If you have a son or daughter that has played COGJA tournaments during the summer, you’ve likely heard juniors and other parents talking about getting ready for the high school season or maybe even finding a place to play collegiately. This is an exciting time for junior golfers as they continue to grow and their games improve. If your child shows an active interest playing golf competitively at the high school or college level, it’s important that you’re both armed with the right information to make the experience the best it can be.
High School Golf
Every year, Central Oregon high schools field some of the most competitive boys and girls golf teams in the state. High school golf is a little different from the individual COJGA tournaments your child plays however. While players still keep their own score, team scores are calculated by counting the four lowest scores out of five players in a tournament. Having the added element of playing for a team fosters an environment of being part of something greater than yourself and pushing each other to get better each and every day.
High school golf season in Oregon starts in February and runs through the middle of May when the State Championships for every classification are held. Even though the weather can be cold and blustery, the spring high school golf season is a great opportunity for juniors to not only play some of the best courses in the state, but have their games in top form by the time the summer tournament season comes around.
If your child is intimidated by trying out for their high school team or worried that they won’t get to play, it’s important to remember that the lineup often changes for every tournament at both the varsity and junior varsity levels. Most coaches will hold qualifying rounds between tournaments to give the best players a chance rise to the top for the next tournament. So just because a player doesn’t qualify for one tournament, they will likely have a chance to get into the lineup for the next one.
Maybe your child is in high school and entertaining the thought of playing golf in college. Maybe they have even been contacted by college coaches via a phone call or a letter. This is an exciting time for junior golfers. Unfortunately, both parents and their children aren’t always armed with the proper knowledge to navigate the recruiting process and find a school and program that’s the best fit.
The single most important question to keep in mind is what kind of experience does your child want to have? Do they want to be part of a program that is one of the best in the country and highly competitive? Or is having the opportunity to regularly be in the lineup and play as much as possible more important?
Many parents and juniors think that playing golf at the Division One level is the only opportunity to play college golf. This mindset couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, some of the best players to ever come out of the state of Oregon played college golf at smaller schools that don’t compete at the Divison One level.
If your high school golfer has ambitions of playing at the next level, they will probably start to hear from coaches during their junior year of high school. This is when college coaches are allowed to make contact with high school players and start the recruiting conversation.
Maybe your child isn’t hearing from as many coaches as they would like or they have their eyes set on a particular school or two. This is where reaching out to coaches directly comes into play.
So how does the process work? The first thing any aspiring collegiate golfer should do is put together a playing resume that includes tournament results and scores listed from oldest to most recent. Next you’re going to need a personalized introductory letter that lets a coach get to know the player as a person. Here you can highlight academic successes, extracurricular activities and any other notable achievements. If you don’t hear anything back right away from coaches, don’t stress as they receive hundreds of letters and resumes from junior players all over the world. You may even have to send multiple letters before your hear something back.
Whether your child is being actively recruited by multiple schools or sending out letters and resumes to places they’d like to play, having the Ping American Collegiate Golf Guide is an absolute must. This book contains updated information on every scholarship and non-scholarship program in the country and answers virtually every imaginable question about the recruiting process.
If you’re still feeling intimidated or all the information seems like it’s too much to handle, you might want to consider hiring a consultant that specializes in helping high school golfers find the perfect fit at the college level. Most of these consultants are former college coaches themselves and are experts in navigating the entire process and finding the best school and program for the individual. Some of the most notable consulting companies are Second Nine Golf, Red Numbers Golf and Road to College Golf.
If your child is looking to crack into the varsity lineup on their high school team for the first time or trying to decide between scholarship offers to play at the collegiate level, the fact remains that opportunities to play golf competitively abound. While the process of accessing these opportunities can be stressful, it’s imperative not to lose site of the bigger picture. At the end of the day, golf is just a game and it needs to remain fun for everyone involved.