Archive for Recruiting

My Mom Wants to Share Her Side of the Story

 

Brandi Jackson, I think it’s time for your Mom to speak up.  So, if you will, indulge me for a few minutes.  

 

First, let me say how very proud I am of the professional that Brandi has become.  She pours her heart and soul into her business and everything that she does.  I see this more and more every day.  Quite often as we make plans for family trips, or even simply to meet her for dinner, we know that the plans have to be made around her schedule of meeting with her players, tournaments that she needs to attend, or speaking engagements.  Why heck, we’ve even sat through dinner as she takes the time to talk to a player or a parent on the phone.  She is so passionate and dedicated to her work.  

2016 Green Valley Junior Girls Classic banquet dinner

 

Throughout this venture with Brandi Jackson Golf, and all the articles and blogs that she writes, she has been (to say the least), very protective in the way that she talks about her parents’ involvement in her career.  She has never “thrown us under the bus”, and we appreciate that.  To say that I wish we had had a “Brandi Jackson” when she was growing up would be an understatement.  We thought we knew what was best for her.  I thought it was my responsibility to do all the paperwork (entry forms, applications, preparations, etc), and her Dad, well, he thought he knew her game inside and out, and for the most part he did.  The two of them sometimes didn’t see “eye to eye” on things.  It became evident that she responded so much better to outside coaching and instructions.  I think she knew that her Dad was usually right, but hearing it from someone else seemed to resonate better with her.  Don’t get me wrong, the two of them had, and still have a great relationship.

2003 NCAA East Regional Championship

 

As Brandi began to play competitive junior golf and being so new to this arena that the first time she qualified for the US Junior Girls’ Championship, we considered not going. ???  We didn’t think it was such a big deal.  We would have to take off work, and the expenses of the trip, and would it really benefit her golf game?  Little did we know how big qualifying was.  We weren’t exactly the ideal junior golf parents.  We often had those long discussions (?) on the way home from tournaments, the good ones and the bad ones.  Brandi finally figured out the best thing to do was fall asleep as soon as she got in the car.  Putting a lot of emphasis on parents’ involvement, and what it means at tournaments, and during the recruiting process comes from her personal experiences.  Although, she never calls us out for the things we did or the way we handled things.  All we wanted was the best for her – sometimes we just didn’t know how to see that she got it.  

 

Brandi is not embarrassed to admit that we couldn’t afford to fly her all over the country to play in big tournaments or send her to big name instructors.  We knew that she had the game, deserved the recognition for the player that she was, but, we had to take a different approach and hope that she would be noticed.  Brandi’s emphasis on the junior golfer taking responsibility is so important now.  We thought we were supposed to take care of everything.  We scheduled the tournaments, completed the entry forms, “packed the snacks” …….  Then, when it came time to consider college, we knew where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do, we just didn’t know all the ins and outs of what to do to help get her there.  We thought it was our responsibility as her parents to contact the coaches and do all the talking.  So, when she talks about her experiences, she is very truthful.

 

               

2003 Bryan National Collegiate

When I read her articles and blogs, it gives me such a great feeling of pride to see how far she has come.  During her school days, Brandi would often ask me to proofread papers, etc that she was required to write.  (And, trust me, English has never been my best subject.)

 

Little did I know that she would become the writer that she is.  I still read them all, and critique occasionally, but mostly, I just smile and think to myself “that’s my girl”.  I love reading her articles and blogs because I know that everything she says is (1) from experience, (2) well studied, (3) well planned, (4) the truth, and most importantly (5) it’s from her heart.  

 

 

2004 Vince Gill LPGA

Oh, and another thing – when she posts the pictures of herself growing up, I can’t help but giggle knowing how she use to hate having her picture made.  It was always “Mom……. that’s enough”.  Well, those pictures seem to have come in handy for her.  She even posts some that I don’t remember, and have no idea how she has them.  It’s funny how some things just happen.

 

People often talk about wanting a “do-over”.  I think that if she could have a “do-over” now knowing what she knows, and with her experience, things would be a lot different.  But, do I want a “do-over”??  Probably not.  We’ve had some great experiences with her throughout her career.  We’ve traveled a lot, was there when she defeated Lorena Ochoa in match play, witnessed her runner-up finish at the Women’s Amateur, shared the US Open experiences with her, and met so many interesting and famous people including Vince Gill when he caddied for her.  

 

We celebrated the wins and shared the disappointments of the bad days.  Yes, I would love to have seen her have a more successful LPGA career and become a famous golfer, but I don’t think it was God’s Will for her. He had other plans that included helping these young ladies with their careers, and being a strong influence on them.  Her passion and dedication are beyond measure.  I wouldn’t want her to change who she is for anything.  She is doing exactly what she is supposed to be doing.  

2016 BJGolf 5 Year Anniversary

 

Her Dad and I are grateful that she has allowed us to be a part of her exciting career.

 

Love you Brandi Jackson!

Post College Golf Reflection by Sarah Bertram

In my last blog, I shared some insight from Howard Bertram, who’s daughter Sarah just graduated from playing 4 years of college golf at Gardner-Webb University. I asked Sarah to share her own thoughts about her college golf experience and how she feels looking back now.

 

 

What did you learn the most from playing college golf?

Through golf, I learned to look beyond just the game itself. From my experience, I remember the van rides, silly trick shot sessions, and spending time with my teammates in countless hotel rooms more than actually playing golf. Though golf is important (it got me to where I am today), the lifelong friendships and memories I have made along the way are what I value the most. Looking back, the things that seem little at the time are actually the big things.  

 

How was your school, coach, and team a good fit for you? 

First and foremost, Gardner-Webb is a Christian school which is one quality that particularly influenced my choice. The small size gave Gardner-Webb a larger sense of community; I formed so many valuable friendships and relationships with both students and professors that I may not have been able to at a larger school. My coach was very laid back, but also expected the most from us. Though I was looking to be pushed as an athlete, I found that making my own schedule was a better fit for me. I enjoyed having that independence and it taught me how to prioritize.

 

Where there some things that weren’t a good fit?

I can’t say there was anything that was consistently a bad fit. My coach was a great role model, I got along with my team very well, and I enjoyed my classes and professors. However, there were times when inconveniences arose such as occasional team drama, bad internet connection (my entire sophomore year), and scheduling conflicts. But these were only minor bumps in the road that turned into learning experiences. If there were any “bad fits”, I would not have chosen Gardner-Webb.  

 

What would you do differently as a junior golfer (more specific to golf game) if you could go back?

I would have created a stricter schedule for myself. My favorite thing to say as a young junior golfer was “I’ve got time”. I soon learned that statement is completely untrue; before I knew it I was out of time and behind the curve. Though I was dedicated and practiced more than many of my other athlete friends, I believe there was more that could be done. One more workout, one more range session, one more putting drill. Every minute spent practicing makes a difference (whether you realize it or not), and I wish I had realized that sooner.

 

What would you have done differently with college recruiting if you could go back?

Even though I chose the right school for me, during college recruiting I may have benefitted from visiting more schools and golf programs, even if the coaches were not directly recruiting me. I would have also enjoyed hearing more perspectives from current college athletes, or girls who had just graduated. At the time, however, I was unaware of a way or outlet to get in contact with these girls.

 

How do you feel college golf prepares you for the next phase of your life? 

Golf as a whole has taught me a host of values such as perseverance, respect, integrity, confidence, and humor. But college golf, in particular, helped me grow my communication skills, which is vital now that I am out of college and searching for a career. During recruiting, I had to communicate extensively with coaches, which taught me how to be formal and respectful. As a college athlete, I communicated with other athletes from different cultures, coaches from other schools, and I had to represent Gardner-Webb both on and off campus. Because of this, I am more comfortable speaking with people I don’t know and putting myself into unfamiliar situations.

 

Any advice for an incoming college freshman?

It is so important to allow yourself time to adapt. The transition from living at home to living on campus is a tough one, so take each day as it comes. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things. Be social, make friends with your teammates, and find a balance between work and play time. Having a planner and making a daily schedule helped me stay on task, but also realize how much time I had to have fun as well. College is an awesome time, and just like everyone else has probably told you, it flies by. Take advantage of every moment.

 

Any advice for current junior golfers?

Be confident in yourself! I understand that this is easier said than done, but as a young girl, confidence in every sense of the word is so important. Believing in yourself and your talent and having the will to push yourself, even during the tough times, will only make you stronger in the long run. Be proud of your accomplishments (even the little ones), but allow the failures to be learning experiences.  

 

 

 

A College Parent’s Perspective

I met Sarah Bertram and her father, Howard, during her junior year of high school. She had done a little work with the college recruiting process but had not gotten very far at that stage and she was one of those late arrivers to the game so we had a few things working against us. We did her evaluation, put her resume together and got going ASAP. After months of searching, emailing and visiting colleges she found her home at Gardner-Webb University, a DI school in Boiling Spring, NC with 2700 students.

I was able to follow her college golf career, mostly through social media and her dad, which we all know social media can be a tad misleading at times when it comes to someone being happy or not. Thankfully, Sarah had an amazing 4 years of playing college golf!

I asked her dad to share his thoughts, post-college, on Sarah’s experience and what advice he would give another parent going through the junior golf process.

 

What was the best part about watching Sarah play college golf?

  • As a parent, watching your child excel and do something they love, is a thrill.  For me, watching Sarah play golf at a collegiate level gave me a sense of pride I have never felt.  I have been an athlete all my life, and athletes know the dedication and perseverance that is required to survive, much less THRIVE in sport!  But, to watch her practice, study, and play the game with both failure & success and get up and do it again, showed me that she has a true love and passion for the game.

What was the biggest struggle as a parent during her college golf career?

  • Raising kids in times such as these is a struggle.  Having golf as a foundation to build upon, as a young adult, is huge.  As a parent, I would say missing a tournament would be a struggle.  For me, missing a single stroke was a struggle.  But, the most difficult struggle for me throughout Sarah’s college career was learning to let her do this on her own.  In junior golf, you practice with them, travel with them, and talk about shots between rounds.  As Sarah advanced to college golf, I had to learn to let her move on.  Watching her struggle, but finally getting out of the way (unless asked), was the best thing for her mental development.  She learned very quickly how to adapt and work through changes.  I watched many parents continue to hover and suppress their child’s development, even at the college level!

What made Gardner-Webb such a good fit for Sarah?

  • GWU was the perfect fit for Sarah.  Because she was such a latecomer to the game, she was underdeveloped at her junior year of HS, and really didn’t have a great deal of D1 options.  Yet, there were several who saw the potential in her game.  But, GWU was willing to take the full plunge with our family, and offer her the very best opportunity to follow her dream of playing D1, and receive a great education.  This alone does not make a school a great fit.  In fact, I would tell parents that making the selection based on financial offers alone would be a mistake.  We know our daughter and her personality.  With that, we suggested Sarah choose her visits strategically, and then we would help her weigh the positive & negative of each school and golf program.  Coach Burton lives the kind of family life much like Sarah is used to, and he expects a certain kind of character in his players that will represent both GWU & the golf program with integrity.  Without question, his attitude, and humble approach to life influenced her decision to accept an offer there.

How was Sarah’s relationship with Coach Burton important to her experience? With her teammates?

  • Somewhat stated above, Sarah’s relationship with Coach Burton was important to her development in many ways.  He was a coach, and father figure who was tough when he needed to be, and extremely supportive at the same time.  He made her time at GWU quite enjoyable.  Her relationship with teammates is arguably as important.  Like siblings, there were disagreements, laughs, and tears.  But, also like siblings, in the end, they were supportive and there for one another.  As an athlete, experiencing disappointment and triumph with teammates creates a lifelong bond.  As she says “we have one another’s back!”

Is there anything you would have done differently in junior golf and the recruiting process, given what you know now?

  • Given what I know now, I would reach out to more parents who had gone through the recruiting process.  Whether in golf or another sport, sharing this experience with parents coming along now is what I want to do.   In addition, having some common questions you can repeat to each coach visit might be effective.  I am a strong believer in relationships, and to find someone who you can trust and respect, and who will respect you in return is vital.

Any advice for parents and juniors going through that process now?

  • I have lots to say about the advice!  BUT…. If nothing is taken away from my comments other than this, I suppose that’s ok, and that is this:  My closing piece of advice is to be realistic about your child’s level and potential.  Make a choice by which there are high expectations, but one that offers an enjoyable college golf career.  Because in the end, it should be a choice that lives far beyond the short 4 years she is there!

 

Don’t Be a Sheep

I rolled my eyes during workouts this when this was said to a few of us as we followed one athlete’s lead who put the bands around her knees as we began to do a wall sit. “Don’t be a sheep” was repeated (louder each time) by our trainer before we realized that he was trying to tell us we were all doing it wrong. It was supposed to go around our wrists, which he had yet to say, but several of us mindlessly just followed each other’s lead and put it around our knees.  While there is one slight positive lesson that can be learned about taking initiative and not always waiting to be told to do something as the first athlete did with putting it around her knees, there is a much bigger, more important takeaway from this story, Don’t Be a Sheep.

As I mentioned, I definitely rolled my eyes when this was said during the workout but it has stuck in my head since I left the gym on how this relates to junior golfers.

For starters, what does it mean to be a “sheep”? Basically, when this reference is used, you are saying that someone is following the crowd or the majority without really thinking for themselves. You just do what someone else is doing and don’t stop to think if it’s the right thing to do or if it’s what is best for you. To be honest, the majority of all middle school and high school kids are basically like sheep every day. They follow trends, they follow their friends, they follow the popular crowd, etc… never really stopping to think if they should be following or not.

When it comes to being an athlete, unless it’s your coach, your parents, your mentor, or your teacher telling you what you should be doing, you most definitely need to learn to be the exception to following what everyone else does. As an athlete you are expected to be different, not to necessarily be better than anybody else, but to know better and do better when it comes to making decisions and who you should be following.

It is very easy to follow what others are doing and to want to be part of the popular crowd, but, it is the ones who learn to pave their own path and think for themselves that see the most success in their sport and in life.

For girls who play golf, this is a very important topic because many times you are going to be the only one in your school or at your golf course who plays competitive junior golf. It can make life tough to always have to go your own direction and create your own path instead of following what everyone else is doing. But keep in mind, that doing something different, doing something you know is creating a strong, independent, mature young female athlete means so much more than simply being part of the “in” crowd.

And to be honest, in most cases when you do that, you will actually become part of that crowd naturally. But that is when the tendency to become a “sheep” will start to creep in and it will be easy to lose sight of your own path. So just always remember that paving your own way and thinking for yourself is never a bad choice. Only follow those who you trust have your best interest in mind and share the same goals that you have for yourself.

As an athlete, you have to think differently than non-athletes, your choices can have consequences that go beyond just a simple punishment or setback. Don’t be afraid to take some initiative, don’t always wait to be told what to do, but NEVER follow others without thinking about what that choice will lead to.

 

I Survived the Beast Mode Games

 

Some of you who follow my BJGolf social media may have seen me posting over the last few weeks that I was training for the Beast Mode Games, a Crossfit style workout competition. Well, last Saturday was the day of the games so I wanted to share some pictures and a little bit of what I learned from this journey that I think could help a young golfer (or any athlete) as they are preparing and competing. 

For starters, I had 2 awesome training friends, Kristina who was my partner for the Games and Alex who competed as well with her partner Wendy. They both pushed me over the last few weeks of training and throughout the day of the Games, along with the rest of the Knight Performance Factory (my training facility and a partner of BJGolf) coaches, competitors and supporters. It is such a great feeling knowing that you have others who support and encourage you to be better.

 

I know a lot of young junior golfers, especially the girls, have to play and practice by themselves every day, and golf is definitely an individual sport for the most part, but if there is ever that opportunity to practice and compete with other golfers I highly recommend taking that chance when you can. Just as with our training, I enjoyed the days that I was training on my own and I was able to focus on some things I needed to work on, but I also got so much out of the time that we trained as partners and competitors to push, challenge and encourage each other.

 

 
As I talk about in many of my articles, I have no problem admitting my struggles with work ethic, accountability, and discipline throughout my golf career. I worked at it, don’t get me wrong, but nowhere near what I could have in order to be one of the best! But training for the Games was my chance to put the skills and maturity that I’ve developed over time into my goal of getting ready to compete.

 

Unless I was traveling, I showed up for every session that was scheduled and followed the workout as closely as I could. When I was on the road I found a way to get the workout done if I could get to a gym or I took some equipment with me to do on my own. I went to bed early, focused on good nutrition and remembered the importance of rest and recovery. For those guys and girls competing in junior golf, it is so important to find a balance with school, homework, golf, workouts, family time and social activities. Determine what your goals are and set a schedule based on your priorities. Don’t let what others think or say change what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Stay focused on what is important to you.

 

Through our training, I also learned so much about the importance of coach-ability, structure in programming, tracking progress, developing a plan and putting yourself in “real time” scenarios. Thankfully, I had two awesome coaches, Ryan Mckie and PJ Gray at KPF who created our daily workouts specific to preparing for the Games workouts. We could track our progress, see areas of improvement, focus on weaker areas, and had scenarios created for us that were very “Games-like” to see how we performed under competition environment.  As a junior golfer, there is so much that can be learned from this with the importance of creating a plan for your weekly practice sessions, tracking your progress, setting time aside to focus on your weaker areas and practicing under “tournament-like” settings. 

 

As the day of the games got closer I prepared myself with plenty of rest and good nutrition. My partner and I had planned our strategy for each workout ahead of time, knowing that we may have to adjust based on some uncontrollable factors. Once we arrived at the gym the morning of the games we did our best to make any necessary adjustments once we knew conditions were different than we had anticipated (ex. the rowers were set up in a bad position to switch out, weights were different for the lifts, judging was inconsistent and we had a surprise 4th workout given to us). We came prepared with lots of water and food to keep us hydrated and fueled throughout the day. We stretched, foam rolled, warmed up and got our bodies ready to compete. I don’t even have to explain how these all relate to a junior golfer’s pre-tournament preparation and day of competition. Through practice rounds, change in weather conditions, the importance of water/nutrition, a good warm up routine and plenty of rest, these are all simple factors that play such a determining factor in the outcome of a junior golf tournament. 

 

Kristina and I finished 11th out of 34 teams, not quite the top 10 we wanted, but we were both really proud of ourselves for what we were able to accomplish in such a short time and us both being new to competing outside of our normal sport. I know for me, I was given a quick reminder of what it’s like to be a good teammate and possess the determination to never give up, especially when someone else is counting on you. There are definitely moments during the workouts that you want to just drop to the floor and quit but with the right preparation and mentality, you learn how to continue grinding and give it all you’ve got. 

 

 
I owe so much to BJGolf partners Ryan Mckie, PJ Gray and Stephanie Devita at Knight Performance Factory for their coaching over the last few weeks (and many months before we started the Games preparation). Having a coach(es) who you trust, respect, and share similar goals and values is the foundation for any athlete’s success. 

 

So for those junior golfers out there working towards your goals, I hope you always remember the importance of work ethic, discipline, determination, and coach-ability. Thank those who have helped get you where you are and support others who are in the same boat and race as you are. Stay focused on what is going to help you get better. Develop a plan. Focus on the process. Prepare for the unexpected. Give it all you’ve got. 

 

 
And most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process! We definitely had our share of laughs and goofy times amidst the hard times and “why are we doing this” moments!

 

Are Scholarships Negotiable?

 

I was asked this question last week about whether or not scholarships are negotiable so I thought it was a good topic to address to those who may be curious about this question. I have faced it numerous times working with families as they make their final decision and it can certainly be a sensitive subject on both sides of the equation. Many instances of dishonesty have occurred, but if handled correctly, it can be a beneficial experience for both the family and the coach.
 
 

The ultimate answer to the question is that “yes” athletic scholarships can be negotiable if a full ride is not offered, however, as with many parts of the recruiting process, it does depend on the situation (my favorite two words, “it depends”). There are some cases where the amount of money being offered is truly the maximum amount that a coach has available for a student-athlete. All of their scholarships may be tied up in current players and committed recruits. If this is the case, then you can ask what the possibility is that your scholarship could increase after your freshman year and if that would be based on performance or guaranteed.
 
 
Keep in mind that not all programs are fully funded with the allowed scholarships. For DI women’s golf programs they are allowed a max of 6, for DII programs a max of 5.4, for NAIA a max of 5, for JuCo a max of 8 and DIII is academic money only. These are the maximum “allowed” scholarships but not all institutions fully fund all of their athletic programs. A DI coach may only be working with 1 or 2 scholarships among all players on the team. And in other cases, a program may be fully funded but the coach only gives out 6 full rides instead of dividing them up among 6+ players. There are many different ways that scholarships are offered and divided up. During your visit, you can ask these general questions to get an idea of how the coach handles their scholarships, just don’t get too far ahead of yourself and assume you are going to be a scholarship player.
 
 
One of the main reasons I encourage players to contact a lot of coaches, take a lot of visits and keep their options open is that it helps to provide some leverage when they are given offers. I highly discourage any player from wasting a coach’s time if they genuinely aren’t interested in the program, but when you do have several offers at schools you like then it gives you more leverage to possibly negotiate a better scholarship offer to your top choice.
 
 
If you do have multiple offers and you want to negotiate a better offer at your top choice just remember to do this honestly. Coaches talk to each other!! Let me repeat, coaches talk to each other!! I have heard numerous stories of a family claiming an untrue offer amount at one school in order to get a better offer at another, not realizing those two coaches were in communication with each other. So just be honest when approaching this situation.
 
 
If you don’t have any other offers then your negotiating powers are a tad limited but you can still ask the coach what else may be available, even suggesting options for academic or need-based aid. If the money factor really is an issue and you aren’t just trying to get a better offer then be genuine and hopefully the coach will do what they can to make it work.
 
 
If a coach feels that you are simply trying to negotiate a better “deal” for the sake of the appearance of the offer then you may lead them to rescind their offer. Most coaches understand the financial situation of a family and the excitement of earning scholarship money, but at the end of the day, they want you to make it about the right fit and not about where you are getting the best scholarship deal.

How to Say You Aren’t Interested

I’ve had this question asked several times by players over the years and again this past week it was brought up by one of my girls, “how do I tell a coach that I am not interested?”.  This may be a question you face at different stages of communication with a coach so I wanted to address a couple of scenarios and give you some insight into how I have my players address this topic.

If you receive an initial email from a coach at a school that you know you would not attend no matter what, it is still common courtesy to send a reply back. Even if your resume is much stronger than the girls who play for that program, NEVER think you are better than the players, the school, or the coach. We have all been at different stages in our games, we all have different goals of playing (and coaching) college golf and many coaches work tirelessly to try and recruit better players so the least you can do is show them the respect of at least replying.

The one thing I tell my girls is to stop and think about how they feel when a coach never responds back to their emails or phone calls. They are left wondering if the coach just isn’t interested, did they get the email, did they forget, did I do something wrong, are they done with their recruiting and so on. Although I do reassure them that coaches are busy and can’t always get back to everyone, but when a coach does take the time to respond that at least gives the girls a little better feeling. It may be a simple “thank you but we aren’t interested” or “thank you but we are done with your recruiting class”, which can be hard for a player to hear at times but at least they get an answer and can move on.

The same applies to the players when a coach emails them. You may think “yeah right, I am never going there to play” but it is still very important to at least respond back and give a polite version of “thank you but I am not interested at this time”. There are several different ways that I have my girls approach this reply based on their reasons for not being interested but at least take the time to send a kind and respectful response back so that the coach can move on as well.

With all of that being said, DO NOT narrow down and disregard interest from a coach unless you know for sure that you have other options that are going to be legit opportunities. Yes, there may be some schools that you wouldn’t attend whether you played golf or not, which I understand factors with academics, size, location and intended major can determine that from the beginning which is completely acceptable. But if you don’t have any reason to not consider the school, except maybe some opinions of others or superficial reasons, then I recommend you at least take the time to learn more and have a conversation with the coach. Then you can make your decision and let the coach know your interest level of continuing to communicate.

I never like to encourage my players to waste a coach’s time if they are not legitimately interested in the school and golf program. Yes, there is a lot they can learn from communicating with coaches but I know how valuable a coach’s time can be as well. Once a player decides to move on to their other opportunities or offers, I ask that they let that coach know ASAP. Depending on the level of communication up to that point determines whether or not I feel it should be a phone call to tell the coach or just an email. Either way, you need to be as honest as possible in telling the coach why you are no longer pursuing that school and program. They may be disappointed, which I know many times is the reason for a player to be hesitant to address this, but the coach will have much more respect for you if you let them know through phone or email and not just leave them hanging.

When a College Coach is Watching

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Many of you have experienced a college coach observing your round, if you haven’t yet, hopefully, you will in the near future. For many players, it is the first time they really get those nervous jitters on the golf course. It can be tough to concentrate and focus on your game. You feel the need to play well or else you may lose your chance to impress that coach. You have a few bad holes and see that the coach is leaving so you start to think they didn’t like what they saw. They stand behind you, sometimes, taking video of your swing.

Many thoughts and emotions can go through your head that can affect your game. Did they like me? I hope they saw that shot! I can’t believe I missed that putt! Of course I would make a birdie after the coach leaves! Why did they only watch one hole? What are they writing down?

Below are a few things to keep in mind when a coach is out watching you play that just might help you land that spot on the team.

  • Coaches actually want to see you struggle so they can evaluate how you handle the bad holes and bad days. They have seen your scores so obviously they are impressed enough by them to come out and watch you play. They understand bad days will happen but they want to see that you can grind it out even on days when things don’t go your way or your swing just isn’t working for you.
  • Never show signs that you are giving up. It’s understandable to get a little upset with yourself if you have a bad hole but let it go, keep your head up, shoulders back and stay positive. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you and allow it to carry over to the next shot. Take a few deep breaths and relax. Don’t force it, just have faith in your abilities to get back on track.
  • Treat other players with respect no matter how bad of a day you are having. Continue to tell other players nice shot. Get the pin on the green. Unless you are on the clock for slow play, never walk off the green to the next tee because you are angry. It’s OK to be a little upset at yourself for bad shots but never take it out on another player.
  • If your parents are offering you food or something to drink, accept it or politely say “no thank you”. If they are offering some encouragement say “thank you”. Be respectful at all times!! Coaches are ALWAYS watching for these little things.
  • Parents are under the radar as well when their son or daughter is having a bad round. Continue to clap for other players in the group. Maintain your composure and stay positive. The only time it’s understandable to be upset is if the player misbehaves or blatantly gives up. Coaches want to see parents who are going to encourage their son or daughter, not make a bad day even worse.

 

Feedback from college coaches on what they look for when recruiting a player, as well as their parents:

“I feel like kids put too much emphasis on simply their scores, and although they are important, it is also great to see how a kid handles themselves through the ups and downs.”Division I Women’s Coach

“Finding a way to grind out decent scores on bad days.” Division I Women’s Coach

“If a parent is over bearing or mean to the child after they play badly it not only affects the player but makes a coach wonder how much they will have to deal with when the player comes to school.”Division I Women’s Coach

“I look for character traits as well as personality. I look at player/parent interaction and ask myself if these are the parents I want on my team”.Division I Women’s Coach

A MUST Watch Video for Junior Golf Parents

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During the week of October 17th, the Golf Channel hosted Junior Golf Week and they conducted an interview with Jon Gordon which really caught my attention so I wanted to share the clip along with a few of my own thoughts in regards to what he is referencing. Here is the LINK to that clip so check it out first.

I am sure each of you got something different from what he talked about but hopefully, it resonated a little with how you see your son or daughter’s junior golf experience. Here are my two favorite quotes that he mentioned which relate to many of the questions I get asked about competitive junior golf, parenting, and the recruiting process.

“You can’t drive anyone else’s bus, you have to encourage and inspire them to drive their own bus”

I know it’s tough to want the best for your junior golfer and you know the impact that playing golf can have on their future but as Jon mentioned, “you can’t drive anyone else’s bus”. Yes, there are going to be times that your son or daughter doesn’t want to be at the golf course or a bad round is going to make them think about quitting, but outside of those occasional moments the enjoyment of the game and the love for competition ultimately has to come from the player. There is definitely a thin line between pushing a little because you have their best interest in mind and you want to instill a good work ethic in them and going too far with forcing them to do something they really don’t enjoy doing.

Playing a sport is certainly a great way to enforce important values and character traits so I am 100% behind that little push it may take to encourage and keep them motivated even when they may want to give up or they may not be working as hard as they should. Just always try to ask yourself if you are doing if for them or with them? Are you driving the bus or are you a passenger? img_3380

“Invest in the root and you will have a great supply of fruit” 

This is another quote that really stood out to me about a topic that I absolutely love to read and learn more about – focusing on the process, not the outcome. So much these days is written and studied about the benefit of being internally motivated and not necessarily goal driven, at least in the sense of being outcome goal driven.

I consult and advise a lot of players who come to me because their goal is to play college golf, many times with a specific goal of Division I golf or a school that is their top choice or a particular level of academics. While that long term goal is important to consider, when I talk to the player and spend time with them I am trying to figure out why that is their goal, what are they willing to do to achieve it and most importantly, how excited are they about the process that it takes to achieve that goal. Being excited about the goal itself means very little to me, what I want to see is their excitement to play tournament golf, to practice harder, to get better, to work out, to eat right, to compete, to learn new skills, etc… These are the “roots” that Jon refers to in his interview and when you focus on the roots the “great supply of fruit” comes at the chance to play college golf.

 

Brandi Jackson7Brandi Jackson is a College Recruiting Consultant based in Greenville, SC, USA where she advises junior golf families through the college recruiting process. Her website is www.brandijacksongolf.com

What You Can Learn from September 1st

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Now that the excitement of September 1st has worn off a bit I want to take the time to address a few things that you can learn from the communication you received (or didn’t receive) on September 1st and how it can be a lesson for your own communication with the coaches.

 

Mass email vs Personalized Email: Many of my players forwarded emails they received from coaches with excitement, unfortunately, those same emails were sent out to several others players that I consult. Keep this in mind when reading the emails, if there is nothing personal in the email (just your name does not count as personalized) then it may mean you are not a high priority on that coaches list. It does not necessarily mean that the coach isn’t interested and they may simply be trying to find out who replies back but do know that many coaches will personalize emails to the recruits they are legitimately interested in recruiting.

This same concept applies when you email a coach. I ALWAYS emphasize the importance of making an email personal to the coach and not just addressing it to them. When you do this, you show that you have done your research and are legitimately interested in their school and program. So as you read those emails from coaches think about how it makes you feel when a coach actually knows about you and your game, as opposed to just sending you a general info email. You can make a coach feel the same way when you make an email personal to them as well.

Email vs Phone Call:

I know my players get tired of hearing me say this but Sept 1 was a great reminder of the impact that phone calls can make in the recruiting process. As I was able to watch the different types of communication that took place among numerous coaches and recruits I was able to see the different reactions based on what communication was used. While many times even coaches prefer to use texts and emails for their communication, a phone call (even just a voicemail) will always be more impressive. We all have busy schedules and can usually read an email or send a text easier than having to take a phone call but within my own business I can 100% say that the players who initiate phone calls to me to discuss their rounds or recruiting, even if we can’t connect at that time, stand out to me more than the ones who always only text and email. Did you have any coaches try to call you that day? If so, did it make you feel different than the ones who just emailed or sent a text? Remember that next time you get ready to communicate with a coach.

No, It’s NOT Over: 

Unfortunately, there is the “darker” side to Sept 1 where players don’t hear from any coaches or the coach they really wanted to hear from didn’t reach out. One thing to keep in mind, not all coaches make it a point to contact players on Sept 1. With recruiting happening early and earlier and players being proactive on their end, the appeal of Sept 1 isn’t what it was 10 years ago. Some coaches do make a big point to reach out to players, even right at 12:01am on Sept 1. Some may only contact a couple of their top recruits that day while others may send out 100 or more emails through their database.

No matter what happened or didn’t happen on Sept 1 there is still lots of time left in the college recruiting process. Yes, many players commit and coaches finish the process sooner than later but I have had players find great schools and scholarship money all the way through the middle and even end of their senior year. Two of my better 2016 recruits ended up going to mid ranked DI schools on good scholarship money and as of Sept 1 of their junior year they didn’t even know those coaches or schools really even existed. So make sure you take a deep breath, refocus your direction if necessary and keep working hard to find the school that fits you.

 

The biggest takeaways from Sept 1:

  • Think about the way a coach’s communication makes you feel and keep that in mind when you communicate with them
  • Phone calls are the more personalized and direct way to show a coach your level of interest and maturity
  • Sept 1 is not the end all to recruiting and many things can and will occur after that date if you stay persistent and proactive both with your game and recruiting