I recently chatted with a high school sophomore who inspired me to write this post. She messaged me on Insta asking for golf practice and fitness advice because her goal is to play D1 or D2 college golf. I absolutely love sharing my best advice and tips on how to do this because my college experience was some of the best years of my life.
Let me preface this by mentioning I was not the best player on my team! I received a partial scholarship to Sacramento State, which I am so grateful for my education, experiences, and friends I received there. Even though I didn't always travel or turn pro after, I have a career I love which wouldn't have happened without playing college golf. Not to mention, I won Shotmakers! I probably wouldn't have gotten that opportunity either if I didn't play college golf.
Alright girl, let's dive into what YOU need to do to have a better chance of playing D1 college golf!
Step #1 - Lower Your Scores
If you want to play D1 or D2, definitely make it a goal to consistently break 90 by the end of your freshmen or sophomore year. For the end of your junior year, you should be consistently breaking 80. At the end of your junior year, you want to make sure you are playing from the middle or "white" tees (about 6000 yards) outside of high school golf. This will tremendously prepare you for collegiate tournaments.
- Stats. Keep your stats! After a few rounds, you'll be able to quickly see what area you need to improve on. Just make sure you are making time for your strengths too. 75% weaknesses, 25% strengths during practice sessions. When keeping stats, make sure you are writing your score, putts, fairways hit (Miss - Left, Right), green in regulation (Miss - Long, Short, Left, Right), up and down, and sand saves. You can also just put a small "s" in the corner of your up and down stats to indicate it was a shot from the sand. If you want a complete blog post on how to keep stats and analyze them - comment below or on one of my latest IG posts!
- Breathe during your pre-shot routine! Focusing on your deep breathing will release all of the negative thoughts in your head and have you focus on the present, letting your muscle memory take over. When I was on Shotmakers, I took a deep breath while lining up behind the ball and exhaling when I walked into my set up. Then, I take another deep breath while standing over the ball and begin my swing when I exhale.
- Patience is a virtue - swing changes take time so make sure you give them a few months to see results. If you haven't seen results in 6 months, evaluate whether you need to see a new coach, or if you are really implementing what your swing coach is telling you. "The 10,000 hour rule is a definite key to success" - The Outliers: The Story of Success (highly recommend you read this book!).
- Positive thinking - Golf is a mental game, and scoring is probably 90% or more of what's going on from ear to ear. Another recommended read is Winning the Battle Within by Glen Albaugh! . I saw him a couple times in college and what he taught me changed my mental game! If there is a mental performance coach in your area, definitely sign up for a few sessions!
- Practice, practice, practice, practice! Remember, practice makes progress, not perfection! Quality over quantity is important too. Trust and enjoy the process.
Step #2 - Tournaments
Planning your summer tournament schedule is very important to be seen by coaches. You should be sprinkling in tournaments throughout the year (when high school golf tournaments don't conflict), but the summer is when coaches typically do all of their scouting.
- National - Play in AJGA and other national leagues like USGA qualifiers, FCWT, and IJGT. The competition is fierce for these events so it will prepare you for college tournaments. College coaches are always at these events! I suggest playing in at least 2-3 of these over summer and throughout the year.
- Regional - Play in regional leagues that are a little more accessible but still have a competitive field. Mine was NCGA (Northern California Golf Association) so most likely there is an equivalent in your area! College coaches sometimes come out to these tournaments, usually if they are close by to the college. This should make up 25% of your schedule.
- Local - First Tee of (insert your area here!). The First Tee has chapters everywhere and these are super accessible. The field is smaller, so use these as good practice tournaments and take advantage their programs like the Nine Core Values, College Prep, and Life Skills. Coaches typically don't come out to these events but you should still play in them for the programs and friendships! This should make up 25% of your summer schedule.
Step #3 - Train
- Cardio is great for endurance and stamina to last 18 holes without exasperating all of your energy. I would recommend low intensity cardio like jogging, stairmaster, and biking. Aim for about 30 mins twice a week.
- Weights are so important for building muscle and power. I would meet with a trainer if you can. I'm sure there are great TPI or golf specific trainers in your area. Fit Golfer Girl has some good programs online especially stretches if you don't have access to anyone in person. Make sure you are stretching! Make sure to incorporate weights twice a week and stretching every day! (I have an exciting project in the works regarding fitness so stay tuned!).
- Yoga is also great for stretching as well as balance, flexibility, and mobility. Try to do yoga once a week! There's a ton of great ones online or on YouTube but going into a class is great if you're a beginner.
Step #4 - Prepare
- Make Lists - Figure out what you want in a school and start making a list of 30-50 schools you're interested in. Everything from location, size, programs, scoring average of the team, majors, party scene (sorry Mom and Dad, it's inevitable!), weather, student housing, etc. Also make sure you list out your interests and hobbies (for example, if you love fishing, are there good places to fish near the school?). Take the 16 Personalities test to help figure out more about yourself and what would be a good fit for you.
- YouTube Video - Create a YouTube video that you can embed in emails to coaches once you make your list. Make sure you introduce yourself, how long you've been playing, your GPA, scoring average, upcoming schedule, your hobbies outside of golf, and your swing, chipping, and putting. Include your resume with tournament stats and GPA as well.
- Email Template - Although you'll have all of this information in the YouTube video, make sure your tournaments results, scoring average, and stats are on a PDF form in resume format. You can find a great email template to send to college coaches here.
I hope this helps you in your journey to play D1 college golf! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask! Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "College Golf."