No, I don’t have personal experience as a college golf coach, but many of my friends from junior, college and professional golf have all taken on roles as assistants and head coaches at colleges all over the country. I spend a lot of time talking with coaches, walking with them at tournaments and picking their brains. So, while I don’t see what they go through first hand on a daily basis, I thought I would try to be their voice to the junior golfers, the parents, and the current collegiate golfers.
You won’t find many that will complain because they love their job and know the territory that comes with being a college coach but the hours really are endless. There is no leaving the office at 4pm and rarely do they have weekends off or holiday breaks. They not only travel 9-11 tournaments out of the year for the team (plus qualifying) but they also spend most of their free weekends, summers and holidays traveling for recruiting.
They have athletic directors, administration, boosters and alumni who expect them to build a winning tradition or else their job could be on the line. They have paperwork to take care of, budgets to work with, money to raise and facilities to maintain. They deal with all the ups and downs of the players on the team: the drama, the emotions, the personalities, the parents, the typical college student issues. Believe me, that is a job in itself.
Many of the golf coaches do all of this while also taking care of a family at home. Most of them will tell you they have two families because they consider their team to be just like family. These golf coaches put their heart and soul into their jobs. Obviously, they want to keep their job and have a winning team but most importantly, for most coaches, they just want to see each player become the best golfer and the best person they can be. Sometimes this can be very difficult to understand when you are a 19-22 year old in college and you feel like your coach is being unfair or too strict.
I know for me it was. I was fortunate to be coached by one of the most respected coaches in college golf. Mic Potter built a legendary women’s golf program at Furman University before going to the University of Alabama and turning their team into a National Championship team. He and I both laugh a little when we look back on my career at Furman and the ups and downs we had as player/coach. Many times I wanted to be a typical college student when he wanted me out there working on my game. He always wanted me to set goals but I lived by the philosophy of whatever happens, happens (not such a good philosophy). I was so lucky to have a coach that treated us as individuals and taught us how to be independent players and people. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s easy to look at things differently now that I am older but I wish I would have appreciated the dedication, commitment, and determination that a college coach puts into each and every player. Golf coach Potter might have a few less gray hairs if I would have.
So as you go throughout the recruiting process keep in mind that these coaches are taking time out of their busy schedules, away from their families, to come out and watch you play or spend time with you on a visit or chat with you in the evenings. Even if you don’t want to attend their school, give the golf coach the respect and time they deserve for what they are trying to do for you. Never think that you are better than their school because it isn’t a high ranked program or not good enough academically for you.
And if you are getting ready to head off to college next year always keep in mind that college coaches endure a lot year after year as they strive to build a winning program. While it may not always seem like the case, they really do want what is best for you and only want to help you reach your fullest potential. Keep in mind the sacrifices they are making to be there at every practice, every workout, every tournament. Try to see things from their perspective and understand why they might be upset or want you to do things you don’t want to do. You made a commitment to let them coach you, so let them do their job.
Be humble, be coachable and be appreciative!
Brandi is a college recruiting consultant based in Greenville, SC where she runs Brandi Jackson Golf to consult and advise junior golf families on the college recruiting process.