Transitioning to life as a foreign student in America is difficult, but it is even more challenging for student athletes who have to balance academics with sport. If you’ve been awarded a college golf scholarship in the USA or are interested in playing college golf, here are some tips to help the transition go smoothly.
1. Get a Professional Golf Assessment
If you are serious about improving your golf game, then you will need to have a professional golf assessment. This is the only way you are going to get an unbiased review of your strengths and weaknesses so you know what you need to work on. If you haven’t been offered a golf scholarship yet, the assessment will also let you know of your real chances of winning a scholarship based on skills and academics. You can learn more about golf assessments in the UK here.
2. Get Familiar with the NCAA Website
The NCAA website has a lot of great resources for college-bound athletes and current student athletes. For starters, we suggest downloading the Guide for the College Bound Athlete, which you can do here.
3. Record and Analyze Your Stats
In order to improve your golf game, you’ve got to identify your weaknesses. The more information you have about your golf game, the better you will be able to do this. Start keeping statistics of all your scoring averages, fairway accuracy, sand saves… Once you have this information, you will have an in-depth overview of your game and know what you need to work on. There are a lot of apps which can help you track and analyze your stats, such as shotbyshot.com, and getrealgolfstats.com.
4. Learn to Cook
Ever heard of the “freshman 15” – the 15lbs that college freshman usually gain during their first year? A major reason for this weight gain is that college students end up eating a lot of junk food instead of the home-cooked meals they are used to. Nutrition is incredibly important to staying on top of your game as a student athlete, so you should learn how to cook some simple, healthy meals. Bear in mind that college dorms usually only have mediocre kitchens, so figure out some meals which can be made on a hot plate or in a microwave. Also see what meal program your college offers so you can plan your nutrition accordingly.
5. Start a Fitness Program to Improve Swing
Much of golf comes down to the swing. But, unfortunately, the weakest part of our body – the core — is what ultimately controls the swing. To improve your golf for college, you need to start a fitness program to improve swing. At Golf Digest, there is a good article about exercises for improving swing.
6. Improve Your Time Management Skills
The life of a student athlete is incredibly demanding. You not only have to handle a complete course load, but you must attend early-morning practice sessions, tours, and more. Plus, you will be away from home for probably the first time in your life and have to learn to do things like laundry and cooking for yourself.
When recruiting golfers to their teams, coaches are particularly interested in finding juniors who will be able to handle this challenge. To make sure you are ready for the demands of student athlete life, work on your time management skills. For starters, here is one good article about time management.
7. Play Golf in the Summer
Now that you’ve gotten a golf scholarship and know where you will be going to college, you might be tempted to take it easy. But hanging out with your friends all summer isn’t going to prepare you for college golf. You need to find summer events and compete in them. This will give you an opportunity to play on new courses, compete on a higher level, and meet other golfers.
If you haven’t gotten accepted to college golf program yet, then these summer events are particularly important. College coaches consider these events important on your golf resume and a sign of maturity.
8. Choose Your Classes Wisely
Even if you dream of playing professional golf, bear in mind that there are only 125 PGA Tour Cards. As much as you love golf, you should still focus on your college education as your degree will likely be your real ticket to a career.
In addition, you will need to choose your classes wisely to ensure you can handle the workload which comes with being a student athlete. If you load up on classes which don’t really interest you, then you are going to have a hard time focusing on them and getting good grades (which is a requirement for keeping golf scholarships). If you choose many classes which are too-tough, then you will also struggle to balance student and athlete life.
9. Keep Playing Other Sports
Do you currently play another sport in addition to golf? You might be tempted to give it up and focus on golf now that you are going to college. But playing other sports can help you develop skills which translate back to golf – especially when it comes to building strength, discipline, and teamwork skills.
10. Teach Someone Else the Game
According to a study published in the Journal of Science Education and Technology, a person becomes more proficient in an activity when he or she teaches it to another person. This phenomena is called “The Protégé Effect” and it works with golf too.
By teaching someone else how to play golf, it will help you think about the sport in a new way. As you explain techniques to others, you start to realize gaps in your own skills. Plus, teaching someone golf is a great way to improve your skills in patience and teamwork.