Most college coaches receive hundreds (or even thousands) of emails, phone calls, and text messages from prospects showing interest in their program. Many top-level coaches use their allotted 45 recruiting days to travel and evaluate players from all over the world. However, most college programs can only roster between 8 and 12 players, which means most programs can only acquire about two (2) players for each graduating class.
As a prospect, your responsibility is to identify your “best-fit” schools, do quality research, and communicate regularly with coaches during the recruiting process. However, even if you execute all of the above actions, it’s very likely that most prospects will still not have a great feel for the intricacies of the coaching philosophy, qualifying procedures, team rules, and more generally the ins and outs of the golf program.
That being said, not every school or university is created equal, and not every coach is a great role model, teacher, or mentor. Ultimately, prospects should base their final decisions on a combination of factors, but the head coach should be a small piece of the puzzle, not the one and final reason you decide to attend a school. Why? Because coaches come and go, so it’s important to ask yourself the question, “If the coach left tomorrow, could I still see myself playing 4 years of competitive golf at this school?” I can’t stress this enough. The current coach may resign or be fired after you sign the NLI. The NLI is binding for the university, not the coach. So, make sure you’re not basing 100% of your decision on the head coach.
Over the years, I’ve had the special opportunity to talk to hundreds of college golf coaches at every level in college golf. From those conversations and interactions, one thing is obvious – the best coaches have several of the same characteristics. Of course, no coach is perfect but the checklist below will help form a framework so you can separate the great coaches from the good coaches in college golf.
Great College Golf Coaches …
· Are noble mentors, leaders, and motivators
· Aren’t caught “off guard” or flustered easily
· Know when/how to motivate their players and are trusted by their team.
· Have faith and passion in their players
· Have faith and passion in their plan
· Demand perfection (or near perfection) in their players, on & off the course.
· Understand that winning is the only thing that they will be judged on
· Create realistic goals & expectations for themselves, their coaching staff and their players
· Successfully balance team activities, travel, recruiting, fundraising, and much more
· Learn from past experiences and take on traits of the best coaches they’ve worked for
· Expect to host tough and demanding team practices
· Have strong relationships with other coaches across the country at every level
· Enjoy the process of Coaching (even the long 36-hole days)
· Are open, honest, and completely transparent with their players
· Operate their program with clear and precise team rules
· Verbalize everything that is expected of them, their coaching staff and their players
· Expect their players to hold each other accountable
· Take time to listen and understand each of their players
· Put the “big-picture” in perspective, always
The list could go on-and-on, but use the above characteristics, motives, and regular practices to assist you during the recruiting process. When speaking with College Coaches, do not be afraid to ask questions on the topics above. The best Coaches will gladly discuss the expectations and standards of their program with you.
Best of luck on the recruiting trail,
Michael J. Smith
ForeCollegeGolf is a college placement and recruiting business where Mike aims to apply his background in competitive golf and recruiting education to help educate players, their families, and coaches about the college recruiting process.