Junior Golfer: Tips for Getting a Golf Scholarship

Tip # 1: Start Early!

If you are an avid junior golfer and you dream of playing golf in college on scholarship, it is important that you start your preparation early. The following tips will help you get going.

Tip # 2: Make a Wish List

During freshman or sophomore years begin a wish list of the things you value most for your college experience. Start keeping notes of “needs and wants” as they evolve during your high school years.

Things to consider when you check out schools:

  • proximity to home
  • size
  • campus
  • city
  • climate
  • level of competition
  • academic reputation and your academic interests
  • cost
  • quality of the golf program
  • practice facilities

As you get closer to graduation and begin the recruiting process, you will also want to weigh factors like:

  • opportunity for partial or full scholarship
  • personality of the coach and his or her coaching style
  • your odds of being able to make the traveling team
  • current team members

Tip # 3: Pay Attention to These Three “Pre-College Musts”

Think of your preparation for college golf as falling into 3 important categories. And be prepared to do your best in each to give yourself the ultimate opportunity to play golf at the college of your choice on a golf scholarship.

One… Pay Attention to Grades & Entrance Exams

Be sure that you do not sacrifice grades for your golf. Every class you take in high school will count toward your GPA (grade point average). And you want to keep your GPA as high as possible to give yourself the best opportunity to attend the college of your choice and get at least a partial scholarship.

Aim for at least a 3.0 all through high school. Different colleges have different requirements but you can always visit the web sites of the colleges you are interested in to see their current entrance requirements.

You will also want to check with your high school counselor to be sure that you are taking all the high school courses that are required for college entrance.

And finally, you will want to be sure that you do your best to prepare for your college entrance exams. This will include the PSAT during the fall of your junior year and the SAT and ACT during your senior year. You can get help preparing for these exams on the College Board web site or search the web for one of the private companies that offer exam preparation courses.

Two… Keep Building Your Skills

Depending on your school, playing on your high school team can be invaluable for gaining experience in competition and for establishing tournament stroke averages.

But, more and more, college coaches are looking at player results and ranking from competition outside of high school. This puts added importance on playing in local, regional, state and national level tournaments.

Consider joining and playing on one or more of the popular junior golf tours in your region as well as some national events. The most noticed by far is the AJGA –it is said to be the single best way to get exposure to coaches, especially if you want to earn a full scholarship.

You can find current information on other junior tours by signing on for the on-line Ping Golf Guide. This guide is also loaded with information to help you get ready for college golf.

Different coaches look for different things in a player, some of which can depend on the coach’s own personality and philosophy, as well as the specific needs of his or her team at that time.

To get an idea what scores you need to post to be considered by various colleges including NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA schools, you can sign on for the most recent on-line Golfstat Prep Report.

Believe it or not, coaches do look for more than low stroke averages and top finishes and high rankings. Based on our many interviews and work with college coaches, we find great coaches are also watching for:

  • how you manage your emotions
  • tough-mindedness under pressure
  • ability to remain focused
  • maturity and self-sufficiency
  • how you manage tension

You may recognize that these are 5 of the 8 Champion Personality Traits that we discovered through our studies of the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players.

Improving your mental skills is absolutely necessary for you to perform in competition and in front of those coaches when they are scouting for players. The bigger the tournament and the more coaches watching, the harder it will be for you to perform like you know you can, if your mental skills are not strong enough.

If you feel you are weak in any of these areas take steps to strengthen them well before your junior and senior years when you know you need to perform. Our Mental Game Builder Package of online products including our Mental Skills Assessment and Champion Personality Traits Comparison will help you build that strong mental game so you can perform when they are watching, when it matters.

To get your Mental Game tuned up fast, our Level I Mental Game Builder weekend school includes the Mental Game Builder Package and will give you 15 hours in class and on the course working with us in person to really tune up your mental game. Includes the use of our Mind Meter all weekend too. Limited to 4 players, this school is ideal for Junior Golfers, 14 and up.

Improving your mental game is the fastest way to improve your performances. We have had many players shoot some of their personal best scores the day after attending the weekend schools. Mental instruction will not hurt your play like physical lessons or quick fixes can.

The college coaches cannot ask you to provide them your Champion Personality Profile Comparison for golf but they will be impressed if you do. Getting the Mental Game Builder Package and attending a Level I School will stand out on your golf resume. They show that you know how important the Mental Game is and are working to improve yours.

Finally, you will want to use one of the many available on-line services that allow you to post your stats and golf resume, like Junior Golf Scoreboard.

Three…Stay on Top of Application & Recruiting

If you haven’t already, during your junior and senior years you will want to start making “unofficial” visits to the top colleges on your wish list.

Begin communicating with coaches at the colleges topping your wish list by calling or e-mailing so that you can introduce yourself, or schedule an unofficial visit. Frequent emails about your progress, including successes and failures with what you learned from them will show your interest and effort to improve, motivation. They will help the coach get to know you.

If you call the coach and leave a message, do not expect a return call. NCAA rules prevent this unless it is after July 1st and you are a senior. If the coach does not answer the phone, just keep calling until you can connect and schedule your visit.

Keep in mind that NCAA rules allow coaches to meet with prospects and their parents at any time as long as the meeting occurs on campus.

Tip # 4: Stay Realistic but Optimistic!

As you do your best to win a golf scholarship, stay realistic. Here are the numbers.

For the Men

  • At the Division 1 level, 301 universities have golf teams for men. There are 4.5 scholarships available per team that can be divided. That makes a total of 1354.5 scholarships that can be divided for men at Division 1 schools. Teams carry from 7-12 players. Only a few leave every year.
  • At the Division 2 level, 208 universities have golf teams for men. There are 3.6 scholarships available per team to be divided among the players. A total of 748.8 scholarships are offered for men in Division 2 schools.

For the Women

  • At the Division 1 level, 256 universities have golf teams for women. There are 6 scholarships available per team. A total of 1536 scholarships are offered to women.
  • At the Division 2 level, 139 universities have golf teams for women. There are 5.4 scholarships available per team to be divided among the players. A total of 750.6 scholarships are offered to women in Division 2 .

The point is, there are far more great golfers than there are available scholarships. Your commitment to the steps outlined here will greatly increase your odds of winning a golf scholarship.

Keep in mind:

  • it is more likely that men will sign for at best a half or partial scholarship their first year
  • depending on overall performance, a recruit might not even be considered for a full scholarship until junior or senior year
  • if a player is recruited but no scholarship money is available, it is advisable to at least request money for books to secure a more “official” space on the team

And finally, if you do not get recruited by the 4 year schools don’t be disheartened. You could still go on to have a great college golfing experience, and earn a scholarship by giving serious consideration to quality 2 year schools. Consider this quote from a respected NJCAA coach.

“A large percentage of my players have transferred to 4-year universities after graduating with their AA degree and have continued their college education and golf careers, many receiving golf scholarships to pay for their education.

The transition from a 2-year school to playing at a 4-year college is quite easy due to the competitive schedules we have during the year mainly competing against 4-year universities.

The exposure my players have received to the 4-year level coaches while competing in these events is exceptional. I have had numerous success stories including players winning national championships at the NCAA level.”

Tip # 5: Keep It Fun!

In closing, stay pro-active and keep your efforts to win a golf scholarship fun.

Just like on the golf course, put your energies into the things you can control, let go of the things you cannot control, and take pride in the fact that you are giving your best.

Good luck!

Please contact us is you have a particular situation or challenge or are just lost about what to do. We want to help.


Articles currently posted include:

How Many Junior Golf Tournaments are Too Many?

Tips for Parents of Struggling Junior Golfers

Make the Most of Your Window of Opportunity


Important message for our readers… Our goal is to provide you general information and advice on all subjects covered at GolfPsych.com and is not to be used as a substitute for any professional service, including medical, psychological, legal, financial, etc. For individualized expert advice or assistance we encourage you to seek the services of a competent professional. The authors specifically disclaim any liability or responsibility for loss, injury or damages, personal or otherwise, which are allegedly incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the information on this site.

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27 Responses to Junior Golfer: Tips for Getting a Golf Scholarship

  1. Corey miniature golf course construction December 11, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Hi Dr. Deborah, what is the minimum and maximum ages to get a scholarship? Will a 30year old enthusiast still eligible for such privilege?

    • GolfPsych December 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      Typically, college age, say from 18 to 22 would be the usual ages that are able to gain a college scholarship. As long as you have not used up your eligibility under the NCAA rules, you could be any age older if the golf coach wanted you to play on the team. There is no age limit for attending college.

      • cynthia daneshfar March 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

        VET YOUR COACH! Collegiate Coaches recruiting you need to be vetted. Having two students who played collegiate golf on scholarship was great but……the coaches will really sell their program to you and it is rarely what they say. Remember, being a student athlete is a JOB. The coaches can be ridiculous and not care that your education is an equally important factor. Insist on speaking with current and past team members to get the “real story” about your future coaches practices.

        Seriously, a lousy coach can ruin an athlete and make for a miserable collegiate experience.

        • GolfPsych March 17, 2014 at 12:46 am #

          HI Cynthia,

          Obviously you were less than impressed with the college coaches your students experienced. This is a word of warning. Just because they are college coaches does not guarantee that they are going to run a good program or be beneficial for your student athlete. Spend some time talking to alumnae and any others that have direct experience with this coach. Multiple feedback should tell the story.
          Thanks for your comment.

    • GolfPsych March 4, 2014 at 12:11 am #

      Hi Money,

      There is no age limitation to earning a college golf scholarship. More important is your competition track record and your academic track record. Coaches need both. Your teammates won’t care as long as you are producing for the team.

  2. Matthew Smalley December 26, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    Hi, I’m a Junior in HS, have a 4.4 in a 5 pt system.
    I play two sports: baseball and golf
    I’d really like to win a scholarship for either because my family has no money to send me to college. Can you tell me if it makes sense to try for a junior college for two years while continuing to improve my skills and then try for a division 1 college scholarship.

    • GolfPsych March 4, 2014 at 12:08 am #

      Hi Matthew,

      Sorry for the delayed response. I cannot comment on the chances of a baseball college scholarship. The chances of getting a full ride college scholarship for golf are slim. You have to be a top player playing in the best Junior competitions to have a chance for the full ride. But earning a partial golf scholarship and then applying for other scholarships, perhaps for academic and economic reasons could provide the balance. Borrowing for your college education is another way to raise money for your expenses but you should think carefully before you take that step. Jobs out of college are not guaranteed and paying back student loans is a major burden when you are first starting.

      The Junior College route can be a good one. The tuition is lower. It gives you a chance to demonstrate your golf and academic skills to the Division I coaches. For the coaches you will be more of a known producer than a high schooler promising great things. Which school you graduate from matters more than which one you started in.

      Good Luck!

  3. Hunter February 16, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    I’m a sophmore in highschool and am hoping that my game takes it to the next level this year of averaging in 70s, but my grades seem to be the biggest challenge about ever getting a chance at a scholarship, 2.2-2.5 gpa throughout highschool so far, and I know there’s no way a college would consider me with those. What would you recommend for someone living in northeast ohio and only having a small window for golfing daily?

    • GolfPsych March 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

      Hi Hunter,

      Thanks for asking. The NCAA has made the grade point average of the individual players and the team important for the Coaches and the schools. This means that the Coaches are looking for good players that should be good students as well. They cannot afford to pull the team grade point average down or recruit a player that may struggle to be eligible to play.

      Aside from raising your grade point average in high school and getting good SAT scores, you could think about going to a Junior College program for the first two years. This would allow you to show the coaches that you can be a better student and also demonstrate your golf abilities through college level play.

      The good news is you are a Sophomore and still have time to raise those grades! As to the weather and limited practice, that is true in the Winter and early Spring, late Fall, but in the Spring and Summer you have really long days to practice and play. Don’t let the weather and limits limit your attitude about what is possible. Embrace your limits and be tougher minded about them.

  4. AMANDEEP NIJJER March 28, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    My 8yr daughter is studying in 4th class and playing golf. we are presently staying in chandigarh, india. what are the prospects for my daughter to seek golf scholarship in a school in usa?

    • GolfPsych April 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Hi Amandeep,

      The prospects for your daughter are hard to predict. She is very young. How well she plays by the time she is 15 and where she plays, how good the competition is will have the biggest effect on her chances.

      If she plays all her golf in India, which is not a very strong golf country at the moment, then it will be hard to impress the American coaches.

      Will she be able to play and compete in other countries or even travel to the USA to compete in the future?

      When she is 14, if she has performed well, then you should start contacting coaches to make them aware of her talent and record. Stay in touch with them all the way through her Senior year in high school, the 12th grade here.

      If your daughter has done well, then the chances are good.

  5. Mitchell April 2, 2014 at 2:37 am #

    Hi, I’m in grade 11 in high school (considered a junior in America), and I am hoping to get a scholarship in America for college. I consistently keep my rounds in the 70’s but hoping to take my game to the next level this season, my GPA is in around a 3.0-3.3 I would like to get them higher. I golf almost everyday during the season, what would you recommend for me to get a scholarship or make a career out of golf?

    thank you,

    • GolfPsych April 25, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

      Hi Mitchell,

      This is the time when you need to perform well to have a chance of being offered a scholarship to an American University.

      But just playing well is not enough for you. You need to let the coaches know you exist.

      Foreign players have been well accepted in a lot of American teams. Some coaches seem to prefer them.

      When you are identifying the schools you want to play for look at the players on the team and where they are from. If the team has a lot of foreign players, then that coach may be a better opportunity for you. However recruiting a foreign player also has higher costs for that coach so you need to be outstanding.

      One of our clients from Northern Europe set up a website about him and his golf and then identified over 50 schools and communicated by email monthly with all of those coaches.

      You have to perform well and you have to get the coaches attention.

      Good Luck

  6. Nick April 9, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    I am a junior in high school and i am hoping to get a golf scholarship. i have a 4.1 handicap and a 3.5 gpa on a 4 point system. If i keep imporving my golf game, what are my chances of getting a scholarship. Also what would my handicap need to get to to get some serious consideration.

    • GolfPsych April 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      HI Nick,

      Your chances of getting a golf scholarship are OK but I do not know enough about your competitive record. Where are you competing? The better your competitive results the better your chances but unless you are one of the top ranked juniors in the country you are unlikely to earn a full scholarship.

      As we indicated in the article, you need to contact the coaches actively to get noticed. You need to post good competitive results, high finishes, good scores, in good competitions.

      Your actual competitive stroke average needs to be 75 or better to have a good chance.

      Since you are a Junior, you need to perform well this Spring and Summer to get noticed. Work on your Mental Game will help.

  7. Thomas June 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    I currently live in england would be looking for a golf scholarship, would I have to perform at national level before the coaches would consider me or would I just have to impress them and show consistant golf when I was going to apply?

    • GolfPsych July 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Hi Thomas,

      The better the competition, the more impressed the coaches will be and the better your chances. They will be unimpressed with scores from rounds outside of competition. A short period of good scoring is not as impressive as a year or more of good scoring and consistency.

  8. Geoffrey July 11, 2014 at 4:33 am #

    I am going to be a junior in high school and have just really started getting into golf. Is there an amount of junior pga tournaments I can play in to still be eligible to play with my high school?

    • GolfPsych July 21, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      Hi Geoffrey,

      There is no relationship between playing junior tournaments and playing for your high school. The only problem I can see would be choosing to play in a junior tournament instead of doing what your high school coach wants you to do. If they want you to practice with the team instead then you have to choose. The junior tournaments are usually better competition than you get in your high school tournaments except for regionals and state high school tournaments. College coaches will be more impressed with other junior tournaments than with regular high school matches.

  9. Bella October 14, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    I’m a sophomore in high school and took off high school golf to play. Competitive tournaments like AJGAs and FCWTs. I can either go really low seventies, upper seventies and at the worst like an 84….. But my putting is causing inconsistencies to my golf game, my ball striking is really good and I hit the ball further than the majority of the field, but I’m a new comer to AJGAs etc. what do I have to shoot to get noticed by coaches like Norte dame and Purdue etc.? What are some things I should accomplish? I struggled a bit wi my grades freshman year and am improving.. I just have to boost my GPA

    • GolfPsych December 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

      Hi Bella,

      Playing AJGA and FCWT tournaments is excellent. Good performances on these tours will get the attention of the college coaches. Those particular schools you are interested in will have to tell you what they are looking for in scoring and in GPA. You are right you need to raise your GPA. It is very important to the college coaches too.

      One of the most important things for you to do is to contact those coaches and let them know that you are interested in their programs. They cannot contact you yet. You need to communicate with them often, say monthly, to let them know what you are playing in, how you did, what you are working on in your game and any setbacks and what you are doing to improve. Email them every month whether you have good news or not.

  10. John October 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    My daughter just finished her Sophmore HS golf season. Since there is no girls High school golf she played on the Boys team and has to play from the Mens tees. What is the best way to convey this to College caoches from a scoring perspective and will they take the longer courses into effect when evaluating.


    • GolfPsych December 19, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

      Hi John,

      Your daughter is obviously motivated to be playing on the boys team. This will raise her game and make girls competitions seem easy. The college coaches will take this into account but they will want to see her results from playing against other girls. There must be girls competitions that she can play in outside of your area? You need to make the effort to get her into a number of those competitions. How she does there will be most important to the college coaches.

      She is a Sophomore so she needs to begin playing in those girls tournaments as soon as possible and all through Junior and into her Senior year.

  11. Patrice Hedman October 28, 2014 at 1:50 am #

    My son is a Freshman at a large High School. We are wondering if it is better for him to go to a smaller school where he will have more opportunity to play more matches and be a higher ranked player or to stay in the larger school where he will play less, be ranked lower, but have more exposure due to it being such a well-known large high school? Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

    • GolfPsych December 19, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      Hi Patrice,

      The competitions he plays in high school are only one group of competitions he can play in. There are other possible competitions for him depending on where you live and if you can afford to travel for his golf. The AJGA competitions are the largest and most prestigious competitions with the best competition in the country. You probably have local or statewide organizations that hold regular golf tournaments. Here in Texas there are multiple Tours for Juniors.

      So whether he plays for his high school, is on the team or not, he can play good and probably better competitions outside of the High School tournaments and year round. High School seasons are usually only in the Spring or Fall.

      Many high school golf coaches are not very good coaches, more bus drivers. A good high school golf coach would be a better determinant of what school to play for than the size or possible playing opportunities in the high school program. A good coach will have lots of intersquad competitions and will take several teams to school competitions where possible.

  12. Parker September 23, 2015 at 3:58 am #

    Hi, I’m a sophmore playing as the number 1 on my high school golf team in New York. My high school is very small. My scores are usually low 80’s but I have been working hard with a coach, and I am close to bringing my scores into the 70’s. My GPA so far through high school is 3.8. My high school is in a very weak division, and the competition is almost never very good. I know coaches will never notice me in my high school matches. What kinds of tournaments should I be playing in to at least let coaches know I exist, and what kind of scores do I need to put up to get coaches to notice me. I know that qualifying for states is a good way, but what are the other options.

    • GolfPsych December 20, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

      Hi Parker, First of all right now is good timing for you. You are already playing number 1 on your high school team and in your Sophomore year. The coaches will be looking at your scores from now on. To make yourself attractive to the college coaches you need to lower your competitive stroke average, play the best competition you can find and raise your GPA as high as possible. A competitive stroke average around 74 or better will get noticed. Wins will get noticed. Playing well in AJGA tournaments will get noticed. Playing well in your State High School Championship will get noticed.

      But you also need to contact the coaches directly and frequently to make them aware you exist. There is a lot of competition and they are busy people. The contacts can be by email and they need to be every month. Pick 6-10 schools you would like to attend. Email all of them and give them an update of your progress and efforts every month. Give them the good and bad of your golf performance. If bad tell them why it happened and what are you doing about it. Also keep them up on your grade performance. Schedule a visit to campus to meet them. They cannot contact you yet, you have to contact them.

      Working on your mental game in a real way will also impress them. 🙂

      Good Luck!

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