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What junior golfers really think about the college recruiting process

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At the 2018 National Golf Coaches Convention in Las Vegas, I spent a lot of speaking to coaches about the recruiting process. Based on the feedback, I decided to do something a little different; look at the recruitment process from the perspective of the junior golfer. With the feedback I collected I created a 10-question survey with some interesting questions. Then with the help of the Junior Tour of Northern California (THANK YOU!), collected response from 57 junior golfers. Here are the questions and what I found:

Q1: What percent more would a mid-major school have to offer you for you to turn down an offer from a major conference school like UCLA, Stanford or University of Florida?

Average Answer: 62 percent

Q2: How many times does a coach have to watch you play 9 holes for you to feel like they are REALLY interested?

Average Answer: 8

Q3: How many college teams do you follow on social media?

Average Answer: 7

Q4: Would you commit to a school without meeting the coaches or team and touring the facilities?

Answer: 16 percent – YES  84 percent – NO

Q5: Would you prefer: A better coach, a better facility or a better team travel schedule?

Answer:

58 percent: better Coach
25 percent: Better Facility
17 percent: Better Travel Schedule

Q6: Would you pay to attend a one-day camp to interact with a coach of a school you are interested in?

82 percent – Yes
18 percent – No

Q7: What is the perfect age to make a commitment to play college golf?

Average Answer: 16 years old

We also asked players, what do you like most to see on social media from a college team? Since the question was qualitative, we got a range of answers but, in general, respondents wanted to see the team having fun/bonding/what the players are about, as well as the scores of the players (both in qualifying and tournaments).

Obviously, the average responses don’t necessarily tell the whole story. When looking closer at the numbers for example, I found that:

  • 70 percent of players indicated that if a coach watches them 2-4 times, they know they are very interested
  • 10 percent of players expected a coach to watch them 10 or more times to be very interested
  • 30 percent of players follow 1 or less team on social media while only 10% follow more than 25

For me, the most notable take-aways from the survey were the fact that junior golfers put the biggest priority on the coach, over facilities and scheduling by a significant margin. While building facilities are important, Athletic Directors should balance the investment in facilities with bigger investments in coaches.

It was also shocking that 14 percent of junior golfers would commit to a school without visiting the campus? Speaking to coaches at the convention, our guesses were that this number would be very close to zero, however clearly, I was wrong.

Let’s hear from you, what are the questions you want to see in the next survey? Any of the results from this survey shock you? Please comment below!

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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 - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. The dude

    Mar 3, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Really good article……a bit surprising “better Coach” was that important….above facility (I played D1…..facility is VErY important…)

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Podcasts

TG2: Rory wins his “Fifth Major”! Plus, a discussion with a true golf junkie

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Of course we are talking about The Players and Rory’s win! Is The Players close to a 5th major or not? We have GolfWRX member mBiden2 on the show to talk about his golf junkie ways and the gear he is liking for 2019!

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

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Opinion & Analysis

College golf recruiting: The system works

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Yesterday, one of the parents I consult with on college placement asked me what the lessons are from the recent college admissions scandal for her and her son. What are the takeaways?

Michael Young, who coined the phrase in 1956, writes, a meritocracy is “the society in which the gifted, the smart, the energetic, the ambitious and the ruthless are carefully sifted out and helped towards their destined positions of dominance.” For decades higher education has embraced the meritocracy, creating an effective system which it funnels students with amazing precision to school that matches their academic ability, courtesy of indicators like GPA, SAT and class rank. So why would people work to circumvent this system? Ignorance and entitlement; the members of this scandal were driven by having the right brand name to tell their friends at dinner parties, not the welfare of their children.

In my own experience, I have seen families put their kids into months of hardcore standardized prep, while signing up for six to eight sittings of the SAT under the guise of trying to get to a better school, all while balancing practice and tournament golf. The problem is that this does not make you a good parent, it makes you an asshole.

In my own examination of data in the college signing process over the past three years, I have found only three outliers in Division One Men’s Golf at major conference schools. Each of these outliers had a NJGS ranking outside of the top 1000 in their class with scoring differentials above 3.5. They also each had a direct and obvious connection with the school. They leveraged the relationship and had their children admitted and put on the roster. Success! Unfortunately, none of the players appeared on the roster their sophomore year. Why? By the numbers, these players are 6 shots worst than their peers. That’s 24 shots over a four-round qualifier.

Obviously, it needs to be said again; the best junior players (boys and girls) are excellent. Three years of data suggest that players who attend major conference schools have negative scoring differentials close to 2. This means that they average about 2 shots better than the course rating, or in lay terms; have a plus handicap in tournaments. This is outstanding golf and a result of a well thought out and funded plan, executed over several years.

There is no doubt that the best players have passed through top tier programs in recent years, however, they have entered these programs with accolades including negative scoring differentials and successful tournament careers, including a pattern of winning. In order to compete at the professional level, players must meticulously try and mirror these successes in college. The best way to do it? Attend a school where the prospective student-athlete can gain valuable experience playing and building their resume. For a lot of junior golfers, this might not be the most obvious choice. Instead, the process takes some thought and looking at different options. As someone who has visited over 800 campuses and seen the golf facilities, I can say that you will be surprised and impressed with just how good the options are! Happy searching.

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: World Long Drive Champ Maurice Allen

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In this episode of the Gear Dive brought to you by Fujikura Golf, Johnny chats with Remax World Long Drive Champion Maurice Allen on where he started, his crazy equipment specs and why he relies on his eyes over the numbers.

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

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