There has been much anticipation for this signing class, and so we thought we would do the numbers and see how they stack up against previous classes and what, if any, trends are there?
Let’s look at the numbers as of Saturday, November 24, and see what the data says. (NJGS = National Junior Golf Scoreboard)
- Average NJGS for Division One Men’s Golf in 2019 early signing was 271 with a scoring differential of .79 compare to an average rank of 262.6 last year.
- Average NJGS for Division One Women’s Golf in 2019 was 152 with a scoring differential of .95. This is significantly better than last year when the average scoring differential was 5.25. Only 7 players who signed had scoring differentials above 5.25.
- top 100 men’s recruits choose mid major programs with BYU and North Texas both landing players in the top 25.
- Men’s major conference schools reload: Florida signs 3 players with an average scoring differential of -3.17 and average rank of 45, Baylor signs 4 with 2 in the top 25, Arizona State signs #9 in NJGS and 141 in WAGR,
- Arkansas signs 2 in the top 35 with an average scoring differential of -3.35.
- In women’s golf, Duke reloads with 2 players in the top 31 with scoring differentials of -6 and -4.19 respectively. Michigan and Notre Dame also nab two within the top 50.
- 10/41 top 100 women’s recruits choose mid major schools with Pepperdine signing two of them.
- Coaches care where you are from; in men’s golf 80% of the players ranked above 400 in their class signed at a school within approximately 400 miles of their house. In women’s golf 82% of Division 1 players ranked above 250 signed within 400 miles of their house.
- Academics matter to Girls: 80% of girls in the top 100 chose a top academic school like Michigan, Pepperdine, Wisconsin, Penn or Yale.
- 17% percent of male recruits who signed where international and 24% percent of women’s recruits where internationals
My major take-aways from the data are
Women’s golf is getting crazy good. Consider that in 1997/98 the winner of Golfstat Cup (best player in college) was Jenny Chausiriporn from Duke with a scoring average of 72.94. This would translate into roughly a scoring differential of one, or the average scoring differential of the average women’s Division One recruit in 2018/19.
The best junior golfers are simply incredible. Erica Shepard of Duke was the highest ranked player to sign. According to NJGS her scoring differential is -6. For boys, the highest ranked player to sign was Ricky Castillo of Florida with a scoring differential of -5.53. This means that these players are statistically 6.95 shots (Erica) and 6.32 (Ricky) shots better per round than the average Division 1 player.
Although the numbers for the average signee for men’s golf is about the same as last year, the data shows that about 30 percent more players signed early. Although I can only speculate, my guess is that this was a result of coaches moving quicker than usually and taking a larger than average class. Part of this might be luck; some schools have a disproportional amount of money some years, but it may also be influenced by the new recruiting and transfer rules.
How important is playing time in college if a player wants to turn pro?
One of the great debates among junior golfers, parents and swing coaches is what is the most crucial factor in making the college decision. My experience tells me that many students would answer this question with a variation of coaching, facilities and of course academics (especially if their parents are present).
I would agree that all three are important, but I wanted to explore the data behind what I think is an often overlooked but critical part of the process; playing time. For this article, I examined players under 25 who made the PGA tour and played college golf to see what percent of events they participated in during their college career. In total I identified 27 players and through a combination of the internet, as well as conversations with their college coaches, here are the numbers which represent my best guess of their playing time in college:
Player Percent of Events
- Justin Thomas 100%
- Rickie Folwer 100%
- Xander Schauffele 100%
- Bryson DeChambeau 100%
- Jon Rahm 100%
- Patrick Reed 91%
- Jordan Speith 100%
- Beau Hossler 100%
- Billy Horschel 100%
- Aaron Wise 100%
- Daniel Berger 100%
- Thomas Pieters 95%
- Ryan Moore 100%
- Kevin Tway 98%
- Scott Langley 95%
- Russell Hendley 100%
- Kevin Chappell 96%
- Harris English 96%
- JB Holmes 100%
- Abraham Ancer 97%
- Kramer Hicock 65%
- Adam Svensson 100%
- Sam Burns 100%
- Cameron Champ 71%
- Wydham Clark 71%
- Hank Lebioda 100%
- Sebastian Munoz 66%
Please note that further research into the numbers demonstrate that players like Pieters, Munoz, Clark, Reed, Hicock, Langely, Reed and Champ all played virtually all events for their last two years.
This data clearly demonstrates that players likely to make a quick transition (less than 3 years) from college to the PGA tour are likely to play basically all the events in college. Not only are these players getting starts in college, but they are also learning how to win; the list includes 7 individual NCAA champions (Adam Svensson, Aaron Wise, Ryan Moore and Thomas Pieters, Scott Langley, Kevin Chappell, and Bryson DeChambeau), as well 5 NCAA team champion members (Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, Beau Hossler, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer and Wydham Clack) and 2 US Amateur Champs (Bryson DeChambeau and Ryan Moore).
As you dig further into the data, you will see something unique; while there are several elite junior golfers on the list, like Speith and Thomas who played in PGA tour events as teenagers, the list also has several players who were not necessarily highly recruited. For example, Abraham Ancer played a year of junior college before spending three years at the University of Oklahoma. Likewise, Aaron Wise, Kramer Hickok and JB Holmes may have been extremely talented and skillful, but they were not necessarily top prospects coming out of high school.
Does this mean that playing time must be a consideration? No, there are for sure players who have matriculated to the PGA Tour who have either not played much in college. However, it is likely that they will make the PGA tour closer to 30 years of age. Although the difference between making the tour at 25 and 30 is only 5 years, I must speculate that the margin for failure grows exponentially as players age, making the difference mathematically extremely significant.
For junior golfers looking at the college decision, I hope this data will help them understand the key role of playing time will have in their development if they want to chase their dream of playing on the PGA Tour. As always, I invite comments about your own experience and the data in this article!
Hidden Gem of the Day: Republic Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas
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 pdaero, who takes us to Republic Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas. The course is situated just ten minutes from downtown San Antonio, and pdaero gives us some excellent insight into what you can expect should you make the trip here.
“My favorite golf course to play, it is always in really good shape. These pictures are from wintertime, which the greenness is still impressive. The course has a ton of fun holes and unique designs, and only houses visible on 4 tee and between 14 green and 15 tee.
The course rating is strong, with a 74.2 rating on a par 71 (7007 yards from the tips), and even from the second tee you get 1.3 strokes.”
According to Republic Golf Club’s website, the rate for 18 holes during the week ranges from $29 to $49, while the weekend rate ranges from $35 to $69.
An interview with State Apparel’s founder Jason Yip
For the past five years, Jason Yip has been building an apparel company that redefines the purpose of golf wear. With a strong background in innovation from his days in Silicone Valley, Yip wanted to reinvent golf apparel to be a functional tool for the golfer.
The other day, I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Jason Yip about State Apparel and a little about himself. It is not every day that you get to speak with someone who can exude passion through the phone. On this day, though, I could hear the passion Jason has for golf, California, and for State Apparel.
Yip said State Apparel has two major foundations
- Functional innovation
- Social responsibility
Jason loved talking about watching Tiger Woods. However, he watched for something I believe few ever have. How was Tiger wiping the dew and the grass off his clubs, hands, and ball? The answer that Jason observed was that Tiger and others are utilizing their clothing as wiping surfaces. The core of State Apparel is the functionally located wiping elements on your article of clothing. The staple of the brand is their Competition Pants which have wiping elements located on the cuffs, side pockets, and rear pockets.
State Apparel recognizes the need to be socially responsible as a company. This seems to be from Jason’s earlier days of playing golf behind a truck stop in Central Valley, California.
How is the State Apparel socially responsible? Yip identified three ways.
- Production is done in San Francisco.
- Most of their apparel utilizes sustainable fabric.
- Proud supporter of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance.
Jason’s desire is to provide not only apparel that is golf specific but also the experience that we have on the golf course. A little over a year ago the State Apparel Store and Urban Clubhouse opened on Filmore Street in San Francisco, California.
“I wanted to provide the golfing experience closer to the home of many golfers in the area,” Yip told me.
Among the State Apparel clothing at the store, there is an indoor hitting by with launch monitor. And they have even hosted speaking events with local professionals and architects at the clubhouse.
At the end of our conversation I asked Jason, what would he say to someone who knows nothing about State Apparel, especially those of us not in California?
“State Apparel is a unique authentic brand that is designed specifically for golfers by a golfer. Look at the product because it is something you have never seen and absolutely communicate on what you see or what you have questions about.”
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