I was hoping to start a thread in this topic for the benefit of those of us getting started down this road. All tips and advice most welcome. Son is HS Class of 2024. Main issue seems to be there are very few of these schools in year-round more or less golf weather…
I think the weather conundrum you describe is what makes golf somewhat unique compared to other niche sports (fencing, crew, squash, etc), in that the top golfers are not typically aiming for recruitment to high academic schools that aren’t also athletic powerhouses.
Some of this might have to do with incentive structures; specifically, professional touring pros have the ability to earn a very high income and worldwide recognition, unlike some of those other sports. Perhaps this explains why most top ranked juniors I have come across have aspirations to play professionally (or at least give it a real shot). Hard to do that if you can’t comfortably get outdoors 3-5 months a year, have to work with inferior (compared to top golf programs’) facilities, and face weaker competition.
Thanks. In our case, S24 does not intend to pursue professional golf. Golf is his hobby/passion and he is a very sociable guy who would likely go into some high net worth/institutional sales function in his career, so the varsity golf goal is a lifestyle and career differentiation strategy with a long term social/business development outlook. The focus on weather is mainly due to personal experience/familiarity and perhaps somewhat social as we live in the South. I would appreciate your views on the fit between that strategy and the low-ranked Div I and Div III varsity golf tracks. Would he be better off, for purposes of those goals, playing well organized club golf at say Wake or UVA, or playing Div III in NESCAC or PL or UAA team, or at a somewhat less academic/prestigious but weather-great place like say Sewanee or Centennial team? I know you won’t have the answers for my kid, and that academics will be a strong force in steering the boat (both in terms of challenge and balance), but I am guessing that many parents with golf kids have lived through those decisions, so I ask the question to all.
What about Washington & Lee? Selectivity, path to a business/finance career, weather, good golf program.
Many DIII programs have indoor facilities so weather need not be a factor in this decision. I wouldn’t let the reputation of the golf program drive the bus. If academics are his priority,there will be a good fit at many cold climate DIIIs.
Point taken re indoor facilities, but hard to imagine that is as much fun for someone who plays the game for the love of it (and its settings and surroundings as part of it).
Here’s how our son (a year behind yours) is thinking about the process:
- made a (ranked) list of ideal schools that would help achieve future academic/career objectives; he eliminates schools that won’t help him achieve his goals (e.g. if he is considering a specific major and the school doesn’t offer it, don’t even need to consider it); for him, the school’s academic reputation (could use typical college rankings list as a proxy), name (brand) recognition, financial stability (endowment $ per student as mentioned in another post) take priority over more subjective criteria
- cross reference that list with schools that
- have a varsity golf team (MIT, UChicago, Johns Hopkins, CalTech, Brown and Wash U are examples of fine schools that do not)
- he is likely to be able to be recruited for (or at least walk on and make the team if can get in on his own); determines this based on his ranking for his class (JGS) and compares to the class rank of historical recruits; looks carefully at the bios of existing team members (ranking, tournaments won/placed, etc)
- among those schools that satisfy the above, he then subjectively ranks the golf programs based on the following (in no particular order):
- reputation - does the school/coach have history of winning? where are they usually ranked (Golfstat)?
- culture - does school/coach have a history of athletes playing all 4 years? (some top academic schools are notoriously bad about this); how well he gets along with the coach and other players on the team during the recruiting process will also play a part in how well he grades this
- facilities - how are the practice facilities and home course? are they near campus and easily accessible?
- level of competition - ranking of teams they compete against, tournaments they usually are invited to
Based on the above, my son has come to the conclusion that there are only a few schools (maybe 4) that fit the above criteria and have playable weather year round, so this isn’t an important consideration for him.
As my son is early in the process, I don’t have specific knowledge about the difference between varsity at a lower ranked D1 or a D3 vs club at a higher ranked D1. However, based on your comment that his “varsity golf goal is a lifestyle and career differentiation strategy with a long term social/business development outlook”, I would think playing varsity would be superior to club in terms of working towards that objective.
Hope this helps.
There are also a number of D2 schools in Florida (Sunshine State Conference) and Georgia and the Carolinas that have business programs and great, almost year round, golf. Rollins, Tampa, Lynn all good options. Also, the travel between schools is less than going all over the NESCAC.
Texas and Arizona also have the weather and plenty of schools to choose from.