Unlike many countries where sports are played as part of a club within club leagues, amateur competitive sports in the US are mostly played in college leagues. Competing universities and colleges are divided into different divisions based on credentials such as size and curriculum on offer.
The college or university you attend and therefore the league you compete in depends on your golfing and academic ability. However, all US leagues are full of high quality competing athletes which means you will regularly be playing against the best in the world in your age group and league.
NCAA stands for National Collegiate Athletic Association and is a voluntary organisation through which US universities and colleges govern their athletics programmes. It has more than 1,250 institutions, conferences, organisations and individuals. The NCAA is divided into three legislative and competitive divisions. NCAA I is the largest and strongest division with the most universities. Smaller colleges and universities play in the NCAA II division. The NCAA III division is the weakest and universities in this division do not award scholarships like those in the other two divisions.
Academic entry requirements for NCAA institutions are five or more different academic subject passes at GCSE grades A-E or Scottish standard grades 1-7. Must include maths, English, science and social studies (history, geography etc.) and have an overall average C or 3 grade.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics or NAIA, is much smaller than the NCAA both in terms of member institutions and sports on offer. The level of performance in the NAIA is similar to that of the NCAA II division. However, it is worth noting that because the divisions are ranked by factors other than simply performance, this means that the top teams in the NCAA II can be better than the bottom teams in the NCAA I.
To qualify for an NAIA you would typically need an overall average C or 3 grade in GCSE subjects, Scottish standard grades or an alternative qualification such as a GNVQ or GSVQ if the school authorities can confirm that your marks were in the top 50% of the class.
The NJCAA is the National Junior College Athletic Association. These are essentially preparatory institutions for student athletes to attend with a view to achieving the required results for entrance to a higher level college or university.