Every year competitive high school golfers need to make choices. Do I go play varsity golf at a small school that will accept me on the team or do I attend my dream school where I cannot make the varsity golf squad? Unless you are one of the top collegiate players in the country, the chances of making the PGA Tour and playing golf professionally are slim to none.Why not have your cake and eat it too? There are over 226,000 golfers who play competitive golf in high school and just over 11,000 of those students end up playing varsity golf in college (berecruited.com). For those 215,000 competitive players there are opportunities to compete regionally and nationally in a highly competitive atmosphere while still keeping your grades up. Club Golf has traditionally been ignored by colleges given it is difficult to set-up tournaments and cannot be played on campus.
The National Collegiate Club Golf Association is the leading organization focused on non-varsity collegiate golf in the country. In the past 6 months, NCCGA has grown from providing a competitive landscape for 50 colleges to now running events for over 160 participating teams in the fall 2013 season. Why is club golf growing so fast?
1) Affordability – Every college can afford to support a club golf team whereas every college cannot fund a men’s or women’s varsity program on their campus. Many clubs are funded by the students themselves given they want to play competitive golf in college.
2) Co-ed – If a college has a men’s varsity team, but no women’s team, a women’s club golf team can be created and the team can compete in tandem with the men. Wake Forest and Fort Lewis have female club teams competing in the NCCGA.
3) Flexibility – Students who play club golf enjoy the competition, practice, and team aspect like a varsity team, but avoid the commitments of 6am daily workouts and missing 3 classes to attend a golf tournament. Having a flexible schedule is important for a student, especially if you have a big test coming up, group project to finish or you are graded on class participation.
4) Weekend events – Students are excited to travel to two tournaments each semester and compete against all of the other colleges locally and nationally. NCCGA students enjoy weekend road trips traveling to different parts of the region for events.
5) No conference restrictions – Club golf rivalries exist like in other sports and students can compete against their rival schools without being in the same conference. There are no switching of leagues for money like NCAA colleges switching conferences for football contracts.
6) Fun events – NCCGA tournaments are highly competitive, but there is a mix of skill levels making the tournament atmosphere fun for golfers of all abilities. At the end of each semester, the top teams regionally as well as a wildcard team are invited to play in the NCCGA National Championship. This fall the teams will travel to Myrtle Beach to Barefoot Resort for a fun, memorable golf experience.
If you are a high school golfer looking at colleges, but are not sure about attending your dream school, you can have your cake and eat it too. Focus on academics, get a great job and still keep your game up to impress your boss in the business world.
Stay tuned for a follow-up article about a former NCCGA player Matt Weinberger who took the road less traveled by deciding to play club golf in college. Although Matt was a talented high school player and could have played varsity golf in college, he ended up playing club golf at Dayton, focused on academics, and now has an engineering job at the Procter and Gamble Company.