6 Ways to Get Noticed by a College Golf Coach

Categories: Blog, Coaching, The First Tee Alumni
TD Luten_headshot
T.D. Luten, current assistant coach for the Duke University Men’s Golf Team; executive director at The First Tee of the Triangle from 2005–2012

Playing golf, or any sport, at the college level is competitive. What does it take to get noticed by a college golf coach?

T.D. Luten, the assistant coach for the Duke University Men’s Golf Team and past executive director at The First Tee of the Triangle (2005–2012), shares his thoughts on how junior golfers can get noticed at the college level.

In the four seasons that I’ve been coaching the Duke Men’s Golf Team, I have seen it all from recruits who want us to notice them:

  • hand-written letters
  • CDs
  • YouTube videos
  • phone calls from crying parents
  • surprise visits during team practice
  • calls from alumni who swear their friend’s child is the next ‘can’t miss kid’…

I think you get the picture.

Basically, the majority of emails and phone calls that I receive are from junior golfers who, unfortunately, don’t have the grades or the game to play on our team. That said, I would like to share a few pointer to find out if a collegiate golf coach might be interested in adding you to their roster.

6 ways to get noticed by a college coach:

#1 visit the university, Independent of the golf coach

Take an official tour of the campus offered by the admissions department. Two to three weeks before you get there, ask the golf coach if you can meet for 30 minutes during your visit. This approach shows us that you are seriously considering the university as a whole to make sure it is a good fit for you.

#2 Create a 2-page resume that includes:

  • your namestudying
  • parents’ names
  • address
  • phone numbers
  • name of your home course
  • your instructor’s contact information
  • name of your high school
  • your golf coach’s contact information
  • your cumulative GPA
  • any AP classes that you have taken
  • a list of ALL of your tournament scores over the past year
  • any awards that you have received
  • your list of community oriented activities outside of your church, high school and golf

#3 send a brief, personalized email To the Coach

The email should explain your interest in the college golf program and at that time you can attach your resume. If the coach responds positively, let them know you will be updating them on your grades and upcoming tournament scores. You can even add a list of your upcoming tournaments in case they would like to see you play.

#4 Once you have begun the recruiting process, be aware that you are being watched

It is our job to find out as much about you as possible and we will call tournament directors, rules officials, other parents, etc. to find out as much about your character as possible. A good way to think of a coaches’ perspective is that we want to see how you handle your ‘off’ days more than how you handle your good days. The recruit who has the mindset and maturity to conduct themselves evenly on good days and bad ones will almost always be chosen over the recruit whose confidence rises and falls based on what they shoot.

Duke University golfer with T.D.
Duke University golfer Adam Wood with T.D. Courtesy: Duke Photography

#5 Have a plan and a go-to-shot for those days where you just don’t “have it.”

What I am saying is, work on making your bad golf days better. I am writing this post on a plane from our last event in Texas and, boy…would I have loved to have our guys save a few shots on the day or days that they didn’t have their ‘A’ games! If you are able to rely on a shot shape and control the distance of your shot of your ‘off’ days, you are an asset to that coach’s program and they will notice when they watch you play.

#6 Keep Your Composure

One of my close friends in coaching shared this with me over the summer and I’ll leave you with it:

If you really think about it, golf is a game of adversity. The ball will always find its way to its lowest possible point, meaning, it will roll into the sand trap and probably into a rake-mark, it will find the lone divot in the fairway, it will spin off the false-front of a green, it will come to rest not just in the rough but all the way at the bottom of the rough, it will hit the flagstick on a perfectly struck shot and ricochet to who knows where! How you respond to those events during a round of golf will determine your potential and we are always, ALWAYS in search of recruits who can keep their composure through adversity.

Just remember, we want hard-working, appreciative, disciplined student-athletes. If that’s you, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for your future goals and ability level.

Good luck (and Go Duke)!

Last year, more than 525 alumni of The First Tee went on to play college golf. Our program helps prepare junior golfers for playing at a higher level through the life skills they learn (like how to set goals, manage emotions and more) as well as providing national events like the College Golf Prep Academy. Learn how to get your child involved in The First Tee near you.

6 responses to “6 Ways to Get Noticed by a College Golf Coach

  1. Good day,

    My daughter is 9 years old and currently plays travel softball on a 12U team. I’d like to get her exposed to golf. I need help finding a place to get her started. She’s never played before.

  2. The First Tee is a great fit for your daughter. No prior golf experience is needed to participate in our program. Please visit our locations map at http://www.firsttee.org/locations to find a chapter near you. From there, you can contact the chapter directly to register.

  3. Thank you Mr. Luten. This is a great article for my daughter who is a sophomore in high school playing varsity golf. At the First Tee of OC, she has tremendous support from her coaches and friends and has the opportunities and resources that provide guidance and information (like yourself and this article). She is not sure if she wants to play golf at the college level, but if she decides to, I truly appreciate the First Tee organization and all of the volunteers and sponsors that support organization.

  4. TJ. The First Tee not only teaches these kids about golf but Life Skills, Goal Setting, Core Valiues! The things they do not teach in school. Also about giving back. My son will be a Sr in HS & has been with the program since he was 9. The volunteers are amazing. Trace has been to a leaders academy & headed to Pebble Beach in a month with the First Tee & play with tour champs. Dreams do come true if your kids embrace their values, goal setting & goal setting!

  5. Hi, my name is Elle and I’m a freshman in high school and on the golf team. I am an ambitious competitive golfer and a lover for this sport. My dream school is Duke University and I’m hoping to major in Marine Biology. I am looking for ways Duke or any other colleges would be able to see my talent and understand my desire and love for golf. Please reply back for ways I can get recruited. Thank you for your time.

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