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College Golf

An insider's guide to helping your kid play college golf

Golf Digest Happy Hour: Tuesday, March 12 at 8:30 p.m. EST with Dr. Katie Brophy Miles
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March 14, 2024

Is your son or daughter hooked on the game and aspiring to play golf in college? Great! An exciting journey awaits, but the road to securing a spot on a college golf team can be overwhelming.

Is my kid good enough to play D-I? D-III? When should they start reaching out to coaches? What tournaments do they need to play in? What scholarships are available?

To help you and your kid navigate the complicated junior and college golf landscape, we held a Golf Digest Happy Hour with Dr. Katie Brophy Miles, the former Georgetown women’s golf coach and founder of Golf Globally, a consulting company dedicated to helping juniors play college golf.

As a former Big East Conference Coach of the Year, Dr. Miles has a deep understanding of what college coaches are looking for in the recruiting process and how junior golfers can best leverage their skills to play at the next level.

Dr. Miles spoke for an hour to Golf Digest+ members and covered a wide array of topics surrounding the recruiting process, including common recruiting myths, what scores you need to shoot to play at different levels, what tournaments you should play in, how you can find a school that is the right fit and tips for being a supportive junior golf parent.

You can find the full recording of the Happy Hour below, as well as our key takeaways and a complete transcript.

Key Takeaways

  • There are so many opportunities to play college golf if you are open to playing at different levels, including NCAA D-I, D-II and D-III, as well as NAIA and NJCAA. Combined, there are over 1,000 college golf programs on the men’s side and over 800 on the women’s side.
  • A common myth among junior golfers is that college coaches will find and reach out to them. That is true at the top level of Division I, but the vast majority of the time, it is the player who is responsible for initiating contact with coaches.
  • When you’re comparing your scoring averages as a junior golfer to players on various college teams, keep in mind that coaches are trying to replace their best players each year, not their fifth, sixth, or seventh players.
  • College courses are often set up much more difficult than junior golf courses, and college tournaments are often played in poor weather, so consider adding two or three strokes to your junior golf average to see what the equivalent college average would be.
  • A great college-golf experience is all about finding the right fit—athletically, academically and personally. Playing at the best-possible program you can is not always the smartest option, if it is not the best fit. Find a school where you get along with the coach, where you will play and contribute and where you can study the topics that you are interested in.

Transcript

Drew Powell:

Alright, let's get started. Hey everyone, thank you for joining this Golf Digest Happy Hour tonight on the college golf recruiting process. My name is Drew Powell. I'm an associate editor at Golf Digest. If you're able to join our chat a couple of weeks ago with Scott Fawcett, welcome back and if you're new to our happy hours, these are sort of our regularly scheduled webinars offered exclusively for Golf Digest Plus where we give you inside access to really smart people, really smart minds in the game from coaches to pros, in our case tonight, a college golf expert.

So I'm thrilled to be joined by Dr. Katie Brophy Miles. Katie was the head women's golf coach at Georgetown University from 2011 to 2017 where she was twice named the Big East Conference coach of the year. In 2017, she started her own consulting company, Golf Globally, which aims to simplify the recruiting process for families and kids looking to play college golf.

As a former college golfer myself, I played at Brown before transferring and playing at Duke. I was definitely a bit overwhelmed by the entire recruiting process when I was in high school. There's a lot to keep track of. So I think tonight's talk will be really valuable to any parents out there of junior golfers or any junior golfers themselves.

So I encourage you to ask any questions you have throughout the talk tonight. Just throw 'em in the Q and A tab and we'll try to answer as many as possible. Also, don't worry if we're covering a lot of material and you need to memorize or anything, we'll be recording the whole happy hour and it'll be available to all Golf Digest plus members to watch back later. So we're going to cover a lot of topics over the next hour. But first I just wanted to give you a little more background on Katie.

She's not only a former college golf coach, but she's also a former college player. She was a captain of the Notre Dame women's golf team and has participated in a bunch of USGA championships after graduating. She started her coaching career at Indiana. She earned a PhD there in human performance. She wrote her dissertation on how social media has changed the way college coaches recruit players. She's also a LPGA class A professional, so all this is to say that she's a true expert on what it takes to play college golf and more specifically what coaches are looking for throughout the recruiting process. So really happy to be joined tonight by Katie. Thank you so much for being here. How are you?

Dr. Miles:

I'm great. I'm really just flattered by that introduction, so thank you.

Powell:

You got it. You got it. Well, I know you have a really nice presentation lined up for everyone tonight, so you want to get into it?

Dr. Miles:

Yes, let's chat. So thank you again and I'm very excited to be here and see all of you, and it's exciting also to have another former college golfer giving some insights, so I look forward to that. Drew gave you the background so I can skip ahead. I do like to say that I have students from not only the United States but around the world. I know that we probably have some international students here on this call. So I've had students from all of these countries and I am really familiar at this point with how some of the junior golf is being held in these countries and others. So I feel like that's kind of been something that I've learned a lot in my current role. So definitely added onto what I knew as a coach. These are some examples of where I have sent players over the years, so this is really exciting for me to share some information with you, share some data with you later in the presentation.

So I now have players on a lot of these teams or committed to some of these teams, so if you see some of your favorite schools on there, then that's great. I also like to start this conversation by saying that I was a junior golfer just like you. I had dream schools that I never heard back from. I at the time, communication with coaches was different. A lot of the communication now takes place through email, text message, phone conversations, and at the time we wrote letters and I also experienced coaches not ever responding to me. So I understand that sometimes that can be frustrating, and I like to say that you'll find your place and it'll all work out.

So I understand if you're in the trenches and you're frustrated, maybe then I can say that I've been there before. So I did end up playing in college, so like I said, it will all work out the way that it's supposed to. I am also a hopeful junior golf parent. I have two daughters. My oldest one is three, a little over three, and I really hope she likes golf, but who knows both of them. I hope they really like golf, but I would love to travel the world like you all are doing.

I like to start by talking about a few myths in recruiting. We'll also talk about the difference between NCAA division one, two and three NAIA and JCAA, what some of the scoring averages are and what to expect at those levels, how to find the right fit, and sort of some closing junior golf parent tips because I know we have a lot of parents on this call.

I first want to start with some myths, so I feel like some of you might even know some of these myths. So the first one is that coaches will find me, all I need to do is play good golf. That is true for maybe the top 50 players in the world. If you're not reaching out proactively to coaches, they might even assume even if you're that good, they might just assume that you're going somewhere else or that you're interested in other places.

So you need to be your own advocate and you need to be proactive about this process. So make sure that that is a big takeaway from tonight. I'll probably get a full ride. Every program is fully funded. That is not true. Not every program is fully funded, so if you are expecting to get a large scholarship, especially if you're on the boys side, then we will talk more about that in a few slides. Division one, golf is the only path through me that is also not true.

There are many of options. We'll talk about that too. And in fact, if you're looking for the right fit, D one might not be the best path for you. So we'll talk more about that. There are hundreds of women's golf scholarships that go unused every year. How many times have we all heard that myth? It is not true anymore.

Yes, maybe in some far away tiny school that is cold and has a terrible winter. Yes, there might be a scholarship or two that goes unused one year, but there are not a whole bunch of scholarships at Stanford or UCLA or insert awesome school where players still could have a shot. So I like to dispel that rumor as often as I can. I also did more of these myths on my social media, so on my Instagram, and you can find that at golf globally.

I did this a little while ago, so you'll have to scroll down, but I actually had a bunch of coaches send me their funniest stories, and so I actually did 18 myths because there are 18 holes of golf, but some of them are actually kind of funny and maybe you have found yourself doing some of these things or thinking some of these things, and that's okay too because I've also thought some of these things.

All right, so let's talk about the differences between the division one, two and three and NCAA and then NAIA and JCAA. So the NCAA stands for the National Collegiate Athletics Association. You're probably all pretty familiar with the NCAA, especially as we're nearing March Madness. They're the governing body for college sport in the us. Anything that's NCAA related, so division one, two or three, they're based out of Indianapolis, Indiana, and they are going to rule all competition. They would have a committee present at all championships, and if you are intending to play college golf in the NCAA, you have to register with the eligibility center.

So sometimes people, including myself when I was a teenager, might think, I don't need to do that. My mom will do it for me or something. That's not true. You should create an account if you are a division one or two hopeful, you have to pay for an account, and if you are intending to play division three, you would just create a free profile so you can start putting your information on there, and then as other things become available for you to complete, you will have a portal that you can log into and they will send you reminders what you need to do in order to stay on top of this.

One thing with this now with the NCAA rules is in order for you to take an official visit to campus and have a coach pay for your visit, you would need to be registered with the eligibility center because they would need to confirm with their athletics department and their initial eligibility officer within their athletics department that you are going to be eligible and that you are not going to be a waste of time visiting campus if you're not going to be eligible to compete. The NAIA is the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics based out of Kansas City. There are over 250 schools in the NAIA, so we'll talk about some of those schools here in a little bit. But one thing to note is they're offering over the course of all of their sports over the course of a year, $800 million in scholarships to student athletes.

So it is a good option for certain students. The NJCAA is a two-year college opportunity. That's the National Junior College Athletics Association. So this is for two year colleges, and this is for students that are maybe just trying to go to a community college or a junior college, or you might have students that would intend to start there but then end up at a four year school. So usually you are going to be getting your first two years of school there, and then you would finish your junior senior year at another four year college. So this is a great opportunity for, I've had this be a great opportunity for international students who might still be figuring out English as a second language, or they might not have the core course requirements or the GPA requirements at some of the division one or two schools that they're intending to play for. So definitely a path for some people.

Here are the total number of options that we have both in men's and women's golf at the college level. So really important for you to know that college golf stats are taken care of by the website clipped. That's where all of this information is from, and it is very, very current information. I just redid all of this. So if you are kind of wondering, wow, I would love to play college golf, how many options are out there? I'm really thinking I want division one. Wow, there are so many other places that I could end up. So I always say that there is a place for you in college golf if you want to work for it. And so hopefully you are encouraged that there are so many different options.

Powell:

Katie, when I was looking through back on that graph when I was looking through that graph, it's staggering to me. You do the math. I mean, each of these teams has what, six to 12 players. So I mean, you multiply across the board and you've got eight to 10,000 spots on the men's side and maybe six or 8,000 on the women's sides. I mean, there's really so many opportunities out there. It's not necessarily I need to play at a top D one school or even any D one school. There's something out there for you is sort of the point.

Dr. Miles:

Yes, thank you. Yes, thank you for noticing that. And yes, that is true. I'd say the challenge with that is a lot of people only know or only are aspiring for the same 25 schools, and that's what makes recruiting hard. But if you're open to golf at a number of levels, then you'll have a lot of options. So if scholarship money is a motivating factor for you, then here's the breakdown across the board. So NCAA division one on the men's side, you have 4.5 scholarships and women have six. Something I like to say here, and this is where I like to kind of level set sometimes with clients or prospective clients when somebody says scholarship is my top priority. And I say, okay, well that's important to know then are you open to playing golf at a number of different levels? And they're, well, no, I want to play division one golf.

So in a few slides we'll talk about the breakdown and some more scoring average information for all of the divisions. But if a men's program has about nine to 10 players on average or more and you're hoping to play on their team, realistically getting more than 50% of a scholarship is probably not going to happen. And so that's where if you are kind of talking to your family and trying to figure out what are going to be the top factors for you in choosing where you do go to school, then you need to be thoughtful about the number of options and what would be realistic to expect in terms of a scholarship.

Powell:

Hey, Katie, Michael's got a good question here. I want to jump in. How come there are no scholarship opportunities at the D three level compared to all the different other levels of college golf or just college athletics in general?

Dr. Miles:

Yes, so we'll actually learn shortly here. Division three offers 80% of their student athletes a scholarship of some sort. So a few years ago that average number was $17,000. So division three is really as an ethos, is about the student first. And so they're not going to be awarding merit based aid based on your athletics achievements. However, they are going to be rewarding you for the merit that you have achieved based on your academic pursuits.

And so a large portion of students at that level will be receiving usually a significant amount of aid. And I will say anecdotally with previous clients and current ones that are in division three, they are really generous across the board. The top, top most competitive D threes are going to be hard to earn merit-based aid at those, but it's amazing actually at some division three schools what types of scholarship offers you might receive in terms of that would be a merit scholarship.

Okay, so let's talk about some dates really quickly here. So in terms of NCAA recruiting rules, so for you 2026 students, and I know there probably are a lot on this call June 15th following this year for you, so following your sophomore year is a big deal. I had a dad today on a call say to me, Katie, we're 90, I think it was 95 or 90 days out from June 15th, and I didn't have a countdown on my phone, but something like that. And so that day is coming up and that is when division one and two coaches can communicate directly with you. So that would mean a coach could initiate a call or a coach could send you a text message or send you a message on Instagram, something like that.

So that communication could start on June 15th. What I have found now, having gone through six recruiting classes with students on this side of things, if you are a really highly ranked player and you'd be a sort of highly sought after recruit, June 15th is a busy day for you and you need to prepare for that.

If you are not though, let's just say you're ranked out of the top a hundred in the class, maybe top 200 in the class, if you're ranked above that, which is probably a majority of people on this call, then June 15th probably isn't as busy of a day as maybe other people might lead you to believe it will be. Because coaches a lot of the time are trying to secure their top recruits on that day or at least let them know that they're interested on that day.

And so your recruitment would happen later, but it's definitely a good day to be aware of if you are a 2026 or younger, the recruiting rules don't apply to D three, so you can actually communicate with coaches at any time. And another important date that you should be aware of is if you are trying to meet a coach on campus or meet a team, you wouldn't be able to do that until August 1st prior to your junior year. So that would be that same summer following your sophomore year.

So NLI signing is also an exciting day. So that's a day where students are going to be signing a legally binding document from the school that they are intending to play for where they will be receiving a scholarship. And so the NLI is actually kind of an interesting thing because in the last few years, coaches in golf sort following basketball and football, they can actually now offer multi-year scholarships. So that's not as common.

And what I have only had a few students sign multi-year contracts, which is awesome for them, and some of them are from schools that you would be a little surprised to hear. But that is something that if you are sort of in the recruiting process and maybe you're even a top recruit, that could be an interesting thing to ask is if it would be a one year contract when you're signing an NLI or a multi-year,

Powell:

I think that's maybe a common misconception as well. Maybe it was just me who didn't know, but scholarships can change year over year the amount based on a variety of factors, whether it be just the amount of money they have available or in theory, your play, right? I'm not sure how often that's common, but it can change year to year, right?

Dr. Miles:

Yes, yes. So legally a coach actually can never take your money away. So if you were playing poorly or you got injured or something, they couldn't take your money away for that. They could if you were breaking team rules, if you had done something to make yourself ineligible from the school, and then if you did have a scholarship decrease, you would have an opportunity to go to a hearing and argue that.

So coaches however, can make if let's just say that your performance is maybe not as expected as maybe they would have, you're not meeting the expectations that they had maybe in the recruiting process and maybe you know that you're not. Okay, so let's just say that happens then A coach could make your life a little more difficult and could make sure that you're always at 5:00 AM workouts or something like that. And so that's where sometimes there's a little bit of a gray area in terms of a scholarship decreasing or going away. But I think it's important for people to know the rules and to know their rights is not actually, you can't lose money from not playing well.

So this is sort of generalities across the division one, two and three and NAIA and JCAA, we're looking at division one. It's bigger schools, the largest universities are division one. We also have great disparities though between division one schools if we're talking about Alabama versus Seattle University. I live in Seattle. Large disparity between the schools and the experience that you would have there. So that's something to really be aware of. Division two, you're going to have less scholarship opportunities. Schools are going to be smaller than a lot of D ones, but that's not across the board. You have to look at each school itself and D three are going to be smaller. A lot of them are going to be highly academic. We'll talk about more, we'll look at this next slide will tell us a little bit more. So this is actually from the NCAA website, so there's more information on this.

So this is actually a bigger table on their website. So if we're looking at the median undergraduate enrollment, we're talking about almost 9,000 at a division one school. That's again, that's everybody. That's the median. And then we're talking about for D 2 24, 2,428, and then we're looking at 1740 D three. So in terms of size, those vary widely. I think that one of the more interesting things about this is if you are at a division one school, on average, you're going to be one of, so one in 23 students is an athlete. So essentially if you're in a class, you might be the one athlete, or if it's a bigger class, there might be two or three other athletes. What I think is so cool is in division three, one in six students is an athlete, so the representation is a lot higher at a division three school.

So kind of an interesting sort of thing when you're really getting down to what do I want my experience to feel like? What do I want, what do I want my classes to look like and my friends to feel like, well, if you wanted to be around a lot of other athletes, I'd say division three would probably be a really good choice. And then at the very bottom on the column for D three, it says 80% of athletes received non athletics aid. So there there's more information on the NCAA website. If you were to go to the ncaa.org, and if you're looking at our three divisions, you can find more information from this table.

So I put together a lot of scoring, average scoring averages for D one, two and three as well as the others. So I think this should be really helpful for you if you're kind of wondering where would I fit based on where I'm shooting right now. So this is for the NCAA division one men's programs. I looked at, if you can see on the farthest left column, the clipped ranking, I just kind of went down the line from 1 25, 50, 75, et cetera, and then I went and looked at each player on their roster and what their scoring average is at this point in the season. So I actually did this during covid. I had a lot more time on my hands then.

So all of this information is now on clipped. I did this during covid and none of this existed anywhere. I literally made profiles for every person and if the school itself didn't good, it didn't keep good records and have that publicly available, then I literally created this for every single person I was looking at tournaments, and it took a very, very long time. Clipped actually has this, and I had a college coach this today on my Instagram. It was a public comment. The coach at Wisconsin said, where did you get this information? So actually you can find this too.

Anybody can find this. So if you click on the schools on clipped, you can click on the roster page. It's kind of like the third thing you click on and you can find each player's scoring average. So if you're wondering where you would fit in, then here you can take a look. What I think is really interesting, so again, I did this four years ago. Pepperdine was the top ranked men's team at that time, and they only had two players who were averaging below 70. So it's interesting because they won the national championship the following year. They were a really good team, but college golf just gets better and better, and the numbers verify that. So

Powell:

When a junior golfer is looking at this chart and they're thinking maybe they're calculating their own scoring average in their own tournaments and trying to place where this would be, where should they be looking in terms of should they be trying to look at the schools in which they would be the two or three player, the five or six, where should that fall? What are their takeaways from this chart?

Dr. Miles:

Thank you for that question. That's a great question. Coaches are trying to replace their one and two players every year. Rarely are they looking to recruit a number eight player on the roster. They are looking at who they've got currently on their team, but they also want to make sure that the people that they are bringing in are going to travel and are going to contribute. That's say a really key point. And I think just generally in the recruiting process, if you are a player that's kind of like, I just want to be on the team, I don't really need to travel all the time, I don't need to contribute to the team score, I just kind of want to be there, get the bag, get the shoes. If that is how you feel, that's fine. And I definitely have had clients that feel that way, but what I would say in the recruiting process is you definitely need to be really thoughtful about what a coach would be looking for.

If they're being paid to have players succeed and do well under their leadership, then they need to. And if their family's livelihood depends on his and this coach's job and keeping their job, then you need to make sure that you're going to be somebody that somebody would be contributing positively. I'd say another thing to look at is college golf is played during sometimes not the best weather months. It takes place over the fall and springtime, and a lot of teams do travel to nice places, but if you're looking at your junior golf scoring averages versus college golf, it's really hard. There's really no way to measure it.

Powell:

A lot of college courses are set up different too, right? I mean, yeah, you're playing on these shoulder seasons and bad weather, but I found, at least in my experience, the courses are a lot tougher in college. They're longer, tougher pins, faster greens. I know some of the elite amateur and junior events can be challenging as well, but your average high school tournament or state amateur might not be played on some of these really challenging layouts. Correct?

Dr. Miles:

Correct. If you say, I mean, a lot of coaches would say, add two to three strokes from where you are right now to give you what your scoring average may be, and in college then yeah, that would be a good sort of thing to say would be equal. So let's look at D two. Sorry, division one one.

Powell:

Real quick, Katie, I don't want to belabor the point here, but Peter's got a great question whether D one coaches recruit based on your potential as a player or only results. So are they looking at maybe some more intangibles about your swing or your course management or your fitness, or are they just looking at, have you shot the scores that will contribute to my team?

Dr. Miles:

Oh yeah. I mean, they're looking at a lot of factors they're looking at, and yeah, to say that scoring average is the only thing is definitely not it. They're looking at potential. They're looking at what your junior golf growth has been over time, how you're trending. Were you an amazing freshman, but you're not an amazing junior? Obviously that's not great, but if you were not really a great freshman, but all of a sudden you've had an amazing sophomore junior year, then that would be a trend in the right direction.

So it's tough to actually quantify what it is they're looking for because if you were to pull 10 coaches, they would all probably say different things. But when coaches are observing you and watching you play, they are looking at body language, how you treat your parents, how you handle yourself after you make a bogey, how you treat your playing competitors, how you handle adversity in any way, because those are the things that you'll have a lot of in college. I don't know if I quite answered the question.

Powell:

Totally. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.

Dr. Miles:

Okay, so here I'm on women's division one. If you look here, I thought an interesting thing here was the roster size that a lot of teams had. This is a small sample. I am only looking at sort of every 25th program, but a lot of them did seem to have only seven players. And then again, so Wake actually was ranked number one four years ago, and they had one player in the sixties at that time for her scoring average at the end of that season.

So it's kind of interesting now that we have four. So again, college golf continues to improve. So let's see if you are, let's just say a junior golfer, I feel like there are a lot of people that are like, well, if I shoot 75 in junior golf, can I play division one golf? Yes, you can. Can you play at Wake? No. But can you play at some of these programs 1 75 and higher? Could you contribute? Yeah, probably. So again, these rankings are on clipped and you can find these teams and what they're ranked on that website, and you can see what the players are shooting. So you can do your own research on this too to see where you would fit in.

So I get this a lot too in the recruiting process of like, oh, division one is the best, then D two, then D three, well, it's not really linear like that Division two golf at the top, and I'd say in the top 50 programs is incredibly competitive. There are a lot of D two golfers who absolutely could have played division one golf, but chose D two because they might have preferred the weather in the places that they ended up getting offers, or they maybe wanted to go to a certain school that had a certain type of major, those types of things.

So what you see in D two is there are probably a lot of players, especially in the top schools that could have played division one golf, but chose D two, particularly in some of the Sunshine State Conference. So those are the schools in Florida. Those are incredibly competitive. It's like Berry University, Rollins, those schools, those are really, really solid programs, and a lot of them do have highly international rosters as well. So sometimes that could have been a result of not maybe making the NCAA requirements for D one because the entrance requirements for D one are going to be a little higher than D two.

And then for D two women, you can see that the scoring averages here are, I'd say especially for the top 25 schools are mostly going to be in the seventies. I will also have these on my website. I just finished these before this, so I will have these on my website. If you're looking for the ones from four years ago, they're on there if you're just curious.

Okay, D three, if you're looking at D three, I'd say Methodist is an interesting one. They've got so many players on that team because they also have a PGM program and they are incredibly competitive, so they've got a lot of really solid players and they get to practice there. Some really cool golf courses in North Carolina. So that's a very appealing option. And I'd say if you're a player in say the top 25 to 50 D three schools, there are probably a decent amount of those players that also were looking at division one, but chose D three for the academics.

And then the women on the women's side, we have low to mid seventies, I'd say for the top 25. Interestingly, Hartford actually transferred from division one to division three. Usually it's the other way around, but they were somewhat say, demoted or reclassified at last year. So it's at a, I don't know what that's going to do for their program over time. Okay. So NAIA numbers some very solid teams in NAIA. And I would say for players who are maybe late to the recruiting process, NAIA could be a really good option for you and you would be able to find some bigger schools too. There are some decent sized universities in the NAIA, same with the women on the women's side. We've got, I'd say in the top 20 or so, some pretty competitive programs for NAIA.

And again, if you were looking for a two year place to land, so the NJCAA offers eight scholarships, eight full scholarships for a fully fronted program. So again, if scholarship is a determining factor, then this would be a good path. When I was coaching, actually when I was coaching at Indiana, so this was a few years ago, one of the teams, so it was actually the Women's Daytona State team, they had two players who graduated from that program and then went and played their third and fourth years at USC. So that was, I thought, a pretty awesome place to land from a junior college.

So finding the right fit, if we're looking at division one, two, and three, as I said, they're not linear. Finding the right fit can be made possible. Really social media can help you learn more about these programs. You can learn more about reading on some of these websites. Some of the factors to consider are okay, and these are, I'd say the most important three are what are the academics like you need to find a fit there and then does the golf fit where you are and what you are hoping to achieve?

And then from a personal standpoint, does the school help you achieve your hopes and dreams? Does it set you up for the rest of your life? Those are really important things. And we'll talk about one final thing for factors for how to determine the right fit. So in terms of academics, are you looking for a big school or a small school?

Are you looking for a public school or a private school? Obviously if you're in state, that would be a significant difference in cost. Are you looking to find a place where you can have opportunities to do research or maybe even have a chance to get a foot in the door for graduate school? Do you have a certain major that you are trying to pursue?

I always tell this story. When I was at Georgetown, my top recruit one year, she so confidently came on her visit and I had talked to her so many times. She was one of those players that you just love talking to. I talked to her so much and I don't know how we had somehow not addressed the topic of majors, but she very confidently sat in my office and said, coach, I just can't wait to major in engineering here. And I was just crestfallen at that moment because we didn't have engineering. There was a three two program, which was not really something that somebody that's aspiring to do engineering would choose to do unless they really were passionate about maybe the school at the end of it. But anyway, I was very devastated that she hadn't done a research.

Powell:

I have heard a similar story about engineering where a student was really eager to major in engineering and the coach was a little hesitant about that player, maybe majoring in that just because the labs and all of the requirements for that major are super time consuming. So is that a factor as well that maybe you should talk with the coach whether or not they have preferences on maybe what majors they like their players to stay away from? Because different majors have classes at different times of the day, and so whether if all the engineering labs are in the afternoon, then the kid is going to have a tough time getting to practice. You know what I mean? So is that something to talk with the coach beforehand in the recruiting process to sort of make sure there aren't any misunderstandings there?

Dr. Miles:

Correct. So yes, that is a big one, and you want to make sure that coaches are going to be supportive of what you want to study. There is a world though, if you are a top recruit and then they have another top recruit and the other top recruit wants to major in something that's not as difficult to schedule around or have to have an extra practice for, then they might go with the other person because engineering in particular pre-med are some that are hard to work with.

As a coach, I dealt with that. So you definitely want to go somewhere where a coach is supportive. I had a coach of a D three school, the Carnegie Mellon coach actually, I was getting some pushback from a player who wanted to major in engineering and was looking at the Ivys and the Ivy League coaches were not as supportive about it.

And then the Carnegie Mellon coach said, Katie, I want him to major in engineering, tell him to look at our roster, tell him to look at every single person. Most of them are either computer science or they're engineering. Tell them that I support it, I want him to do it, and that would be why he would come here. So that was the perfect fit for that student. So it's really important that everybody's on the same page there.

In terms of the golf experience, you want to make sure that it is in line with where you intend to go with your career and maybe even your golf career. I definitely had students in my office both when I coached in the Big 10, and then when I coached at Georgetown, or I almost felt like, especially when I was at Georgetown, I had a player who was, she was ranked like 10th in the country.

I couldn't even believe she was in my office. I was just waiting to, I don't know, talk to her about what her deal was. And then her dad said, Hey, listen, she really wants to play on tour. And I was like, yeah, I mean, yeah, she's pretty solid. And he said, do you think that this is going to be the place that could set her up? And we're looking at these top 25 schools, we're here because I got family in DC and et cetera, et cetera, and I was just like, gosh, I just feel so bad saying yes, this is the pathway to the tour because it's probably not the pathway to the tour.

So I think if you are intending for golf to be something you are doing over the long term, then you really need to be thoughtful about what program you choose. Again, if scholarship money is a factor, then you need to be really aware of where that team fits in the rankings. If you're going to be a top player, say a 200 hundredth ranked program, then you probably do have a good chance of earning a big scholarship. So that's something to be thoughtful about are times.

Powell:

John's got a really good question. I want to jump in here with what's more important. This is a general question. Generally speaking, what's more important to coaches, the ability for a player to go low and shoot low scores or playing consistently across the summer or across their tournaments? Or does it vary from coach to coach?

Dr. Miles:

Wow, that's a really good question. I would say it would depend on the coach. A lot of them are going to be really aware of what your consistent numbers are. They're going to want that because they need you to be consistent for them. When you see a player, though, I feel like I've had this happen over the years with students of mine where a player has a 62 on their resume or something crazy.

It sends a message and coaches notice that I had one of the Ivy coaches and a player of mine who he had shot 62 in a tournament. It was a big event. It was like an HAGA or something like second round. And one of the Ivy coaches was like, well, he can't play for me because his grades aren't there. But gosh, I mean, I'd love to just talk to him because if a player who can shoot 62, then wow, I'm happy to talk to him. So I think going low can almost kind of have you stand out a little bit, but your consistent number as well as your differential and junior golf scoreboard, which determines your ranking is really what coaches look for a lot.

Let's see. So personal factors here. Where do you want to end up? What do you want to major in? We talked a little bit about that. Does the weather play into your decision making? I know for a lot of people that it does and it should, if it's an important thing to you, what do you want to do with your life? What type of career are you hoping to go into? One thing I like to say is when I've got an open forum, I only have Drew here, but Drew, I'm going to put you on the spot. What's the top feeder into the Silicon Valley?

Powell:

I don't know. Stanford.

Dr. Miles:

See, everybody says Stanford. It's actually San Jose State because it's such a large school.

Powell:

Interesting.

Dr. Miles:

In terms of numbers, so again, physical markets are important too. If you're trying to end up in a certain place. One thing that is important, I don't think it's the only factor, and if somebody's like the top factor is who's your coach, definitely don't listen to them because you can listen a little bit, but a coach could leave and a coach could get a better job. Or if a coach doesn't perform, then a coach might get fired. So your relationship is really important, and a lot of the time they are going to be sort of your gateway to getting into the school. So it is a vital, important relationship. And Drew, you could speak to that, your coaches are pivotal people. However, you definitely need to go to a school to make sure you need to go to a school that you love and you know that you're going to get a really good education.

Powell:

And totally, I mean, I only had great experience with my coaches, but I would imagine if you are in a program with a coach, maybe you don't jive with as well. Not necessarily because the coach is bad or you’re bad, but just different personality types or whatever. That's going to really hamper your experience and you're kind of fighting that battle when you should be maybe focusing on just enjoying the experience and playing good golf.

Dr. Miles:

Yes.

Powell:

There's a good question here I want to get into because I think it's a popular one that a lot of folks have. Do you have to play in AJGA events or big junior golf tour events or can you stick with more of regional events? Smaller tournaments? Maybe that advice changes based on the level, but curious your insight there.

Dr. Miles:

Yes. So it depends on what, it really kind of depends on where you are in the recruiting process and where you would like to go. So if you are early in the process and you're young, then you should start trying to get into AJGAs and you should actually start trying to get into the younger events. So those are the junior all stars you should try to play in a preview. That's the first event that no one that's had previous AJGA experience can play in. They have two lists. There's one with priority is played in none, and then there's one that's played in one. So if you've played in one preview, you might be able to play in the second one just to give you all the details. But if you're young, you can start that process. If you're a junior and you're sort of later to the recruiting process, you might actually never get into an A JGA and you just need to accept that and be okay with it.

AJGAs are great coaches like them. They're known entities. They know what know they're getting for getting in terms of course setup, what to expect with the field and who's playing in it. And so AJGAs are really good for that. But a lot of coaches know that if you're starting this process and you're not playing in a lot of AGAs and playing in a lot of events that would get you stars for a long time, then it is really hard to break in and coaches understand that. So it kind of, again, depends on the types of schools you're targeting and the types of things that you've done so far.

Powell:

It's also really expensive too. I mean, maybe there's some people who maybe they're just not ready to make that financial commitment to play those events. But then again, if you're playing in local or regional events, there's nothing necessarily stopping you from trying to go win that event by a bunch of shots. Maybe that's how you're going to impress the coach, right? I mean, maybe you can't play these top events, but you can in the events you do play in, take advantage of those by really standing out and having an excellent performance, right? That's still going to maybe catch their eye.

Dr. Miles:

Yes. So when I do a camp every summer with the Ivy League coaches in Ireland, actually, and Drew is familiar with it because he was a camper, so one of the things that they like to say is start local, win there, then move on to regional events, play well there, and then if you're playing well at the regional level, then yeah, then play in national events. But if you are playing well and you're invited to the continuing, if you sort of take continued steps to play in bigger and bigger tournaments, then they will be able to recognize that if you're just playing at your country club and reporting your scores from that, then that's not quite the same and that has happened.

Powell:

Katie, before you get into these parent tips, we'll go for about 10 more minutes here. Just a reminder to everyone, we'll have a full recording of this talk available for all Golf Digest plus members. But Katie, I know you want to get into these points about junior golf parenting tips and then just want to give you a chance to give your final takeaways as you get to them.

Dr. Miles:

Great. Okay. So for the parents on this call, and for you junior golfers out there, parents, the best thing you can do is support them children. The best thing you can do is respect your parents and tell them thank you for giving you this opportunity. So I suggest to the parents is to help guide them down the path, but don't carry them down the path.

One of the things that I'm talking to my 2026s and 2025s about right now is owning more of what they're doing. So taking ownership of, okay, I have a tea time at 10 tomorrow I need to make sure that I'm packing a lunch for myself and I need to pack some snacks and I need to make sure that I'm anticipating some of the things that could happen. I need to bring my rain gear rather than mom and dad.

Just sort of doing everything, helping your kids learn how to take ownership of these types of stages and where you are in life right now. You will need to do all of those things in a few years anyway. So coaches are going to want to get to know you and they will want to get to know you probably very extensively, especially when they're talking about financial commitment and what it's actually going to look like, and hey, I want you to entrust your child to me. They're going to want to have some conversations with you.

The first conversations though, they definitely want to get to know your son or daughter, and if you're sitting there on speakerphone and asking questions, which definitely happens, you need to make sure that you are not taking away from the experience that they could be having with that coach. So in fact, it could be kind of like the last call with a coach if it's interrupting what they're trying to create, the relationship they're trying to create with your son or daughter. So make sure when phone calls are happening that you are out of the room. They're hopefully in their own room and they have some notes and maybe they're prepared for those conversations. Never send emails for your kids either. Coaches are going to know if it's a really well crafted email.

I tell a story of a student of mine whose dad sort of was always had access to his son's email, and then he kind of offhandedly responded to an email and he signed it. He is like, best Larry. And in fact, I actually looked at the junior golf scoreboard rankings. There's not a single junior golfer named Larry, but if you are of a certain age, there are a lot of Larry's. I had an uncle, I have an uncle Larry.

So unfortunately that was sort of just like a quick flippant reply to a coach and it was to that student's number one school, and it was literally the last email that ever happened. So not to put everything on every email, however, it is really important that, like I said, your kids are taking ownership of these relationships.

Powell:

Real quick on that point about emails, is it okay for a kid to have a template, a rough template that they send to coaches where they add specific things about each school? Or should they make every email entirely specific to each school?

Dr. Miles:

Yes, a template is fine and coaches have a response template for students to fill out information and to share information about their schools. It's really important that you're not starting that relationship on the wrong foot and you're not saying, I'm really excited to play for Insert wrong mascot or insert wrong Coach last name. And that's where I suggest that this is where parents actually can be very helpful is when you are working on that template and then working on the different drafts of that email that you're having some loving parent who is spending a lot of time making sure that everything is right, that you guys are doing that as a family, and that you guys are making sure that everything is correct. So yes, templates are great, but make sure that all of the fields are correct.

SAT prep and ACT prep are really worth the investment, particularly if your kid is a sophomore. I actually, I've been learning a lot about this, the digital SAT and ACT and not digital ACT, but the digital SAT and test prep is a hot topic these days. If your son or daughter is qualifying for National Merit, which for a lot of schools you'd qualify for a automatically large scholarship, you should be doing test prep your sophomore year so that when you're taking the PSAT junior year, you actually score a pretty high score. So that's really helpful for just automatic scholarships. So that's something to think about if your kids are young. So let's talk about tournament scheduling really quickly.

Where you can play depends on your resume. It depends on whether or not you're a US player or an international player. So Junior Golf Scoreboard is the ranking system, although there will be others emerging and there are other ranking systems. And so Junior Golf Scoreboard right now is sort of the governing body and how a lot of tournaments are making fields.

So your ranking, if you don't have one for students that have mine that say don't have a ranking, I tell them that that's one of the top things for them to do, especially if coaches are going to be able to see how good of a player they are. So you need to play in four multi-day tournaments, so that's two days or more, and then if it's shortened by weather or if you have some sort of something happen, then it still would count, but do not withdraw from terms because junior golf scoreboard, actually the calculation of your ranking is based on 75% of your best scores. So if you play poorly one day, then that probably doesn't matter for your ranking, but if you play well the next day, then that actually could help. Coaches also hate to see players withdraw if they're not playing well.

Powell:

That's also an opportunity to showcase your resiliency to a coach. I mean, if you have a high score one day and you come back and improve by 10, 15 shots, that's really going to tell them something maybe about what you've got inside that they're looking for. Right?

Dr. Miles:

Totally, totally. I had a player not ranked last spring shoot, 84, 73, and one of his first turns of the spring, he is a Boston kid, and it was like, yeah. Oh, right.

Okay. So as we talked about, June is coming up, camps are a great way to meet coaches. Some other timeline things. Early decision and early action are things that you would need to decide and submit by November of senior year. So those are important things to sort of keep in mind. And you are doing this process earlier than your friends, and that's if you want to play college golf, then you need to be doing this proactively. So you want to do your research and make sure that you're making the right decision.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors in this decision. As I say, always there is a place for everyone we saw. There are so many options. There are hundreds, thousands of options across the board. We're talking about finding the right fit. It can be very rewarding, but it's hard. College golf is hard and you have to decide if you guys do actually want to do this as a family. And then if college golf doesn't pan out, then club golf is also a really good option. And if you want to still be competitive and travel and play and have friends, then you could actually play on a club team and have a really great time. So thank you.

Powell:

Amazing. Katie, thank you so much. You've covered so many great topics we crammed into this hour. We're really appreciative of that. I'm sure everyone hopefully got something out of it. Can you give some folks some more information on where they can find you and what sort of services you offer?

Dr. Miles:

Yes, so you can find me here. Here are some ways to get in touch. I help families with the college recruiting process. A lot of what I do is very personalized and individualized. I am doing a master class though in April, so if people wanted to be a part of that, then that would be a really good way to learn more and feel like you're in charge of the recruiting process and feel empowered to do it on your own. And here's how you can contact me and I'd love to hear from you.

Powell:

Awesome. Thank you so much. This has been really helpful and like I said, we're going to have a full recap with takeaways and the full recording available over the next day or two for all Golf Digest plus members. In terms of the next happy hour, it'll be in two weeks on Tuesday, March 26th, same time at 8:30. And our guest will be Dr. Brett McCabe, who you may know as a top mental coach, a fellow doctor, Katie.

Dr. Miles:

Yes, I know of him. He's great.

Powell:

He's amazing. And he works with a bunch of PGA tour pros, including recent tour winner Nick Dunlap, who was the kid who won as an amateur. Now he's a professional, so he's going to come on and we're going to cover a variety of interesting topics on the mental side of the game. And so we'll be in touch with more info about that, but we're really looking forward to that as well.

Dr. Miles:

Thank you. Thank you for having me. Thank you.


Powell:

Alright, have a great night everyone.