A Guide to College Recruiting for International Athletes
Updated: May 26
Playing golf collegiately has so many pluses - it’s a great opportunity to develop your game, meet friends, compete in a team environment, travel to courses around the nation, experience different course conditions and grass types, and have your education paid for through a scholarship. It’s also a time to embrace your independence by living on your own and experiencing college life.
There are more than 500 women’s college golf programs in the NCAA spread across Division I, II, and III. There are a few differences between each division, including how many scholarships are available per team, as well as college size and academic programs available. Going through the process, especially as an international student, can be quite daunting, but read on for a breakdown of the main areas you want to keep in mind. Be sure to keep in mind that NCAA bylaws are subject to change at any time. Student-athletes and their parents are encouraged to consult ncaa.org, eligibilitycenter.org and usga.org for all recruiting and amateurism rules questions.
An important first step in your journey to play college golf is to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. This site provides you, along with your prospective schools, a central hub that houses your academic transcript, SAT/ACT test scores, and amateur status. There are so many different steps involved when it comes to college recruiting and applying to schools, so it’s important to plan ahead and not leave everything to the last minute; the last thing you want is to miss an important deadline. With this being said, a good rule of thumb is to register for the NCAA Eligibility Center by your junior year.
Another area you’ll want to start researching is related to your visa. There are several different forms available depending on your situation. As you get further along in your process, your prospective college’s admission counselor can provide more guidance on which form(s) you will need.
Academics and Tests
You’ll need to obtain a copy of your academic transcript from high school; you’ll need to have completed at least six semesters before submitting the transcript. Depending on which school(s) you’ll be applying to, you’ll also need to sign up for either the SAT or ACT standardized test. The NCAA Eligibility Center will need a copy of these scores. As an international student, you will also need to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). This exam is for non-native English speakers and tests your English ability in four areas: writing, reading, listening, and speaking.
When it comes to your play - performing well in tournaments will help you in your recruiting journey. If you are able to play in the United States, consider playing in some AJGA tournaments. The AJGA has a strong relationship with college coaches, who frequently attend tournaments to look at prospective players. Amateur championships run by the USGA, as well as individual events like the North & South, Silver Belle and Western Amateur are all great options as well.
If you are not able to play in the United States, look at events where you can earn World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) points; this is a talent evaluation tool that college coaches frequently use. Key tournaments include the British Girls’ Amateur, Spanish Amateur, German Amateur, European Team Championships, and other top international events.
Communications and Visits
You may begin communicating with college coaches by way of phone calls, texts, emails and letters starting the June prior to your junior year of high school. It’s important to develop a solid resume to send to coaches detailing your accomplishments, both on the golf course and in the classroom. When it comes to your golf section, you’ll want to include tournament results and stats like how far you can hit each club. Include anything you think may help you stand out. You can even send videos of your swing as well.
Once you narrow down a few options, you’ll want to be sure to go and visit your top choices. There are several reasons why these visits are so important. For starters, you want to make sure that the school and city where it’s located is somewhere you can live. Have you always grown up in a warm climate and are looking at schools where it snows? That’s a really big transition to make, so you’ll want to evaluate that.
Visiting schools is also important so you can meet your coach and teammates and tour the facilities. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see what a “day in the life” could be like. Plus, you’ll also be able to see how big the school is, where you’ll be studying, and get a chance to meet with professors.
The College Recruiting Checklist for International Athletes
● Learn English as a second language
● Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center
● Research colleges and universities
● Develop a list of what you want from a college and golf program
● Decide which tournaments you want to play in
● Build your golf resume
● Film a swing video
● Email coaches with an introduction, golf resume, upcoming tournament schedule, and swing video
● Visit colleges