Want to play golf in college? Here is what you need to know…

If you are the parent of a child or junior golfer who is interested in playing tournament golf and eventually applying for college golf scholarships then today’s blog post is for you!  It is very important to understand what the different division and association standards are at the collegiate level. Here is the 411 on collegiate golf divisions and how to prepare for college golf.

If you are considering applying for a golf scholarship in the future or even playing a sport in college then you will need to enroll in one of the three college related athletic associations. These associations are the ones that determine if you are eligible to play college sports or not. The three athletic sports associations are NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA.  The level or division of the college or university that you plan to apply to will determine which association that your child should join. Keep in mind that each school has a designated association for registration in sports.  



The first and biggest association is NCAA, The National Collegiate Athletic Association. There are over 1000 schools associated with NCAA for the sport of golf. The Division 1 level is associated with the largest schools and offers the most scholarship money to students. There are three divisions within the association: Division 1, 2 and 3 schools. Division 1 has the reputation for the ‘best’ athletic programs, not specifically just in golf, but overall these schools generally have more money for sports programs. The determining factor for a Division 1, 2 or 3 school is the size of the college or university and how many sports teams they offer for males and females. In order to be a Division 1 school, there must be seven sports teams that the college provides for both female and male sports.  

Your first step is to see which schools your child is interested in and would like to apply to and then see which association is affiliated with that particular school. For NCAA, you will need to sign up online and make a profile at the eligibility center.  You can set up your profile during your Sophomore year. You also will need to pay the fee.  In order for the NCAA school to accept you into an athletic program, you must meet the eligibility requirements from the NCAA for the schools associated with them. Students will report their GPA, SAT scores, your percentile within your class and core classes to date.  If you are a great golfer but your GPA is lower than 2.5, then you will not be able to play in any sports under the NCAA guidelines.


Many golfers desire to attend a Division 1 school. However, keep in mind that how much you play depends on how skilled you are-each week!  For instance, you play in North Carolina and you have ten people on the golf team but there are only three spots for the upcoming tournament.  You will compete against your teammates to qualify to play in a tournament or the coach can decide who will play that week.  So having a scholarship for Division 1 could be great for the name but that does not necessarily mean you will be playing every event. Playing Division 1 golf may not necessarily be the best option for your child because ideally you would like your child to participate in as many collegiate tournaments as possible.  For large schools that are Division 1, your child could be on the bench most of the time. With this being said, it is potentially better to be a ‘big fish in a little pond than a small fish in a big pond’.


We, at GNCGA, offer full guidance to prepare our students for college and also to assist them in researching schools where they can be offered the best scholarship opportunities.


Division 3 for NCAA does not offer athletic scholarships-only academic scholarships based on a student’s GPA.  This means the athletic program is not as big, but a student can obtain an academic scholarship and still play collegiate golf. That is why it is important to make sure your student keeps his/her grades up.


How to get started?

Your child needs to create an account with the NCAA Clearinghouse. Remember-the student can start the process during their Sophomore year in high school. The NCAA website is an online profile where students submit their grades beginning with 9th grade through graduation and also have their SAT send scores directly to the NCAA. Any coach, who wants to see their scores, can request it from NCAA. A coach will not  be able to contact the junior player if they are not signed up in the NCAA Clearinghouse.



NAIA, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, is the second most desired association. It is a regular four year college but there are only 150 schools associated with NAIA that have a golf college program. You also have to create a profile online via an account which can be created at Playnaia.org. The cost is $70 for domestic students and $130 for international students.



NJCAA, National Junior College Athletic Association, is the smallest association. Better known as junior colleges or community colleges, the schools in this association offer freshman and sophomore classes only. There is Division 1 for both men and women and Division 2  just for men. If your child doesn’t get a scholarship for NCAA and he/she wants to be eligible for a transfer, they can still play golf at a NJCAA school for two years and transfer to a NCAA school. Keep in mind they will have to begin the whole eligibility process again and meet the requirements determined by the NCAA.


Overall being eligible to play and being associated with NCAA is phenomenal. We are honored to allow boys and girls to participate in our program at GNCGA and receive the guidance they need in order to apply to a college or university and receive the scholarship of their dreams.