What Is Your Ideal Time Commitment for Playing College Golf?
Thu Jun 20, 2013 by John H. Brooks
Like most junior golfers today, you have probably established playing college golf as one of your top goals. Through continued hard work, both in the classroom and on the golf course, this goal is certainly attainable. As you begin to research and visit college campuses on your “best fit” list, consider—first and foremost—the time requirements necessary to play collegiate golf. Also understand that this time requirement differs between the NCAA’s three divisions.
Analogous to seeking employment, are you interested in a full-time, part-time, or volunteer job? How much time do you actually plan to spend practicing and competing in golf during your college career? Golf can be extremely time-consuming, and most Division I coaches expect you to be “full-time” in terms of your commitment level to the sport. The majority of these programs also award athletic scholarships; therefore, the university expects you to “work” more in return for the financial aid. While the NCAA allows coaches to schedule and monitor golf practices while in season for up to 20 hours per week, most Division I golfers spend at least another 10 to 20 hours weekly working on their golf games outside the scheduled team practices. Most Division I golfers also spend a significant amount of their vacation time (holidays, summers, etc.) playing, practicing, and competing in amateur tournaments. Is this the right fit for you?
On the other end of the college golf spectrum, NCAA Division III programs offer a competitive golf arena that would resemble a volunteer work environment. Since there are no athletic scholarships, the student-athletes choose their respective Division III schools for a myriad of factors but not solely to play golf. These golfers are very serious about the game; however, they never let athletics dominate their college experience. Instead they create an equal balance between academics, golf, and social activities, resulting in less time being allocated to golf. Division III student-athletes occasionally miss practice time to focus on academic or social commitments and typically participate in a study-abroad program or internship during one or more of their summer vacations. Coaches of these student-athletes understand the balance and encourage their players to experience other activities while in college. Keep in mind that some Division I programs (Ivy League for example) may follow a more similar path to Division III, especially in cases where they do not offer athletic scholarships. Does this sound like a good fit for you?
The final option is NCAA Division II, which can be viewed as a hybrid of what has been previously discussed. Division II programs are permitted to offer athletic scholarships (less than Division I), and in most cases they expect their student-athletes to spend a significant amount of time competing in their sport. This expectation falls below that of a typical Division I
program (similar to part-time work), and there is more flexibility with missing team practices for either academic or social commitments. Many Division II student-athletes compete during vacation periods but may also be involved in internships, part-time jobs or, in some cases, a study-abroad program. Is this possibly an ideal fit for you?
Playing golf at the collegiate level requires a time commitment from the student-athlete. As you target potential “best fit” schools, consider this requirement and select the NCAA division that coincides with your goals and expectations for playing golf at the collegiate level. You have options.
Continued success as you navigate junior golf and manage college placement!