One of the most crucial decisions for high school seniors is deciding which college to attend. For athletes, choosing to play a sport they are passionate about adds another layer of difficulty to that decision. If you are interested in pursuing a collegiate golf career, here is what you need to know.
NCAA Division I:
In order for an athlete to play at the Division I level there are a couple requirements for all high school students. All students need to take 10 out of 16 core courses and 7 out of the 10 of those need to be in English, Math or Science. GPA is a very important aspect and the students looking to be recruited need at least a 2.3. This is what leads students to being considered for an athletic scholarship. A small percentage, approximately 2 percent, are rewarded with a full ride. Full scholarships cover everything from tuition, room and board, and even your course books. Most students will receive partial scholarships which helps to cover some of these costs. The athletic programs’ budgets are based solely on supporting the team.
To play golf in this division, you are required to be an excellent golfer. In order to play, one has to be ranked in the top of the leaderboard for all state and regional tournaments. The average scores for men are on the low end a 65 and on the high end a 75. For the women, the average scores can be anywhere from 66 to 78.
NCAA Division II:
To be a Division II athlete, there are similar requirements to Division I. All students have to complete 16 core classes and need to maintain at least a 2.2 GPA for high school graduation. This is what leads to a school deciding if a scholarship should be rewarded. Partial scholarships are awarded the most often in order to help students cover some of their costs. For any DII athlete, academics and athletics are equally important. Teams are also encouraged to be involved in the community. The athletic budgets aren’t as big as Division I, but receiving free equipment varies between each school.
To play golf at the Division II level, you have to still be a well-rounded golfer. This requires one to play in regional and state tournaments, but don’t have to be in the top of the rankings. The average scores for men are between 67-77. The average scores for the women can be anywhere between a 68 and an 82.
NCAA Division III:
Being a Division III athlete is the easiest NCAA division to participate in. All the requirements for a high school student are the same as Division II. The only main difference is that Division III athletes cannot be rewarded with a scholarship. If a scholarship is given, it is need based which means it comes from academics and not athletics. This is because this division is based on academics as the top priority, and athletes who do play at this level only do it to continue their love for the sport. This is the largest division in both participants and the number of schools. This gives students more of an option of picking a school that is a right fit for them. These schools have smaller athletic budgets so there is not a lot of free equipment and gear given to them.
To play golf at the Division III level you have to be a good golfer. There is no requirement to play in state and regional tournaments, but if done it will help one’s overall appeal to schools. Playing in this division is very laid back compared to the others. The average score for men can be anywhere within 68-80. For women, the average scores are between 70-92.
The NAIA stands for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and is one of the lesser known division levels that one can compete at in college. NAIA schools are generally on the smaller side and typically have a religious background. A golfer can receive both athletic and academic scholarship money when competing at a NAIA school and from a competitive standpoint, the NAIA is very comparable to a NCAA Division II golf program. In order to be eligible academically to compete at the NAIA level, you must meet two of three following requirements: Maintain a 2.0 GPA in high school or higher, graduate in the top half of your class or Achieve a minimum of 16 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT.
To compete at the NAIA level you need to be averaging 72 -80 in tournament play for men and 75-95 for women. Coaches at the NAIA level want to see local, regional and some national placement in junior tournaments.
The National Collegiate Club Golf Association is the governing body for club golf across the country. If you attend a school without a varsity team, aren’t quite good enough to play varsity, or don’t have that much time to commit to golf, the NCCGA is right for you. This association allows for students to have the opportunity to play golf in a competitive way, while meeting other players from around the country. All the programs are co-ed and the tournaments are on the weekends so students don’t have to miss a class, which is different than any of the divisions. Anybody is allowed to play, no one gets cut or is turned away. Playing club golf can leave you with lifelong friends and a lifetime of success.