Athletes from all over the world who are preparing themselves for a professional career in golf have benefited from scholarships within the American college system. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Jordan Spieth are just three names who have taken this route in order to be ready for their careers on the PGA Tour. In total, approximately 60% of all PGA Tour players played college golf and it looks like that number will rise even higher in the next few years.
The impact of international players has grown steadily over the last few years. Of all current men’s and women’s NCAA Division 1 golfers, almost 25% come from outside of the US. It is also important to remember that there is more than one path to career success.
You are not confined to only one division in order to pursue a professional career after college. Several PGA Tour players chose routes other than Division 1 to prepare themselves and enjoyed great success in their careers. All whom received golf scholarships.
NCAA Division 2, NAIA, and NJCAA have all produced some top-level professionals, such as two time Masters champion Bubba Watson (played Junior College at Faulkner State before transferring to the University of Georgia), former US Open champion Lee Janzen (played Division 2 at Florida Southern) and PGA Tour winners Rocco Mediate, Joe Durant, and Cameron Beckman. This really shows how high the level of play is in all divisions and why players should always keep in mind that there are more great teams, coaches, and locations available than just the roughly 300 division 1 programs.
We have put together a selection of golf scholarship videos that will help you learn how to receive a golf scholarship, behind the scenes at a NCAA D1 and D2 national golf championships, interview from ASM Scholarships Co-founder Ernie Els and Sir Nick Faldo involvement with ASM Scholarships.
Everything you need to know about Golf scholarships
Landing a golf scholarship can be tough—but it’s not impossible. Of the 1,318 schools that offer men’s golf, 972 of them offer athletic scholarships. However, these programs operate on an equivalency method, meaning coaches distribute their funds across multiple athletes, making full-ride scholarships rare. And even though NCAA Division 3 coaches can’t offer athletic aid, they tend to create scholarship packages with other sources of money. In this section, we break down everything you need to know when it comes to men’s golf scholarships.
The table details the total number of golf scholarships at each division level. Men’s golf is an equivalency sport, which means college coaches are given a pool of money to award to recruits and current roster players. They can divide these funds into partial scholarships, allowing them to recognize and award multiple athletes on their team. For this reason, full-ride scholarships are extremely rare in men’s golf and student-athletes need to supplement their athletic scholarships with other forms of aid.
Keep in mind that these are the maximum number of golf scholarships per team. If the school isn’t fully funded—and many golf programs aren’t, especially at the Division 2 level—then they will have fewer scholarship opportunities than listed above. It’s important to establish relationships with college coaches to better understand the financial opportunity available.
The NCAA D1 Council adopted legislation that loosened regulation regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not tied to athletic ability. Effective August 1, 2020, golf programs will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against the maximum athletic scholarship limit. Before this rule change, athletes had to meet certain criteria for their additional aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.
Golf teams will still have a maximum athletic scholarship cap, but student-athletes can seek to add as much need-based aid and academic scholarships as they qualify for. This rule change should allow golf programs that have the funds to extend more money to families and athletes that need it—especially at pricier private colleges.
How to qualify for a golf scholarship?
You might notice that men’s golf rosters tend to be smaller, with the average team size being made up of 10 golfers. Here’s why—only the top five golfers travel to tournaments, and once at the event, the best four compete each day. Therefore, when it comes to offering scholarships, coaches typically recognize the top five to seven athletes on their team.
That’s why student-athletes looking to land an athletic scholarship need to know exactly what each coach is looking for in their recruiting. There’s actually an equation that many coaches use to determine who they’ll recruit—they find the average score of their best four players and subtract it by two. So, for example, let’s say a team’s best scores from the top four golfers adds up to 300, making the average 75. In other words, that specific coach will want to recruit student-athletes who score a 73 or better. Of course, in some cases where the college is already extremely competitive, this equation isn’t always foolproof. But it’s a great way for a coach to determine how they can better their program. More importantly, it’s a useful tactic for student-athletes to help them determine where they can be competitive and earn a roster spot. Remember, though, that coaches usually consider scores from courses at 6,600 yards or greater.
Beyond athletics, there are steps recruits can take to get on a coach’s radar:
Know the different division levels: Before reaching out to college coaches, student-athletes need to do their homework and learn about the different divisions. For example, which ones offer golf scholarships? And what scores do you need to qualify? In men’s golf, NCAA Division 1, Division 2, NAIA and junior colleges offer athletic scholarships.
Academics: An outstanding GPA and high test scores show college coaches that you’re more likely to succeed in a college setting and can possibly earn academic scholarship money. They’re continuously looking for well-rounded athletes who excel academically.
Online profile: To improve your chances of being evaluated by college coaches, you need to build an online profile that showcases your average golf score, tournament experience and swing video. Coaches simply can’t see every recruit in person. Your online profile allows them to evaluate your fundamentals and athleticism. You can build a free profile on our website so coaches can find you.
Tournament exposure: Competing in tournaments is crucial when it comes to men’s golf recruiting. College coaches highly value tournament experience and national rankings over high school experience or achievements. The reason being that college courses are much more difficult than high school courses, which tend to only be 18 holes, and many national tournaments are at least 6,600 yards. So, to conduct full evaluations of potential recruits, coaches overlay their scores with tournament experience. WAGR ranking play a huge role in college golf coaches determining how good you are so be sure to enter as many WAGR events as you can.
Expand your search: The great thing about golf is that every division level is competitive. The top NCAA Division 3 programs can take on Division 1 and Division 2 teams. Think about what you want in your college experience and don’t limit yourself – there’s a lot of opportunity outside of Division 1
How many golf scholarships are there for men’s NCAA D1 Golf?
Maximum scholarships available per team: 4.5
Total # of D1 men’s golf teams: 292
Avg. team size: 10
NCAA Division 1 college coaches can award a maximum of 4.5 scholarships per team. With men’s golf being categorized as an equivalency sport, coaches tend to break up their scholarship money into partial scholarships for multiple athletes on their team. Usually the top five to seven performers are recognized for their talent. Therefore, full rides are relatively rare, leaving athletes to find other ways to supplement their financial package, whether it be need-based aid or academic scholarships.
How to get a NCAA D1 golf scholarship?
NCAA Division 1 is as elite as it gets in college sports. Only two percent of high school men’s golfers go on to play in NCAA Division 1. Student-athletes who want to compete at this level need to start early. Most top Division 1 programs make verbal offers to recruits the summer after sophomore year. And with the average team being 10 college athletes, coaches typically only need to bring on a few recruits each year. Here are the essential steps recruits need to take to play at the highest level:
First, student-athletes should research the Division 1 programs that they’re interested in to make sure they’re a good match both athletically and academically. An easy way to do this is to visit the school’s website and look at the team’s roster to see average scores and tournament experience. Most Division 1 golfers shoot in the low 70s.
Then, they need to improve their national ranking by participating in multiple-day tournaments and national tours. The most prestigious junior and amateur golf competitions are conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and require student-athletes to qualify, Faldo Series, Triple A World Series and WAGR events also offer multiple day competitions across the country and attract top recruits and college programs alike. Though, they can be expensive and require a membership to attend.
Additionally, student-athletes need to create a communication strategy to market themselves. College coaches find it hard to evaluate multiple recruits at tournaments, so creating an online profile that highlights your golf scores, tournament experience, national ranking and swing video can help you get noticed. But it’s just one piece of the puzzle—proactively reaching out to college coaches via email is just as important.
Lastly, recruits need to register for the NCAA Eligibility Center, which determines a student-athlete’s academic eligibility based on core course requirements, grades and test scores. In general, college coaches are drawn to recruits who excel academically. Think about it—when comparing two athletes with similar skills, coaches will pick the one with outstanding grades and test scores.
How many NCAA D2 golf scholarships are there?
Maximum scholarships available per team: 3.6
Total # of D2 men’s golf teams: 218
Avg. team size: 10
Like NCAA Division 1, Division 2 also operates on an equivalency model where coaches receive a pool of scholarship money and can decide how they want to allocate these funds. To make the most of their recruiting efforts, most coaches divide their scholarships into partial scholarships, awarding the top performers on their team. Typically, many Division 2 golf coaches will distribute funds evenly across their student-athletes. However, that does mean that athletes are still left to pay for a bulk of college costs. They do this by using what’s available to them, from need-based aid to work study to academic scholarships. Bottom line: creating a robust financial package doesn’t end at an athletic scholarship.
NCAA D3 golf scholarships
Maximum scholarships available per team: 0
Total # of D3 men’s golf teams: 304
Avg. team size: 11
Technically speaking, NCAA Division 3 coaches can’t offer an athletic scholarship—or at least they can’t label them that way. Instead, these coaches work with the admissions department to find opportunities for academic scholarships, merit-based scholarships, grants and work study. With most Division 3 school being made up of private institutions, they tend to have these funds readily available. In fact, 82 percent of NCAA Division 3 athletes receive financial aid. There’s opportunity here to get a competitive financial package that covers tuition, room and board and more.
NAIA golf scholarships
Maximum scholarships available per team: 5
Total # of NAIA men’s golf teams: 93
Avg. team size: 20
The NAIA operates just like the NCAA when it comes to scholarships: they can award a maximum number of scholarships per team. Coaches have a total of five golf scholarships available and they usually divide them into partial scholarships across recruits and the current roster. From a competitive standpoint, the top NAIA programs are similar to NCAA Division 3, but there are fewer academic requirements at this level. NAIA could be a great opportunity for student-athletes who started their recruiting journey later in high school as the window of opportunity is usually left open longer with these coaches.
NJCAA golf scholarships
Maximum scholarships available per team: 8
Total # of NJCAA men’s golf teams: 212
Avg. team size: 7
There are three divisions within the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for men’s golf. And at this level, student-athletes will find the most scholarship opportunity. Coaches have up to eight scholarships available per team (the average team size is seven players), which can cover tuition, books and more. Junior college can act as a steppingstone for athletes who want to continue to develop athletically or academically before attending a four-year
College golf scholarships requirements
Every potential NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 college-athlete is required to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center and submit their transcripts and SAT/ACT test scores, as well as answer questions pertaining to their amateur status. To secure a roster spot and an athletic scholarship, student-athletes must meet specific academic requirements, such as passing 16 core courses throughout high school, maintaining a minimum GPA in these core courses, and meeting the NCAA Sliding Scale requirements. The rules vary slightly between Division 1 and Division 2.
What are the best colleges for golf scholarships?
We’ve compiled a list of the best men’s golf colleges in all three NCAA divisions and the NAIA. Student-athletes who aim to golf at one of these levels need to research the criteria that coaches are looking for in each division, including average golf scores and tournament experience.
NCAA Division 1: Stanford University, University of North Carolina, UCLA, University of Florida, University of Virginia, University of California, Duke University, University of Michigan, OSU, and Harvard University.
NCAA Division 2: University of California—San Diego, Rollins College, California State University—Chico, Bentley University, Western Washington University, Hillsdale College, Regis University, Bellarmine University and Colorado School of Mines.
NCAA Division 3: Emory University, Washington & Lee University, Amherst College, Carnegie Mellon University, Williams College, Swarthmore College, Pomona-Pitzer College, Tufts University and New York University.
NAIA: Taylor University, Loyola University New Orleans, Huntington University, Robert Morris University—Illinois, Oklahoma City University, The College of Idaho, Asbury University, University of St. Thomas—Texas, and Indiana Wesleyan University.
NJCAA: Indian Hills, Tyler, Odessa, Midlands, Florida Eastern
NCAA D1 - Texas Tec coach interview
Greg Sands is entering his 20th season leading the Texas Tech golf program and has established himself as one of the top coaches in the country. His accomplishments include 18 consecutive NCAA regionals and seven NCAA Championships berths, a top-10 finish in 2010 and the program’s first two PING All-America First Team honorees in 2006 and 2010, plus a Big 12 Player of the Year and Hogan Award semifinalist in 2018. He was named the 2019-20 Golf Coaches Association of America’s Central Region Coach of the Year. Former NCAA D1 golf coach at Colorado State, Elrick has coached at the top level of NCAA Golf. He now heads up ASM Scholarships golf division and has been responsible for over 200 golf scholarship placements to universities such as Stanford, OSU, FSU, UCLA and many more.
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Golf Scholarship FAQ's
How to get a golf Scholarship
There are 1,318 colleges that offer men’s golf and only 972 of those offer golf scholarships. There are just over 2101 women’s golf scholarships are permitted annually for NCAA teams. Coaches distribute golf scholarships across multiple athletes, splitting them in different ways making full rides pretty rare. You will also be competing against walk-ons for a spot on the team to earn a golf scholarship. Click here to learn more
Am I eligible?
Having a high enough GPA or SAT/ACT score is the most overlooked concept by student-athletes looking to obtain a golf scholarship. You could for instance average 68, but if you do not have the right grades, you simply will not be admitted into the university of your choice. If you do not have high enough grades to compete within the NCAA you will be what is called a “nonqualifier” and you will either need to improve your grades or attend an NJCAA college for two years to obtain your associate’s degree. Once you have done this, you can then transfer to an NCAA school with more experience and be ready to complete your bachelor’s degree. ASM Scholarships team has had a lot of experience with this and will guide you on where you need to improve and what you need to do in order to be able to play golf in America
How the golf season works
The golf season in America will usually consist of 4-6 tournaments within the Fall semester, and the teams will typically use this time of the year to prepare their teams for the important tournaments later in the school year. The Spring is when the major tournaments take place and each college team will be looking to qualify for their respective National Championship in May or June. Each team will have to qualify through conference and regional tournaments to make the National Championship. This time of the year becomes exciting, yet very busy with the teams traveling all over America.
What are the chances of getting a golf scholarship?
From NCAA Division 1 to junior college, there are more than 12,000 men’s golfers competing across 1,318 teams. If you take a closer look at the levels that offer golf scholarships, you’ll see this breaks down to more than 8,300 student-athletes competing for 4,545 scholarships. In other words, the opportunity to receive a golf scholarship is there, but it’s cut in half. Student-athletes seeking an athletic scholarship need to stay on top of their recruiting. Most importantly, they should build a strong online profile, reach out to college coaches and attend tournaments, especially multiple-day tournaments, where they can rank nationally.
Do colleges give full scholarships for golf?
It is important to note that getting recruited to play college golf is very difficult. Less than 8% of golfers will play varsity golf at any level in college. Only a fraction of that 8% will get a full or partial scholarship.
Does Stanford university offer golf scholarships?
Stanford University does offer athletic scholarships for Golf. Need-based and academic scholarships are available for student-athletes. Athletic scholarships are available for NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NAIA and NJCAA. On average, 34% of all student-athletes receive athletic scholarships.
Connect to golf universities on our online college recruiting platform.