Earlier last week, many college golf programs “closed the books” on their Spring seasons with heartfelt messages posted on various social platforms. The NCAA canceled all athletic activities for the remainder of the Spring season. Professors were instructed to go home and move their courses online. University presidents asked freshmen and anyone living on campus to vacate university property. The NCAA verbally committed to reinstating eligibility to athletes who were affected in their Spring sport. Many college golf coaches are now at home with their families unable to do much besides answer phone calls and emails from prospects. Most high schools have followed suit, closing their doors during the Coronavirus scare and training their teachers to utilize online lessons. Some districts, counties, and municipalities were more prepared to “make the switch” to online school than others, which has left certain schools in certain areas of the country inoperable and scrambling to make things work.
What does this mean?
High-school aged students are “self-quarantining” and attempting to adjust to their new lifestyle. Many will miss significant life events, such as their Senior Year state championship or their graduation ceremony. Many are dealing with real stress. Many are uncertain of how to react in a time like this.
I think it’s safe to say, we are all experiencing this together, as one, for the first time.
So during this unpreceded and very uncertain moment in history… I’d like to provide some insight into how you can gain an advantage in the recruiting process and stay motivated.
How prospective student-athletes can take advantage of downtime during the COVID-19 outbreak…
o Stay disciplined to a set schedule, block off time for all academic needs
o Take this time seriously, your grades during this time will define your future in college and quite possibly the rest of your life.
o Set a schedule to accomplish your school-work - wake up and go about your normal daily routine just like you were in school
o Set up a workspace in a quiet, well-lit room
o Become comfortable with new online software, websites, & school-related resources
o Make sure to connect with teachers or peers in your class if extra help is needed
§ Schedule Testing – signup for a future testing date for the SAT (collegeboard.org) or ACT (act.org)
§ Prepare for testing – book study sessions, hire a private tutor, or use resources (magoosh.com)
§ Obtain transcripts from your high school & file them away for future use
§ With your transcripts or grade reports, make an honest assessment of your own academic record
§ Obtain Recommendation letters – ask 3 or 4 of your biggest supporters to write an endorsement about you academically, athletically and personally.
o Re-familiarize yourself with your statistics from past events, identify categories of improvement based on real PGA Tour strokes-gained data
o Revise your long-term goals & short-term “action plans” and your identified areas of improvement
o Set up a series of lessons with your swing Coach
§ Online vs. In-Person
§ Mechanics – pick 1 or 2 core fundamentals of your golf swing
§ Skill Development – games, drills, competition to hone and sharpen your skills
o If possible, consider a club fitting with a qualified club fitter in your area
§ Get creative and try at-home workouts
§ Live Stream – golf industry trainers are offering training sessions on Instagram live and YouTube
§ Use resources like PING College Golf Guide or the ForeCollegeGolf School Database to compile a list of “best-fit” schools
§ Use rating websites like www.niche.com to learn more about academic benchmarks, admissions factors, majors offered, financial aid, scholarships, and campus life.
§ Instead of campus tours, utilize virtual campus tours
· Online “viewer” campus tours on university websites
· YouTube videos
o University YouTube pages with specific videos for prospective students
o Student or amateur made videos – type in “A day in the life of a _________ University student”
· Social Media search
o University social media pages – i.e. Facebook groups or Twitter pages
o Search for hashtags on social media to view images of campus, social life at the university and other campus activities
§ Informational Emails –
· As a prospect, your main objective should not be to gather information from Coaches or to prove your “awesomeness” but instead to provide information to coaches and set a “next step” or a “plan of action”
· Provide relevant and unique insight into your life – who are you as a person, who are you as an academic and who are you as a golfer?
· Provide weekly or bi-weekly updates on you and the status of your life and any notable changes or happenings
· Provide a “call to action” at the end of each email in order to prompt a future phone call or ask a relevant question to continue email communication
§ Phone Calls –
· As a prospect, your main objective on phone calls should be to gather information that CANNOT be easily found online
· Reach out to coaches and programs which you believe will be proper fits for you
· Ask solid, thoughtful Q’s which require thoughtful responses from college coaches
o Stay disciplined to a set schedule, block off time for social activities
o Plan to have “get-togethers” with friends via FaceTime or Zoom webinar when time allows
o Assist your parents, siblings and other immediate family with things around the house, any essential trips or errands they need to make
As a prospective student-athlete and future college golfer, how you respond and utilize your time during the Coronavirus situation will set a precedent for your future. This is a time as a time to grow, develop and mature. Some will utilize it and move forward with a brighter future with their college endeavors and others will take a step backward and watch their college aspirations slowly diminish from their grasp.
Which will you choose to be?
I hope you choose to be the best version of yourself during this challenging and uncertain time in history.
Thanks for reading and stay safe!
Michael J. Smith
Mike Smith is the founder of ForeCollegeGolf, a college placement and recruiting business where his goal is to employ his background in competitive golf and recruiting education to help educate players, their families, and coaches about the college recruiting process.