Embarking on a US golf scholarship should be an exciting step in any young person’s life, however you will undoubtedly have many questions about what it involves. While by no means an exhaustive list, below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about golf scholarships in the US.
Q. What is a golf scholarship?
Q. Why do colleges and universities offer golf scholarships?
Q. How will I benefit from a golf scholarship?
Q. What kind of academic qualification can I get?
Q. Who decides if I get a scholarship?
Q. How good does my golf need to be?
Q. What academic qualification do I need?
Q. What does NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA mean?
Q. How long will the scholarship last?
Q. How much of a scholarship can I receive?
Q. What is the SAT?
Q. What SAT result do I need for admission?
Q. When can I complete the SAT?
Q. What is the TOEFEL?
Q. Who is eligible to play for a NCAA division university?
Q. Who is eligible to play for a NAIA division university?
Q. Who is eligible to play for a NJCAA division college?
On a golf scholarship, you help pay for the cost of your academic qualification by representing your college or university golf team in competitions and tournaments. In essence, you are combining study for your academic qualification with practicing and playing golf. You have to have reached a certain level in golf and have the correct academic credentials before you are offered a scholarship.
Combining scholarship athletics with academic qualifications is more common in the US. American universities and colleges have teams in many sports and employ coaches to professionally manage these teams. By competing in competitions and tournaments with other institutions across the US, the sports teams are effectively advertising and promoting their institutions to attract new student athletes from around the world. Success at a regional or national level can raise the profile of that institution. Golf is a very popular sport in the US with many offering golf scholarships as part of their athletics programme.
You will have access to top level golf coaches and facilities through regular practice sessions on campus as part of your curriculum. You will compete with the best in the world at your level, gain valuable experience in competitions and tournaments and raise your profile as a golfer. A better climate means you will be able to practice your golf all year round. It is also an opportunity for personal development through meeting new friends, experiencing other cultures and travelling throughout the US. A US golf scholarship will help you decide if you want to take golf further professionally and equip you with a qualification that will serve you in another career if you don’t.
Just like in the UK and most other countries, the US has different levels of universities and colleges. This means you can gain different types of qualifications from a degree to a diploma, depending on what institution you attend. The range of subjects offered in the US is much larger than most other countries and you can generally apply to study any of the courses on offer at the institution in conjunction with your golf scholarship (subject to your academic credentials).
Golf scholarships are granted by the university or college, or in some cases by the athletic association in which they participate. Golf coaches usually play a key role in deciding who is offered a scholarship.
There are no hard and fast rules about this. Before awarding a scholarship, coaches will take into consideration not just your golfing credentials but your academic standards and personal dedication. The standard of golf required depends on the institution to which you apply. With such a large number of institutions covering a wide range of ability, prodream USA will be able to give you a realistic indication of your potential for securing a scholarship.
This is exactly the same as if you were attending a university or college as an ordinary student and depends on the university or college you attend and what course you study. You must meet the normal entrance requirements for that institution and course. The various different sporting authorities in the US have set their own academic requirements for competing students.
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
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.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
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.
National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)
Those who do not qualify for either of the above but who are talented athletes may be able to gain admission to a junior college. Each college will set its own entrance requirements. Only 25% of scholarships at a junior college can be given to international students.
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 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.
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.
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.
Scholarships are awarded on a year-by-year basis. They can generally be renewed for up to four years, which is the normal time required to complete an undergraduate degree in the US. You must continue to achieve satisfactory grades to continue to be awarded a scholarship from one year to the next.
This varies from one institution to the next. When awarded a golf scholarship, it may not necessarily cover the full cost of tuition fees and maintenance. Scholarships are awarded on a percentage basis. For example, an 80% scholarship will cover 80% of the total cost for one year. Institutions have strict limits on the total amount they can award each year. This means they may offer a larger number of smaller awards instead of a smaller number of large awards. For example, an institution that has four 100% scholarships, may split them into eight 50% scholarships to facilitate twice the number of student athletes.
The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a combination of maths and English tests. This is required for all students registering for the NCAA Clearing House.
This is dependent of which level of university or college you attend. Guidelines for the different sporting authorities are detailed below.
NCAA - National Collegiate Athletic Association
The NCAA applies a sliding scale for the minimum SAT scores that are required for acceptance to NCAA Division I colleges. This will be dependent on your average academic grade. The higher your average academic grade, the lower the minimum SAT score required. So, students who have achieved an average academic grade of B- must obtain a minimum SAT score of 820 points out of a possible 1,600, whilst students with an average academic grade of C must score a minimum of 1010. To compete at NCAA II, you will require a minimum score of 820.
NAIA - National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
You must have a minimum score of 860 on the SAT to compete at a NAIA institution. (If you take the SAT more than once, combining scores is not acceptable.)
NJCAA - National Junior College Athletic Association
You are not required to the exam for NJCAA colleges.
The test is given in the UK six times per year and you must pre-register at least six weeks in advance to meet registration deadlines. You are advised to take the test in the autumn before or at the latest, the spring of the year that you intend to enter college. It may be possible to get a SAT waiver, which would allow you to take the SAT after you arrive on campus but you must contact individual institutions directly to enquire about this waiver.
The TOEFEL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is an English language test, which is required for enrolment at any American university if your native language is not English.
To play at a college or university within any NCAA division you must meet their eligibility requirements. For NCAA I, you have five years from the date of your first enrolment at any university in the world to compete in four years of competition. There is an age limit of 26 for players in the NCAA I, which means you must stop competing on the day you turn 25 and any scholarship must finish at the end of that semester. NCAA II and III have no age limits and allow 10 semesters of college attendance (which need not be consecutive) to complete four years of eligibility.
If you are applying to a university that is a member of the NCAA, you will need to register with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. This agency provides initial eligibility certification for all prospective NCAA athletes. It is not a placement agency. It provides initial eligibility certification results to colleges and universities that request the information. To register with the NCAA Clearinghouse, you must submit an application, original academic records (certified, literal translation of non-English records is required), SAT scores and a fee of US$ 27.
Eligibility requirements for an NAIA institution are gathered by the individual institutions and submitted to the NAIA. If you have questions regarding your eligibility status at a NAIA institution, please contact the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) at the institution in which you wish to enrol. The FAR is the only person on campus who can verify the eligibility of the institution's athletes.
The scholarship process for a NJCAA division college is very similar but there are fewer eligibility requirements.