For those starting their college golf careers (and for those players in the recruiting process) I thought I would share some pics of my college golf days and pass along a few reminders as you begin the best 4 years of your life! Times have certainly changed but a few things still remain the same.
1Playing college golf is a privilege
Yes, you earned it thru hard work and dedication as a junior golfer, but it’s still not something you’re “entitled” to, it is an opportunity provided to you that comes with a lot of responsibility and respect! Do not EVER take that for granted!!
2Be a good teammate
Many aspects of college golf are still very individual but remember that you’re part of a team. Support and cheer for your teammates, help them out any way you can, don’t stir up team drama and embrace their unique qualities and different backgrounds. On our team in college, we had players from MN, PA, CT, SC, GA, IL and RI. We had Catholics, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witness, non-denominational and non-believers. We had social butterflies and we had homebodies. We had players from wealthy families and we had ones from lower income families. We had girls who had played other sports and we had ones who had only played golf. We had girls who liked to eat healthily and we had ones who did not. We had girls who liked to work out, and we had ones who did not. We had girls who wanted to play on the LPGA Tour and we had ones who did not. All kinds of backgrounds, expectations, beliefs, personalities, and goals, but at the end of the day we were a team and we had to find a way to support each other and get along when it counted.
3It will humble you
College golf will probably be the first time you’re going to be on a team of players who are as good if not better than you. That is tough for some players to handle. Do not look at that as a negative, but instead look at it as an opportunity to be on a team of players who will push you to get better. You will play in college tournaments against not just the best players in your state and region or even in the US, but from all over the world. And you will play with juniors and seniors who have much more experience at the college golf level than you do. So check your ego on the first day of practice and embrace the humbling experience that you are about to take on.
4Believe in yourself
While this is certainly going to be one of the most humbling experiences you will encounter, it is also a time that you must maintain belief in yourself and your abilities. There is a reason the coach chose you to play on the team. It may mean a different timeline or process from the others but maintain your confidence and stay focused on your goals.
5Coach knows best
While there are certainly some bad seeds in the college coaching world and some decisions that may not seem like the best idea, try to remember that you chose to play for the coach and hopefully you did your homework to get to know them during the process. I know this is easier said than done and there are always instances of “two sides to the story” but for the most part during your college golf career your college coach is going to know what’s best for you as an individual and for the team as a whole. So respect their rules and their decisions. Trust them. Ask them for help. And most importantly, let them coach you!
Rarely will you ever feel like you have plenty of time as a college golfer so do your best to stay ahead in every way possible. Get assignments done when they are given to you. Don’t procrastinate. Ask the professors for ways you can stay ahead when you will be traveling. Get errands done. Squeeze in social time when you can, but prioritize what is most important to you and your commitment to the coach and team.
7Stay fit and healthy
Yes, you are a college kid who is going to order pizza late at night, grab whatever you can in the dining hall, eat EasyMac, go to Waffle House at 2 am, eat junk food and probably not work out unless it’s mandatory. But keep in mind that you are a student-athlete, not just a student, so your health and well-being affect your performance, along with your team and your coaches. Your coach or trainer can’t tell you what to do when to go to bed, and what to eat every hour of the day, so take ownership of that yourself a make better choices to allow you to be at your peak performance level.
8Enjoy the ride
It doesn’t matter if you are playing at a small DIII school or a big DI powerhouse, the experience of playing college golf is unlike any other experience that you will ever encounter. Your coach and teammates will become like family, you will sweat together at workouts, study together on the bus rides, cry together after a tough loss, complain together about what the coach is making you do, encourage each other during personal struggles, pick each other up when things aren’t going well, cheer each other on at the golf course and become better athletes and young women all at the same time.
Brandi Jackson had a stellar collegiate career at Furman University, before going on to play professionally for eight years on the LPGA and Symetra Tour. In 2012 Brandi was inducted into the Furman University Athletic Hall of Fame, and she serves on the Board of Directors for The Blade Jr Classic. She runs her own business out of Greenville, South Carolina where she consults junior golf families all over the world on competitive junior golf and the college recruiting process. For more information on Brandi Jackson, visit her website at www.brandijacksongolf.com. Follow Brandi on Twitter @bjacksongolf and Instagram @bjacksongolf.
For more information about college golf recruiting and competitive junior golf, including Brandi’s innovative online Golf Recruiting 101 Course and Recruit Caddy Service, visit www.brandijacksongolf.com.