Earning a golf scholarship is about more than just shooting low scores.
It’s an easy mistake to make, to assume that universities are looking solely for proficiency in the game, and that shaving off strokes will boost one’s chances of landing a coveted financial lift on the way to making tuition.
Play is important, of course, but it’s not the only factor in determining who gets a scholarship.
Colleges and coaches want more than just solid players. They want players who will graduate, players who show commitment to the game. To improve one’s chances of winning a scholarship, it helps to understand just what universities are looking for in their potential golfing stars.
Right off the bat, schools are looking for scholarship candidates who can follow the basic rules. Students who intend to pursue NCAA scholarships need to take certain basic steps to demonstrate their seriousness. This starts with registering with the NCAA’s Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse. Getting the paperwork straight shows an ability to see beyond the first green.
Keep up your grades. Student athletes are students first. They come to college to hone their intellectual capacity and coaches are well aware of this. They want players to succeed in tournaments, but they are equally concerned with their players’ ability to thrive in the classroom. NCAA rules say a player must pass 16 academic core courses in high school and have an SAT or ACT score that meets the Eligibility Center’s sliding scale before they can compete as a freshman in college. Academic success can help highlight a potential scholarship winner.
Show them the highlights. Coaches want to track your tournament play, but not necessarily minute by minute. To compete for a scholarship a student should keep coaches updated on their plans to take part in significant tournaments, while at the same time understanding that a coach won’t show up for every match. Given the limitations of their own schedules, many are selective about the tournaments they will attend, and a savvy scholarship candidate will keep coaches notified about the tournaments that matter most.
Breadth of play counts too. Scholarships go to those who can show a high degree of versatility, playing in a cross-section of tournaments, competing at different skill levels. Schools look for athletes who can demonstrate not just skill but range.
Universities want to see rigor. Scholarships go to those who deliberately hone that quality. This can be demonstrated in a number of ways. A player may have a specific workout regimen, practicing certain shots and developing certain skills according to a rigid schedule. They may have particular targets in mind, and milestones intended to mark progress. The main point is the display of seriousness, and the student’s ability to demonstrate a methodical commitment to ongoing improvement.
Dedication is a key element in determining who wins a golf scholarship. A sunny Sunday is one thing, but the willingness to go out on the links on a drizzly Tuesday after a long day of classes and homework, that shows dedication to the game, strength of character, and resolve. These are the factors that help ensure success in a scholarship recipient.