Over the summer you have been sending countless emails and college golf resumes off to college coaches, not to mention the relentless follow-ups and voicemails. Although the collegiate golf recruiting process is tedious at times, persistence does pay off. As we approach the end of the summer months, college campus visits peak for high school golfers nationally. College campus visits are exciting, but it is important you are well prepared to make a good impression on the college coach. In this article I will highlight some best practices to prepare for a campus visit with a college golf coach.
Official vs. unofficial visit
Many times golfers and parents will ask what is the difference between an official and unofficial visit. In short, the only difference is who is paying for the visit (travel, lodging, entertainment). An “unofficial visit” is any visit made by you or your parents to a college campus paid for by you or your parents. An “official visit” is any visit made by you or your parents to a college campus paid for by the college. These expenses may include: transportation, room and meals and reasonable entertainment expenses.
When can I take these visits?
Unofficial Visit: Coaches or athletic staff of a college cannot engage with a student athlete on an unofficial visit before August 1st of a student athlete’s Junior year. A student athlete can still visit a college before that time, but cannot schedule a meeting or visit with the coach while on campus.
Official Visit: Families can go on an official visit to meet with a college coach starting August 1st before their Junior year.
**This is for NCAA DI & DII schools
As simple as it may seem, it is important that you dress appropriately for a college campus visit, especially if you are able to meet with the coach. The biggest item to remember here is to be yourself, but also you want to avoid making a bad first impression to the coach. What to avoid: Jeans (you wouldn’t wear jeans on the golf course would you?), any shirts with profanity or in appropriate logos, wrinkled clothes, dirty sneakers. Try to avoid wearing a hat while with the coach, signaling a small sign of respect. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but ask yourself if you what you are wearing is making a positive first impression to the college coach you are meeting.
Photo Credit: Johnson and Wales University
Who talks? Parents or athletes?
Asking Mom and/or Dad to join you on a campus visit is a great idea. However, it’s important to understand who needs to do the talking and when. If you are able to sit down with the coach in their office, make sure that YOU the student athlete answer any questions the coach directs at you, not your parents. When the talks turn more toward scholarships, cost and financial aid, it is totally appropriate for your parents to join in the conversation. Keep in mind that the college coach is interviewing you to play for your team, not your parents. Be prepared to answer questions and give honest and truthful answers.
Questions to ask /scholarship talk
When you are visiting with a college coach, it is important to have questions prepared to ask and these questions can vary from school to school. Your goal needs to be that when you leave campus that day, every question you had for the coach going into the visit should be answered.
The scholarship talk with the coach can be a bit awkward, but if you frame the questions in the right way, you will impress the coach and get answers you are looking for. Here is a good example on how to ask about scholarship money:
“What is a typical scholarship range for an incoming freshman with a game at my level? And what would I have to accomplish early in my collegiate career to realize an increase in that scholarship?”
Scholarship timing is also important to ask:
“Is there a timeline that I need to be following to give you my final decision by?”
Photo Credit: Middlebury Athletics
Meeting the team
If the opportunity presents itself to meet the team and some of the players, take advantage! It is crucial that you get to know the overall culture and feel of the school and team before making a decision whether or not to attend. Ask questions to the team, get to know what they like about the school, what they don’t, what is a typical day like etc. The more questions you can ask, the better prepared you will be to make the right decision for your college golf years.
Don’t just take it from me, check out this article from Andrew Tursky, a former NCAA Division I collegiate golfer and now editor in chief of GolfWRX, highlighting important factors of what to look for during your campus visit
Next steps and follow up techniques post visit
After the visit, it is important to ask the coach about easiest way to communicate with them and how often to stay in touch. If there were talks on scholarship or a playing opportunity, understanding the timeline is crucial. Be sure to send the coach a hand written thank you card. Small things like this can go a long way putting you over the top from another player with a similar game.
Be yourself on the visit, ask questions, be respectful and polite to anyone you meet on campus. These visits are a big step in getting you closer to realizing your dream and goal of becoming a collegiate golfer!