How do you compare?

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Are you good enough at golf to get a scholarship to a D1 University?  Are you on a developmental path that will have you ready to play D1 college golf?  As a parent, do you really know how good your kid needs to be?  Or, if they even have a chance of making it to division one golf?   How do you know?  Do you know the key benchmarks for junior golfers in pursuit of a golf scholarship?

If you don't, you are not alone.  In fact, I have found that one of the most confusing parts of the recruitment process for prospective student athletes and their families, is finding accurate milestones for junior golfers in pursuit of Division I scholarships. To set the record straight, during a recent rain delay at the Yucatan Open, I processed approximately 2000 data points which included scoring from junior golf tournaments, as well as data from college signees to try to shed some light on the how good you really need to be question.

Here’s what I found:

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The numbers in these diagrams represent the scoring differential, each year, for the average player who will go on to play Division I Golf.

 Some obvious observations are:

1.  Boys and girls, on average, shoot lower scores on average every successive year of high school, getting about 1 shot per year better.

2.  Standard deviations are greater during freshman year, approximately 5 shots for girls and 2.5 shots for boys, compared to senior year, which means if you are young and off track, you have time to catch up.

3.  The data represents scoring differential for the year. A closer look at the data suggests that prospective student athletes average 1-2 shots worst from October to March and then approximately 1-2 shots better from June to August.

4. When examining the data, I also looked at the best player. Interestingly, the best girl as a freshman had a scoring differential of approximately -5.5, while the best senior was essential the same. For boys, the numbers improved from -3.5 to -5.5. Please note that when considering this data, I removed Lucy Li and Akshay Bhatia as both are statistical outliers.

Unfortunately, at this point, this is all I've got for you.  It's not much, but it's more than has ever been available before.  The good news is I am currently engaged in research with a team at York University in Canada to hopefully elaborate on the numbers soon. Among the questions we are trying to answer are: when do the best players start? How many hours per week do they practice? How often do they receive coaching? What does their schedule look like? When, these numbers become available, I will add to the diagram, as well as post a follow up article.   In the meantime, I hope this article helps create some clearer expectations.  Keep practicing....

Get Recruited!

How To Get Recruited
A Guide For Juniors and Parents

On June 16th, we asked college coaches how many recruits they reached out to? In total we received 75 responses, including 55 from D1 coaches. 80% of respondents suggested that they reached out to less than 25 players, with 13% suggesting they reach out to less than 50. This data is critical to prospective student athletes because if you are serious about playing college golf, then you need to attack the problem like you are the one recruiting the coach! How do you do this? Here are some tips:

Do your research

Junior golfers and their families need to understand how ranking relates to the college recruiting process. The data that I have collected over the past several years clearly demonstrates that recruiting is a meritocracy. The tipping point for players seems to be when they are ranked within the top 100 of their class and have scoring differentials of at least -1 or better on National Junior Golf Scoreboard (NJGS). These players can expect to receive between 10-15 inquires, depending on several other variables including academics, reputation, skill and physical ability.

For everyone else, the search process is very grueling. My data suggests that the average junior golfer spends about 35 hours emailing coaches, while getting few to no responses. While this can be frustrating, it is also a clear signal; the market is flooded with great players who are emailing coaches and searching for their own opportunities.

If you don’t know where you fit, I suggest you review some of my other articles, which examine how your NJGS ranking relates to opportunities to play college golf. They can be found at: www.golfwrx.com/brendanryan

Tip when emailing coaches: Put in the subject line of the email your NJGS ranking, SAT and GPA and send emails on Wednesday’s or Thursdays, the days coaches are least likely to be on the road traveling with their teams.

Be a fan

Congratulations; your hard work and research has resulted in the coach emailing you back! Now what? In the response to the coach, you should thank them, as well as ask what the best way to communicate with them moving forward. Many older coaches may prefer calls or emails; be malleable to their preference.

If the coach is really interested, it is likely they will want a phone conversation shortly. Keep in mind when having these conversations, coaches have very low expectations; they are used to carrying the conversation and much of it will likely focus on golf.  This does not mean however you should not prepare by having both a list of questions, as well as a strong understanding of the golf program including their team scoring average, tournament schedule and facilities. Most importantly, know their recent results and start the conversation with something like “I saw your team played great this week at X event” or “Wow, I saw Y shot 68 yesterday, that’s awesome!” This level of due diligence on your part will go a long way.

Regardless of the conversation, it is important to follow up promptly. My advice here is to send the coach a thank you note, hand written via mail. This demonstrates some investment of time and resources and will surely separate you from other candidates.

Manage your expectations

Keep in mind that many coaches respond to emails with what the industry calls a form letter. These letters are vague responses, which generally say thank you for the interest and keep me up to date on your scores. It is important you interpret these emails correctly; they are not necessarily interested; instead the coach is being polite and is grouping you in with many other prospects that are also keeping them updated.

In addition, emailing coaches without a scoring average of at least 75 or better for boys and 76 or better for girls is unlikely to get a response. This does not mean you cannot play college golf; however, you will likely need to be specific in your search.

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Some final thoughts….

College athletics requires individuals who are excellent communicators and promptly respond to email, text and phone calls. Although you may not be used to checking your email each day, I would highly recommend you do. You should also check your junk mail at least once a week. Missing an email sets a very poor precedent in the relationship.

Building a proper rapport with the coach should lead to about 4-6 text messages per week and a phone call about every 7-10 days. If you have not heard from the coach in 5 or more days, I would recommend contacting them via their preferred method of communication.

As a fan, I would also make sure to check their scores every day when the team is competing in a tournament. When results are posted, send the coach a comment, which shows you are interested in the team and their results.

Beyond scores, being a fan in the recruitment process makes a big difference. Junior golfers need to take an active role in their recruitment by liking and following teams on social media and making consistent attempts to reach out to the coach in a constructive way.

Keep in mind that Golf Placement Services has sent 55% of their clients to Division 1 schools, with many going on to play at Major Conference schools. If you need help with your college recruiting process, please consider reaching out to see how we might be able to support you in the pursuit of your dream!

 

Golf Placement Services

www.golfplacementservices.com

407-233-6946

New NCAA Rules

Effective May 1, the NCAA introduced new regulations, which further limited the interaction between players and coach. Under the new rules, players cannot have two-way communication with coaches until June 15 between their sophomore and junior years (Please note that prospective student athletes may still email and text coaches updates, including up coming schedules, although coaches cannot responded). The new rules are a further sign that the NCAA is both empowering and protecting the student athlete, by allowing student athletes more time to gain experience and understand the landscape of college golf. In this article, I want to explore in depth what the rules mean for both college coaches, as well as prospective student athletes.

 For NCAA coaches, this legislation along with other legislation last year passed which limits coaches to 45 days of evaluations per year. Under the new rules, recruiting returns back to being an art. Coaches must strategically spend each day wisely and those with keen eyes will be at a major advantage. Under the new rules, it is likely the majority of coaches will spend less time at any one event. Instead they will travel to 10-15 core events per year and spend the day evaluating each player in the field trying to learn as much about their game, grades and background as possible. From here, coaches will start to create extensive recruiting lists with up to 200 players, which on June 15th, they will mass email / call. This creates again a wide deep recruiting funnel which will significantly benefit players who properly invest in their development by building sound fundamental golf swings and make steady school grades.

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 The rules also have serious financial and time management implications. Under the new rules prospective student athletes cannot make visits (either unofficial or official) until August 1 entering their Junior Year in High School (regardless if they have started school). These rules will mean that in the fall, coaches will need to balance a melee of responsibilities from travel and team practice, to coordinating and hosting these visits. This will mean falls will become busier and some teams may choose to use less of their 24 days of competition. The rules also will mean significantly more investments in visits by major conference schools who will want to offer student athletes official visits as an incentive to getting one of the five permitted visits under the NCAA rules. This will provide major leverage in the recruitment game against smaller schools who may not be able to financially invest in having lots of prospective student athletes on visits.

 The implementation of the new rules has an impact on the best juniors. Each class year, there are about 1,000 serious junior players. Generally, 7-20 of these players fall into this most elite category.  For that group, the rules have serious consequences: saying yes to a full scholarship is advantageous for 3 reasons. First, it removes the pressure of figuring out where to go to college.  Second, it takes a financial pressure off, as not all of these kids are born to millionaires, so the money matters.  Third, it frees up time for them to improve their early ranking so they can keep putting in the hard work to remain at the top of the heap, which in itself is seriously stressful.

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What does it mean for the other 99%? The rule changes are designed to give prospective student athletes more time to get educated, become fans of college golf, to really understand the process of choosing a school and then to understand what it means to play golf while working towards a degree. By changing the rules, the NCAA hopes to have more mature students who have thoughtfully prepared for college and are ready to make decisions based on more than brand, peer pressure or scholarship. They hope prospective student athletes will thoughtfully engage in the process with the goal of finding the right fit.

So what is the right fit? A place where you can succeed academically by earning a quality degree with outstanding grades that will lead to further opportunities in education. The school should also offer significant playing time, in an environment with great people who are interested in pushing you towards your goals.  Parents and student athletes who engage in this process are going to be REALLY surprised; there are an unbelievable number of programs out there that will provide you the tools you need! 

So what should junior golfers be doing? Obviously you must be serious about your golf development. Work closely with an outstanding coach to build a solid technical foundation. The data shows you are likely AT LEAST 4 shots per day behind most elite juniors. To overcome this gap, treat and nurture your body with sleep and good food. But, above all else don’t be afraid to compete. Play for consequences often. Learn to break par (even from a shorter yardage) and become the best player in your area then region, then state while continually searching for ways to be better. 

Outside of your golf development, become a fan of college golf in your freshman and sophomore year of high school.  Learn about teams, programs and coaches. Track how they do. Drive by and see facilities when you’re in their area. Follow current college players on social media to see their experience. Use resources like Golfstat and Birdiefire to check the rankings and results. As you do this, you will soon realize that there are a number of coaches at mid majors and smaller schools like Scott Schroeder, Mike Hagan, Jimmy Stobbs, Jon Mills, Jeff Thomas, Steve Bradley, John Sjoberg, Chrisitan Newton, Steve Fell, Houston Moore, Shannon Sykora, Kenny Trapp, Molly Erikson, Emily Marron, David Schreyer, Brent Nicoson, Jacob Wilner, Ben Rickett,  Rhyll Brinsmead and Mallory Hetzel who do a heck of a job! (Guessing you cannot name where they coach????).  

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Remember not only are there many, many awesome coaches but the economic boom has created a ton of great facilities at places you may not have heard of. Not only do places like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have awesome facilities, but so do places like Georgia Southern, Nova Southeastern, Keiser University, Nichols State and Louisiana Tech. 

Maybe most importantly, build interpersonal skills. Simply put, you cannot succeed at school unless your able to check your / respond to emails multiple times a time, work closely with others, balance school with golf, and not be afraid of harsh criticism or working harder than everyone else. If you’re parents or coaches are helping you with these things right now or struggle with anything; stop and get help.  Become dedicated to becoming the best version of yourself. 

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While coaches cannot begin the recruitment process until June 15, this does not mean they are not still using their 45 days to search for talent. Prospective student athletes should follow coaches and players of teams they like on social media. In addition, as they climb up the ladder and win at the state level, send coaches updates on their win, upcoming schedules and positive comments on social media. 

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For those who are not there yet; continue to work hard. Sure, part of being great is hard work but another huge factor is time; nothing comes over night. Remember that when making these investments there are no guaranteed returns and you are entitled to nothing. There is a massive chance your hard work will result in an offer from a school you have never heard of and are likely, at least at first, not interested in. This is a mistake of hubris. Framed correctly you should be proud people are interested and should be fairly warned that success is really about seizing opportunities like the one presented by this coach. I promise, the older you will thank you for taking the chance.  

Although the NCAA has, through these new rules, changed the timeline for recruiting, one thing has not changed; the best individuals will always get the best (and most) choices. Regardless of the rules, prospective student athletes who are serious about playing college golf at a high level need to be be actively engaged in athletic, scholastic and personal development. This means shooting low scores and making great grades, as well as being a good citizen who actively is engaged in the details.

Thank you for reading; should you or your family have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us!

So You Want to Play Division I Men’s Golf

So You Want to Play Division I Men’s Golf

With the Early Signing period having just ended, I examined the list of men’s recruits and noticed the following facts, which should help any junior golfer and his family hoping to play Division I.

What About Division I Women's Golf?

What About Division I Women's Golf?

n my first two blog posts I discussed important statistics pertaining to early signees on men’s Division I and II college golf teams. It is only natural, then, that I move to an examination of the early signees on women’s collegiate golf teams.  Since it is practically every junior girl’s dream to play Division I women’s golf, I will examine data from the 2016 Division I Early Signees found on the National Junior Golf Scoreboard (NJGS)

How Does NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Compare to Division I?

How Does NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Compare to Division I?

Just like many of my junior golf clients and their families underestimate how hard it is play Division I men’s golf, even more think that if they cannot play Division I that they will simply just play Division II because it is the next level down. That could not be further from the proof.