Junior girls pay attention: Your ticket to college could be golf
The fact men far outnumber women playing golf is good news for female golfers looking for financial help for college or just to get on the team.
Thousands of scholarships are available each year for female golfers through the National Collegiate Athletic Association (ncaa.org). Since there are fewer girls playing the game, college recruiters have a smaller field to pull from, thus giving girls more of a chance. This is especially welcome with the cost for attending a public four-year university averaging around $7,000 and private universities $26,000.
According to collegescholarships.org, the NCAA scholarships for junior girl golfers are awarded to 235 Division I and 128 Division II schools with Division I schools allowed six scholarships per year and Division II, 5.4.
Unlike other Division I sports such as football and basketball, junior golfers cannot expect a full ride with all expenses paid. However, talented golfers can apply for partial scholarships (25-50 percent) and full scholarships, though rare, are more likely awarded to girls.
While Division III schools like top ranked Methodist University do not offer golf scholarships directly, they do award academic scholarships to those who excel in sports including golf. Other golf organizations like the LPGA and Women’s Western Golf Association also offer golf scholarships to promising young junior girls.
Dawn Mercer, director of instruction at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club in Florida near Tampa, pointed out the criteria to get on the college golf teams varies according to whether you’re talking Division I, II or III.
“If a girl can break 85 from the forward tees and 100 from the middle tees, there is a place for her if she wants to compete for one of the more than 100 schools in the Division III category,” says Mercer noting girls scoring in the 80s to 110 range at 5,800 yards have a good shot while boys need scores of 72 to 76 from 7,000 to 7,200 yards to get on the teams of the same schools.
Golfstat.com, a major source for college golf statistics, names the top girls in each division: Division 1, Candace Schepperie playing for Auburn has a 71.12 average score; Joanna Coe playing for Rollins tops the Division II list with 74.06; and Jessica Urban playing for Wisconsin has a score of 77.31 for Division III.
“Most Division I schools recruit two years in advance, Division II about one year ahead and Division III schools work in the summer leading up to senior year,” said Mercer.
Schools with killer golf programs for women according to College Scholarships.org include Duke (NCAA D1); UCLA (NCAA D1); Rollins College (NCAA D2); Florida Southern (NCAA D2); University of the Redlands (NCAA D3); Oklahoma City (NAIA) and Daytona Beach Community College (NJCAA).
To lay the foundation to succeed in golf, it is important to get good instruction at an early age. Innisbrook is one place which strongly promotes junior golf development.
At Innisbrook, juniors 18 and under play free when accompanied by an adult Sundays after 2pm. There is a Junior Golf Camp, Junior Golf League and special clinics for juniors. This past December, Innisbrook ran three junior golf tournaments bringing young players to Florida from around the world.
The resort also has the 9-hole Fox Squirrel Course, a par 32 850 yard course designed for families to have fun. It’s free too (members and resort guests).
For a list of schools and golf coaches check, click here.
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With so many opportunities for juniors to get free or inexpensive instruction, as well as free or inexpensive playing privileges, you have to wonder why more American girls aren't getting serious about golf. I realize kids have tons of choices for how to spend their time, so maybe it's just a matter of time until programs like the LPGA Girls Golf Clubs help to increase the pool here in the United States.
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