Create a Winning Junior Golf Tournament Schedule for College Recruiting
Playing in junior golf tournaments can be one of the most fun, challenging and rewarding experiences in a young golfer’s life. It’s a chance to get the competitive juices flowing, play against the top golfers in your area (or the country) and sharpen your skills.
However, figuring out your golf tournament schedule can sometimes feel daunting and even a little confusing. Which events should I sign up for? Where will college coaches be?
Understand the Three Basic Types of Junior Golf Tournaments
There are thousands of junior golf tournaments to choose from, including local, PGA section, club, regional, state, USGA, AJGA, junior tour and national events. Never mind single-day, multi-day, opens, invitationals and performance-based entry events.
Knowing which types of tournaments you want to focus on will fill your calendar with the best options for playing golf in college.
1. Local Junior Golf Tournaments
Local golf events are close to home and typically draw players from your city or county. These events are usually 18 holes and serve as a great entry-level event to experience competition for the first time or to get you back in the swing of things after a break.
Examples of local golf tournaments include PGA section, U.S. Kids and golf club events.
2. Regional Junior Golf Tournaments
Regional golf events tend to draw players from your state or region. These golf tournaments are usually multi-day events that cover 36-54 holes. These events, depending on the tour, can be listed on Junior Golf Scoreboard and help you build your junior golf rankings for college recruitment.
Examples of regional events include those on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT), North Texas PGA All-American Tour (North Texas), the U.S. Challenge Cup (Northeast), Southeast Junior Golf Tour and Rocky Mountain Junior Tour (Rocky Mountain region).
3. National Junior Golf Tournaments
National golf tournaments are popular nation- and worldwide and draw a diverse group of players. These events also go for 36 or more holes and are even more likely to be eligible for junior golf rankings. If you’re looking to get on NCAA golf coaches’ radars, these are the events you want to work towards.
Examples of national tournaments include those hosted by the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), U.S. Junior Amateur, Orange Bowl, Trusted Choice Big-I and more.
Which Junior Golf Tournament Type Should I Play First?
When building your junior golf tournament schedule, it’s important to note where you are in your golf journey. Are you in middle school or the beginning of high school and looking to get some competitive experience under your belt? Or are you heading into your sophomore or junior year of high school with plenty of tournament experience and working a full-court press on college recruiting?
Junior Golf Hub recommends a “crawl, walk, run” strategy through the different tournament levels. If you’re new to golf tournaments, start at the local level and gain some experience; then you can progress to regional and then national tournaments.
To measure your success and to determine when you’re ready to level up, take note of when you’re winning or are highly competitive at the current level. Build a strong foundation and then challenge yourself at the next level.
Selecting Regional and National Junior Golf Tournaments
Not all junior golf tournaments are created equal, and if your goal is to play in college, there’s a strategy for choosing which events to enter. You’ll want to ensure each tournament you play is ranked or eligible for AJGA performance-based entry (which then leads to more ranked events). To earn a Junior Golf Scoreboard ranking, you need to play in at least four 36-hole events, which you can find at the regional level or higher.
Playing in Enough Junior Golf Tournaments
This brings us to our last point – making sure you are competing in enough junior golf tournaments to be truly eligible for college golf recruiting. Junior golf rankings aren’t everything when it comes to recruiting, but college coaches, especially Division 1 coaches for both men and women’s programs, often look at Junior Golf Scoreboard and AJGA rankings.
Junior Golf Scoreboard requires four tournaments within a rolling 52-week period to qualify for rankings, and AJGA recommends six events in the same timeframe; some of these you can knock out with one event as most AJGA events will also be eligible on Junior Golf Scoreboard.
In addition to rankings, playing in golf tournaments is a fun way to test your skills and gain experience, including strengthening your golf mental game. Plus, competing allows you to meet fellow golfers and play some incredible golf courses!