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

You Would Be Surprised…

In my last Blog, I examined all the Early Signings that were published for the 298 Division I men’s golf teams. The average Junior Golf Scoreboard (JGS) Class Ranking was 364.54. 

In my latest blog, I examine the Division II men’s golf Early Signings.

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, because many Division II schools are better than Division I schools.

To illustrate, I analyzed Golfstat’s TOP 25 Division II men’s golf Early Signings and found the following:

The average JGS 2017 Class Ranking was 510, which included 1938 at No. 11 University of North Alabama-UNA (of course an Alabama recruit, because as I pointed out in my previous blog, coaches mainly recruit close to home — especially if it is such a high recruit as this, considering its other two recruits were 183 and 723, from Alabama as well. 

  • If you take away the 1938 recruit, the average JSC Class Ranking was 410

  • Lowest Ranking: 84 (No. 2 West Florida/Venezuela)

  • 2 Top 183 (USC-Aiken/South Carolina; UNA/Alabama)

  • 9/17 Top 500=53%

  • 11/17 Top 600=65%

  • 470 WAGR (No. 1 Lynn/Chile)

  • 389 European Golf Rankings (No. 4 Barry/Argentina)

  • 11/21 In-State=52%

  • 16/21 In-State or Regional=76%

  • 5 Internationals=24%

So may ask then, why aren’t many of these players playing Division I? As I mentioned in the last blog, if each 298 Division I men’s golf program is recruiting two players year, only 596 spots are available per year, amongst a pool of recruits that spans the globe, so supply and demand is one factor.

Another factor is “Fully Funded” programs versus not “Fully Funded.” Based on direct experience, I would estimate that 50 percent of men’s NCAA golf programs are “Full Funded.” “Fully Funded” is technically defined as having the ability to offer the full amount of scholarship under the NCAA rules:

  • NCAA DI: 4.5

  • NCAA DII: 3.6

Many people make their decisions based on the label of the division. I find this to be shortsighted, because the worth of a program has less to do with division and more to do with the commitment of the administration, donors and greater community towards the golf program. For example Division II powerhouse, No. 7 Nova Southeastern University, boasts their own golf course, 27,000 students and the perfect weather of South Florida. In fact 6 of the Top 10 Division II teams are in Florida.

In comparison a school like St Francis (NY) may be Division I, but it is definitely not “Fully Funded” because its coach is part time — he is a lawyer during the day — thus they have a player shooting in the 100s. For the most part, schools are ranked where they are because of their funding/commitment from the college or university (or lack there of) as the schools with the most funding have the best coaches, facilities, scholarships, thus they get the best players and regularly compete for conference and national championships and vice versa.

This point is further exemplified by the fact that No. 1 Lynn’s Fall Team Scoring Average of 71.42 was better than the following Top 25 Division I programs:

  • No. 8 Texas A&M

  • No. 10 Texas

  • No. 13 North Carolina

  • No. 20 Oregon

  • No. 22 Clemson

  • No. 23 UNLV

  • No. 25 GT

And No. 2 West Florida’s Fall Team Scoring Average, (71.18), even better than Lynn’s, was better than the following Top 25 Division I programs:

  • No. 8 Texas A&M

  • No. 9 Oklahoma

  • No. 10 Texas

  • No. 11 Georgia

  • No. 13 North Carolina

  • No. 18 San Diego State

  • No. 19 Texas Tech

  • No. 21 Duke

  • No. 22 Clemson

  • No. 23 UNLV

  • No. 25 Georgia Tech

In fact if you compare the Fall Team Scoring Averages of the Top 25 Division I men’s teams to the Top 25 Division II teams, you would be surprised at the findings, because in big-time college football and basketball, the drop-off can be significant between Division I and II — but not in college men’s golf:

  • 71.18 D1

  • 72.68 D2

If you compare just the Top 10 Teams:

  • 71.05 D1

  • 72.29 D2

Individually, 11 Division II men’s golfers are ranked in the Golfstat Cup Top 100, which measures all college player’s scoring average versus par — no matter division level — including 3 in the Top 25

  • 3-69.78 (Florida Southern)

  • 15-69.80 (University of Colorado-Colorado Springs)

  • 25-71 (West Florida)

Other Notable Division II Early Signings among the Top 26-80 (80 teams make Regionals):

  • Average JGS Class Ranking: 677, with a 2062 (No. 71 Tusculum-Tennessee/Wisconsin)

  • Lowest Rankings: No. 40 Grand Valley St.-Michigan: 168 (MI); 182 (MI)

  • 3 Top 182

  • 5 Top 339

  • 9 Top 500

  • 15 Top 600: 60%

  • In-State: 50%

  • In-State or Regional: 72%

  • 5 International: 16%


If you average out the 2017 JGS Class Ranking for the Top 80 Division II Early Signings, you get: 593.5.

So just as I proved in Blog 1 that to be seriously considered for Division I men’s golf, you need to be at least Top 600 in your JGS Class Ranking, I have also proven that if you want to have a great chance to play top-level Division II golf — meaning having a chance to play in regionals as a team — you should also be around Top 600 as well, in addition to sticking to schools in your state or at least your region.

It is also important to simply put division level aside and simply ask yourself if a school has everything you want and need:

  • Athletically

  • Academically

  • Socially

  • Financially

I hope you found this information informative. In my next Blog entry, I will make the case for Division III and NAIA men’s golf.

In the mean time, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Kind Regards,

Brendan Ryan, CEO

Golf Placement Services