recent Ryder Cups, and they now field one of the best European squads of all time. Any advantage that the Europeans have that the U.S. team can counter would behoove Furyk and his chances of being a winning Ryder Cup captain.

Normally, captains have sought out players that have played well right before the Ryder Cup. This is a sound strategy. My statistical research on the subject is that most players reach peak performance for about four events in a row. Then their performance inevitably dips to a degree before eventually they hit peak performance, again.

The golden rule is that 80 percent of a player’s earnings in a season come in about 20 percent of the events they play in. Thus, if a player earns $2 million and plays 25 events in a season there’s a good likelihood that he earned $1.6 million of that in just 5 events.

These trends show that picking a hot player is fairly important. However, the issue is that Furyk has to make 3 of the picks by September 3rd and the last pick by September 9th and the Ryder Cup starts on September 28th. Thus, it’s very plausible that a player who is picked because they are playing great golf may cool down a bit by the time the Ryder Cup is being played. Therefore, finding a player with a hot hand is not quite what it is cracked up to be. But, I would recommend staying away from players that are playing miserably. History has shown that a hot player that is selected is more likely to perform better at the Ryder Cup than the cold player that gets selected.

There are some simple statistical rules to follow for optimal picks:

  1. Seek out quality performers around the green as it helps most in the Foursome (alternate shot) and individual match play format.
  2. You want birdie makers and quality performers on each of the holes (par-3’s, par-4’s and par-5’s) for the Fourball (best score) format.
  3. Ryder Cup experience doesn’t mean anything if the player is a poor Ryder Cup performer.
  4. All things being equal, take the younger player.
  5. Lean towards the player who fits into both Fourball and Foursome formats over the slightly better player that only fits well into one format.

A good way to start to determine what picks you need is to understand your current team. Here are the rankings in key metrics for the top-8 players on the U.S. team (rankings based out of 205 players):

The top-8 players compile a good driving team that drives the ball effectively thru hitting the ball a long ways rather than being deadly accurate off the tee. One of the best attributes the top-8 has is that they are a very good Short Game team (median ranking of 40.5). They are also pretty good from the Red Zon (175-225 yards), but are better from the Yellow Zone (125-175 yards).

The top-8 has dominated par-4’s (median ranking of 11.5) and par-5’s (median ranking of 20) while being good on the par-3’s (median ranking of 44.5). They also make a lot of birdies (median ranking 27th).

It should also be noted that Brooks Koepka’s data could probably be thrown out since it was skewed by him coming off an injury and he is clearly a different and much improved player in recent months. Koepka has typically been one of the better putters on Tour and a pretty good Red Zone performer.

The potential issues I see is that they do not hit a lot of fairways and have some players with issues hitting shots from the rough which is a bad combination in the Foursome format. Also, Webb Simpson currently stands as their weakest link on the team as he has not played that well in recent months and they will likely need to figure out a way to work around him if his performance doesn’t improve between now and the Ryder Cup.

Here are the picks I would recommend making at this point:

Tiger Woods

This is clearly the easiest pick to make even though Tiger’s Ryder Cup record has not been exactly stellar. Forget about Tiger being arguably the greatest player of all time, his performance has clearly indicated that he deserves to be on this Ryder Cup team. Furthermore, he’s statistically a quality fit in either the Fourball or Foursome format. The only issue I see is that given his age and his back issues, it would be wise to use him in no more than 3 matches in the first two days and even that may be too much for him. But, I would love to see him paired in the Foursome format with a player who hits fairways and can play well from the rough for those drives that Tiger struggles with.

Tony Finau

Finau has had 8 top-10 finishes and 2 second place finishes this season. He’s a nice looking fit at the Ryder Cup because he’s a great fit in the Fourball format and a pretty good fit in the Foursome format. In fact, my simulations find that he and Tiger would be a good fit together in either format.

Bryson DeChambeau

Again, versatility and youth play a key role in his selection. You never quite know who is going to show up at the Ryder Cup and who may get injured. Thus, there’s always a need for a player that fits both formats and can play in ever match if needed. The simulations I’ve ran really like a Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau pairing.

Patrick Cantlay

This was a difficult choice between Cantlay, Mickelson and Zach Johnson. The pros for Mickelson is that he has played well in recent Ryder Cups and certainly has the experience. He’s also not a bad fit in the Foursome format and a really good fit in the Fourball format if paired with another birdie making machine that avoids bogeys and plays well on par-3’s (i.e. Koepka, Fowler and Tiger). Zach has been a quality Ryder Cup performer as well and is best suited for the Foursome format. However, he’s not such a bad fit in the Fourball format. He doesn’t hit it long, but he does make birdies (43rd in Adjusted Birdie Percentage).

From a pure numbers point of view, my simulations favor Cantlay. I wish he was better from the Red Zone and from the rough, but he’s still a quality candidate in both formats and has youth on his side. For sentimental reasons, I would pick Mickelson because the simulations such as him and Tiger in the Fourball format, and this will likely be the last time that the two can ever be paired together. The numbers don’t care about emotions, though. And that’s why Cantlay is the pick for now. It would just be wise to wait until September 9th to make the final pick.

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Opinion & Analysis

Prospective NCAA Golfers, are you ready for September 1? Here’s what you should be doing

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In June, I reported changes to the NCAA rules, including new legislation that prevented college coaches from contacting a prospective student athlete before September 1 of their Junior Year. With September 1 just around the corner, the question is: are you ready?

If not, don’t worry. As always, I am here to help you understand the college landscape and find the best opportunity to pursue your passion in college! Here’s what you need to know:

Be Prepared

Over time, you are going to hear from some coaches. It is important that students are prepared to talk to coaches. Before speaking to a coach, it is important to do research about their institution; what are the grades required for admissions? How many players are on the team? How much of the student population lives on campus? Know the basics before your conversation.

It is also important that you are ready to answer a couple questions. Coaches are very likely to ask, why are you interested in my school? Tell me about your grades or academic interests? Or, tell me about your golf game? Be honest and remember a passion for the game goes a long way.

Coaches are also likely to ask if you have any questions. Having a couple questions written down is important. If you are not sure what to ask, here are some questions I recommend:

  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • What is your favourite part of coaching?
  • What type of student best fits in at your university?
  • What type of athlete best fits in?
  • What are the goals for the golf program?
  • How do you determine who play play in your top 5 at tournaments?
  • Do you ever take more than 5 players to a tournament?
  • What access does the team have to golf courses?
  • Is it expected to have your own vehicle?
  • Do you do any technical swing work with the players?
  • What is your greatest strength as a coach?
  • Do you offer academic support, such as tutors for students?
  • What percent of teachers have terminal degrees?
  • How does my major (X) impact golf? Can I do it and golf?
  • Do you support graduates in getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting jobs?
  • What success do people have getting into grad schools?

Know the Numbers

With only a couple weeks before September 1, I would recommend you take time and see where you (or your son and daughter) stands on websites such as Junior Golf Scoreboard or Rolex AJGA Rankings. Now that you know the number, consider in several previous articles I have presented how rankings related to college signings. My analysis of the numbers demonstrates that, for boys, the average Division I player is ranked approximately 300 in Junior Golf Scoreboard in their class with a scoring differential of about .5. The average Division II player is ranked about 550 in their class. For girls, it appears that ranking is less important, but there is a strong relationship between scoring differential and college signings. Girls that sign at schools within the top 50 have scoring differentials of at least -3 or better, while the average for any Division I player is approximately 5.

Keep in mind that when you search on Junior Golf Scoreboard for yourself, it will show your ranking overall. This number is going to be much lower for your ranking in your class. Without a subscription, you will not be able to find your exact rank, but I would generally say you can cut the number by about 50 percent to give yourself a fair gauge. So if you are 3750 overall, you are likely close to 1875 in your class.

For many members of the junior class reading this article, they may see that their ranking might be significantly higher than these numbers. Don’t panic; the rankings are over a 1-year period. After a year, old scores drop off and new scores can be counted. Also, on Junior Golf Scoreboard, your worst 25 percent of rounds are not counted. So, you have time to continue to work on your game, improve your ranking and get the attention of coaches!

Do your research

Now that you have an idea about your ranking, start researching. Where did players of similar rank sign last year? What is the rank of that school? What schools are ranked about the same? Answering these questions will require some time and two resources; Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfstat.com. To find out where similar players signed from last year, go to njgs.com, then under the tab “rankings & honors,” the bottom option is college signees. Click there, and then you can order the signees based on class rank by clicking on “scoreboard class ranking as of signing date.” You will notice that last year, players ranked about 1800 in their class signed at such schools as Kenyon, Glenville, Southern Nazarene, Central Alabama Community college and Allegany college. Pretty good considering these schools have produced a president of the United States (Hayes, Kenyon), and a 5-time Major Championship participant (Nathan Smith, Allegany).

Now that you have a list of schools where similar students have signed, look up the golf rankings of these schools on golfstat.com. The rankings of schools are under the “rankings” tab on the home page and segmented by NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA.

First find out where the school is ranked and then consider schools ranked 5-10 spots ahead and behind that school. Are any of these of interest? Any where you think might sound interesting? Take time and build a list, then send an email to those schools introducing yourself, along with a swing video.

Have a Plan

Regardless if you are a Junior in High School or a Senior in High School, come September 1, remember that there is still time and regardless of what people say, coaches are always looking. For High School Juniors, it is likely that next summer will have a critical impact on your opportunities in college golf, so what can you do over the next 9 months? Where are you missing out on the most shots? Take time, talk to people and develop a plan to give yourself the best chance to succeed in the future. And then, put in the time!

For Seniors, although many might be in your ear saying it’s too late, don’t listen to them. You still have some time. Take a careful look at how you can use the next 2-3 months to improve and prepare for events such as the AJGA Senior Showcase in Las Vegas. Remember that data suggests that up to one-third of players sign in the late period (for all levels) and up to 60 percent of players who compete in the AJGA Senior Showcase in December in Las Vegas, go on to get offers.

As always, if you have any feedback on this article or a story idea, please feel free to reach out to me! I always love hearing from people and helping them connect with schools that meet their academic, athletic, social and financial needs! Best of luck to you, or your son/daughter.

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