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Official Visits vs Unofficial Visits

Utilize Your Swing and High School Coach

 

Your swing and high school coach can be a great asset through the recruiting process to help you be more proactive, especially before the Sept 1 of Junior year deadline. Ask them for help in contacting a coach for you or writing a reference letter to add to your resume. Many times a high school coach may not have the time or the know how to help you out though so don’t expect them to do this, it really isn’t part of their job. But if you ask you may find out they will do what they can to help. Just keep in mind they may not understand the timelines of the process and where you fit in with schools being realistic options.

Same goes with swing coaches, they tend to be more knowledgeable about the process, especially if they have had former students go on to play college golf but may not have the time to help you. Ask them for help though so you can try to be more proactive. While you as a student athlete need to be doing the work, many times a college coach will take an email or phone call from a swing coach more seriously than they will your email or phone call. You are one of hundreds of players trying to capture a college coach’s attention, your swing coach can help you get your foot in the door. They can be a great resource and asset throughout the process, don’t try to attack it all on your own. If your swing or high school coach doesn’t have the time or resources to help, then that is where someone like myself can be of assistance to help fill those gaps in the process.

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Robert Linville speaking with players about college recruiting.

September 1st of Junior Year

Happy Sept 1!!!

September 1st of Junior year is a very important date in the recruiting process, although, it’s not as big of a deal as it was in the past because many players are getting ahead of the process and initiating contact with the coaches prior to that date. If you are being proactive, hopefully have already made contact with a coach before that date or had your swing or high school coach help you make contact.

But it is still the day where the DI coaches are allowed to initiate electronic communication (for DII coaches the date is June 15 before Junior year) so it’s a big deal for many players. As of August, 2014 the rule changed that now allows a coach to not only email but also to call or text directly with a student athlete, any electronic communication is allowed. Before that date a student athlete is allowed to send emails, make phone calls or take visits, but coaches can not initiate any communication directly to a student athlete. They can only send camp info and questionnaires before the Sept 1 deadline or contact your swing or high school coach (or someone like myself). Make sure you have sent them your resume and filled out any questionnaires that were sent to you or that are available online. Don’t just wait for the Sept 1 date, do the work ahead of time in order to stay proactive.

 

Build Your Resume Tips

Building a quality resume is one of the most important steps in the college recruiting process. While your game will speak for itself out on the course, your resume will be the first insight a coach has into you as an all around person. Having an online resume that contains all of the necessary information is the preferred method by most coaches. This makes the information accessible and easy to navigate. A document form is completely acceptable as well.

You don’t want a coach to have to go out of their way to find the information they need to know about you. Their time is very limited and valuable. You want to capitalize on the one chance you may have that a coach reads your email. If you have to resend a swing video, test scores or tournament results they may overlook that second email and never see it. If a coach has to open 5 different attachments to one email they may not take the time to look at all of them.

Also you don’t want to send a coach on a wild goose chase to find all of your tournament results on 5 different junior tour websites. Building a quality resume online that houses all of the information that a coach needs is crucial in beginning the college recruiting process.

  • Headshot
  • Personal Statement
  • Academics
  • Awards
  • Activities
  • Volunteer work
  • Tournament results
  • Stats
  • Swing video
  • Parent and player contact info
  • Reference contact info and letter
  • Upcoming schedule (if available at the time)

What I Would Tell My 17 Year Old Self

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1998 US Junior Girls at Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA

This blog is a bit of a special one because I am celebrating my 34th birthday today. While 34 isn’t really a big milestone birthday it did make me stop and think back to what I was doing halfway through my life when I was 17 years old. Many of the girls I work with are in that 13-18 year range and I catch myself saying to them over and over, “if I only knew then what I know now”. I know many of the girls get tired of hearing that, as I did at that age, but it will never stop me from trying to impart a little wisdom on the young girls as they navigate their way through high school and into college. That span of years is the most influential time of a girl’s life so I thought I would think back to what I would tell myself when I was that age.

First let me fill you on what was going on during that summer when I turned 17. I turned 17 the summer going into my senior year of high school, I was one of the summer babies who was considered young for my grad year. I knew the summer was going to be a big one in regards to where I may play college golf. I had always dreamed of playing for the women’s golf powerhouse at Furman University. They were a top 25 ranked program and recruited some of the top junior golfers in the country. I believe I was ranked 3rd in the state of SC at the time but I didn’t have the top national level of experience that many girls I was competing against had so I knew my odds were slim at the time. My family didn’t have the ability to send me all of over the country for AJGA and national tournaments so I did what I could to prove myself in the state tournaments and the few national tournaments I was able to qualify for, twice playing in the US Junior Girls (where I did manage to knock Lorena Ochoa out of the first round of match play that summer). And I qualified for the Big I and Optimist but had to choose one, so my mom and I headed out the Houston, TX for the Big I. At the end of the summer, I had my first hole in one at the Beth Daniel Jr Azalea in front of Mic Potter, the Furman coach, and went on to win the tournament. My recruiting story continues from there but I’ll pick it back up in another blog. I just wanted to set the scene for my life during the summer that I turned 17.

There is so much that I look back on and wish I would have known at the time. And as I watch the girls who are that age it makes me realize how important it is for them to learn and understand from someone who has years of experience doing so many of the things they aspire to do. While I could probably create a list of 100 or more, I am narrowing it down to just my top 5 things I would tell my 17 year old self.

YOU ARE AWESOME – Just those words say it all but I will elaborate on a few reasons why. You commit yourself to hours and hours of practice both in the extreme heat and cold. Many times you are spending those hours at the course, all by yourself, while your friends are hanging out by the pool. You carry (or push nowadays) a 30lb+ golf bag around for 5+ miles every time you play 18 holes. You grind out every single putt, even if it’s for a double bogey. You can calculate wind direction, green speed, lie of the ball, elevation, slopes, carry distances, yardages then pick a club and target, all in less than about 30-45 seconds. You travel on weekends and spend most of your summer playing golf tournaments when most kids are relaxing at home. You meet and play golf for 4.5 hours with new girls almost every time you tee it up. You play a sport that most adult men will never figure out how to play no matter how hard they try…. and you can beat most of them too! So let’s face it, YOU ARE AWESOME!

IT’S COOL TO BE A GOLFER – When you are younger, golf isn’t always considered a “cool” sport. Even through college a lot of guys gave us on the golf team a hard time about being golfers. They thought it was easy to carry your bag and hit a golf ball that was just sitting on a tee. It wasn’t really considered an “athletic sport”. Fast forward to these guys now being in the corporate world and they quickly realized how hard the game of golf is and they all came back wanting lessons. So just remember that you are very unique in the fact that you have the ability to play golf, it may not be as high energy, team oriented and exciting to watch as other sports but it is one of the most highly skilled, very technical and mentally tough sports anybody will ever play.

GOLF IS WHAT YOU DO – This may not be as applicable to all girls who play junior golf but the more competitive you become the more this will apply. It is very difficult not to put your self worth and identity into how good of a golfer you are and to not let the bad days affect your self-esteem. I know for me, giving up my professional golf career was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. From the time I was 7 or 8, my dream was to play on the LPGA Tour and so much of my life centered around my golf game. I was “the golfer” in my family and in my hometown. So over time it really did become who I was instead of what I did. It was very hard to separate the two. But at the end of the day you have to remember that who you are is not affected by how good or bad of a golfer you are. Yes you are a “golfer” but golf is what you do, it does not define who you are.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK – All great athletes are hard on themselves and tend to always expect more no matter how good they play. But remember to cut yourself a break, relax and enjoy the process. You can’t beat yourself up every time you play bad or else you will you forget to love the game and you won’t enjoy competing anymore. It is certainly easy to look back now and say this but good round or bad round, there will be tomorrow and another chance to play better. I can remember times on tour that I would play bad and not want to do any sightseeing or the fun activities the tournament had planned. I just wanted to be grumpy and mad at myself for bogey the last 2 holes or missing the putt on the last hole.Take the time to learn from your mistakes that day, set a plan to improve, then move on and enjoy the rest of your day.

BE GRATEFUL – After working with junior golfers for about 6 years now this would be one of my biggest pieces of advice. This a topic that can open a whole book of advice for junior golfers and how they view things so I will just keep it simple. I hope that as a 17 year old, I was gracious and appreciated the opportunities that I was given to play golf, but I would still tell my 17 year old self that you can never be too grateful. Always take the time to say thank you to anybody that is involved with helping your golf career (instructors, coaches, tournament staff, volunteers and of course your family). You can’t imagine the time and dedication many of these people commit to allow you the chance to play golf. Be willing to give back anyway that you can if you are asked. Always remember that the opportunity can quickly be taken away and that there are a lot of kids in this world that will never have the chance to play the game of golf.

I’m sure I will come back to this topic again before long with more thoughts but I’m going to take my own advice and cut myself a break to enjoy my birthday with family and friends!

Support Your Daughter Without Pushing Too Hard

The article is from an upcoming series in “Recruit PKB: Recruiting Process”  the covers a parent’s role in the different aspects of the college recruiting process. The first topic addressed is one that I get asked very often from parents who are concerned with pushing their daughter too hard, but who also know their daughter needs some guidance and structure in order to stay on track towards her goal of playing college golf. I am not a parent myself but I do understand that there is a very thin line between pushing too hard and just trying to keep a young girl motivated to succeed. Below are 5 recommendations that I believe can help a parent understand how to best support their daughter and work together as a team throughout the recruiting process.

  1. žContinue to ask your daughter what she wants out of her golf: First and foremost, it must always be about what she wants from playing golf and not what the parent wants. Given that the girls are still young, there is obviously a gray area of knowing what is best for them by keeping them involved in a sport that can teach them a lot of important values as well as open up so many doors and opportunities. But ultimately there has to be the desire and enjoyment of the game from the girls or else they will end up giving it up all together. Just make sure you are on the same page for what it is that they want out of their golf game and always keep it fun.
  2. Remind her of her decision to play golf in college: If your daughter has made the decision that she wants to play golf in college then I feel that is a green light that they are willing to be pushed a little harder than a girl who just wants to play golf for fun. Being a college athlete, at any level, requires a lot of commitment, sacrifice and hard work so reminding them of what they have agreed to will help you both stay on the same page. My dad told me as a junior golfer that as long as I was practicing and working hard on my game I didn’t have to get a job and he would pay for me to play in tournaments, but he would never push me to play or practice if I didn’t want to. There was one period of time in high school that I got a little sidetracked and wasn’t quite meeting those expectations, so my dad simply reminded me of my dream to play in college and out on tour so I was quickly back on track. Just make sure you help your daughter stay aware of what it takes as a junior golfer to go on and play at the college level while also putting the desire and determination in their hands. Playing college golf may not be the path your daughter wants to take with her golf, if not, then just encourage her to enjoy the game and stick with it because it can be a great tool for whatever career path she decides to take.
  3. žHelp her set goals: A great way to help support your daughter without pushing too hard is to sit down and lay out some goals together. By setting goals, I am referring to process goals (smaller defined tasks or achievements that will help a girl achieve her future dream/vision). Assuming your daughter has made the decision to play college golf, then lay out weekly/monthly goals both for their golf game as well as for college recruiting. For instance, she can commit to so many hours of practice per week (with emphasis on quality practice as well) and playing so many rounds of golf. Or in regards to recruiting, she can commit to sending a certain number of intro emails out to coaches or making phone calls. If you allow your daughter to set the goals herself, then you as a parent can simply serve as the accountability partner for making sure she reaches them.
  4. žTeach her independence and time management: These are the two areas that college coaches say parents can help support their junior golfer with in order to better prepare them for college golf. Simple things like having your daughter do her own laundry, sign up for tournaments, pack herself for a tournament or schedule her own lessons will begin to teach her how to be independent. Also encourage her to set a schedule at the beginning of each week (include her process goals) to insure she accomplishes everything shes needs and wants to get done.
  5. žLet her do the work for college recruiting: Try your best to do as minimal work for your daughter as possible in regards to college recruiting. I know young athletes can get overwhelmed at times with school work, practice, workouts and social life and it’s tempting to want to step in and take over with things like sending out intro emails, replying to coaches or researching schools, but let her do the work if at all possible. Let her take ownership of the process and figure out a way to make time for it. Be there to help her stay organized and on track but don’t do the actual work for your daughter. This will help her mature and build confidence throughout the recruiting process, both improving her as a golfer and an individual.

College Coach Quotes:

“As much as possible, let the juniors make decisions on how much they want to play and where. A junior golfer that is pushed too much can easily be counterproductive. It will be more fun for them if they are enjoying it…and they will likely stick with the game longer.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

“We want players who have a voice. Those who have more maturity and less reliance on parents will have an easier time adjusting to college.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

“Parents need to realize that not every kid is going to be a superstar, in fact, most often, their child will excel when they play a supportive role behind the scenes.” – Division 1 Women’s Assistant Coach

 

If you have any questions about junior girl’s golf or the college recruiting process please contact me at brandi@brandijacksongolf.com.

Always Be Honest with the Coaches

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With the early signing period taking place last week, I wanted to address some comments that I have received from coaches over the past couple of weeks. If there is one thing I can’t emphasize enough it is that coaches talk to each other. Many of the coaches have known each other since we all started playing junior golf over 20 years ago and have been friends for years. I spent most of last Saturday at the PKBGT Invitational catching up with some coaches who I played against in college and professional golf. So trust me when I say that we can all talk…a lot! The college golf world can be a very small world and while the coaches are competing against each other both on the course and with recruiting, they are still going to talk among themselves. It can certainly be a cut-throat process, but for the most part the coaches have respect for one another and will be honest about the details of a particular players recruiting process. There are some exceptions on the coaches end as well, where some dishonesty takes place, so always make sure you ask the right questions.

You don’t have to tell a coach every detail about the offers you have from other schools but NEVER lie about it. It is very easy for two coaches to be out recruiting the same player and they end up discussing the details of what each family has told them and what offer they have given that player. It is a huge turnoff if one coach finds out that they were lied to about the offer presented by another coach. While recruiting has become very competitive and in many ways it is a business deal, always make sure you maintain your integrity and be honest with everyone who is involved.

There is certainly an element of negotiation that can take place before a final decision is made. A coach’s initial offer may not be the maximum they are willing to give a player but do your best to not wheel and deal too much among coaches or else you may lose out. While the financial aspect of an offer is extremely important to many families, always remember that you are looking for the best fit for the junior golfer and not necessarily the best “deal” or the most golf specific scholarship money. Coaches are much more willing to negotiate with a family who is honest with them and has the right intentions for the junior golfer.

Time Management: Prepare Now

Prepare now for college life. You will have to manage classes, workouts, practice, meetings, laundry, social activities, studying and traveling. And you won’t have parents there to help keep you on track. You will be responsible for yourself. You won’t have someone to wake you up in the mornings, remind you to do your homework, clean up after you or cook meals for you. Coaches say it is the one attribute that incoming freshman struggle with the most. Start now by setting a schedule at the start of the week. Write down all of your planned activities for the week, then schedule practice time, workouts and studying around your scheduled events. Prioritize activities and always get the important things done first. Stick to your schedule and you’ll be able to get everything accomplished each week. Here is a great quiz to help you address your time management skills, http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_88.htm.

What else beyond their golf game can they do to better prepare for college golf?

“Time management is the biggest problem for Freshman. If you can start making a weekly schedule now it will help you when you get to college.”- Division 1 Women’s Coach

“Improved time management skills to help manage the year around golf schedule in college.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

Beautiful Day for Golf!

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