There are more than 1,200 college golf programs for men, another 900 or so for women, and upwards of 200,000 high school golfers in the country. So how do the coaches and golfers cut through the clutter and find one another?
Not easily, no doubt. But a new web service, Junior Golf Hub, is making it easier. We won’t go so far as to call it the eHarmony of college golf. Nonetheless, it is a matchmaking service.
“We’ve created a site that we like to think works a little like LinkedIn for the college golf market,” Greg Flynn, president of Junior Golf Hub, said. “Kids create profiles for themselves that end up being their digital resume.”
The junior golfers can download video of their swings, post their scores and add any other pertinent data, including their high school coaches or PGA professionals from whom they take lessons and their contact information. They can create a link to their profiles that they can email to coaches at colleges in which they’re interested.
“I think it’ll be a great tool for coaches and prospective student athletes to find a school that’s a right fit,” Chris Nallen, assistant men’s coach at the University of Arizona, said. Nallen already has been using Junior Golf Hub some, though it was only officially launched in March.
The junior golfers can follow programs on the site, and the coaches at those programs receive a notification that they’ve got a follower and can choose to follow the golfers back.
“The way we set it up,” Flynn said, “is to give everyone visibility and to give coaches visibility to the landscape of talent out there.”
It would seem that coaches at NCAA Division I universities would already have a handle on the landscape of talent. Maybe some do, but as Flynn notes, there are the Oklahoma States, Stanfords and Alabamas, successful programs that recruit themselves, but that there are upwards of 250 Division I golf programs.
“Originally, you might say, ‘well, maybe some D-I schools wouldn’t have much interest, they might not see a need for this,’” Flynn said. “But the more you drill into it, the more you talk to coaches, you could be a D-I coach that is getting 500 Microsoft Word resumes a a year [from junior golfers] and they’re all in a different format and they’re not using modern technologies. They’re getting a lot of people who want to play for their programs and they’re managing a lot of the recruiting and the paperwork is a pain.”
Nallen's best guess at the number of golfers annually who contact Arizona via email or mail is "a thousand? Fifteen-hundred? That’s going to be a big portion of it, filtering it out and using our time more efficiently. Hopefully this will be a better predictor of whether a kid is going to continue to develop. That I think will be most useful tool for coaches. It’s tough for coaches, trying to predict the future. The Junior Golf Hub will give you more information and a better basis that this is a kid we want to go after."
For now through the end of August, there is no cost for the golfers to sign up. After that, they will have to pay a subscription fee. Already more than 800 junior golfers and 160 college coaches have signed on, the latter including those from universities with prominent golf programs — UCLA and Arizona among them, Flynn said.
Junior Golf Hub, an official partner of the American Junior Golf Association, was founded by Roger Knick, who is a PGA of America professional and the founder and operator of the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield, Conn.