Courtney Zeng

January 13, 2023

The Stanford ladies’s crew celebrating their NCAA Championship win final 12 months.

getty pictures

School athletics can improve the trajectory of your life, opening doorways you by no means knew existed. From my very own expertise as a Division I golfer at Vanderbilt, competing at such a excessive degree gave me the chance to go away my hometown of Windermere, Fla., encompass myself with high-achievers and entry an influential platform by which to chase my goals.

Taking part in for the Commodores was the last word take a look at, and reward. It pressured me to interrupt out of my shell and face greater than I assumed was potential. Though staying in my bubble was my consolation zone, I shortly realized I couldn’t do that alone if I needed to achieve success on and off the course. This meant studying to leverage my educational assets, constructing relationships with my professors and classmates, and prioritizing my very own well being and wellbeing.

I used to be challenged to always suppose exterior the field and to undertake a problem-solving mindset. How may I stability schoolwork, follow, match journey, social actions, and sleep? How may I make changes in my atmosphere and routine to optimize effectivity? How may I guarantee I used to be speaking my schedule calls for successfully with my professors? How may I be an accountable teammate and good pal? How may I prioritize my very own function in order that I may higher lead others?

The writer throughout her days at Vanderbilt.

IG: @courtzeng

These questions allowed me to look deep inside myself when issues obtained robust, main me to study classes and develop psychological tenacity. Now, I wish to assist college-golf hopefuls profit from the identical expertise I had, and that begins with discovering the appropriate faculty that may permit you to flourish each as a pupil and an athlete.

The recruiting course of can generally really feel like an unsolvable puzzle with one million items to assemble on the proper time. What info do you must set a strong basis? How will you differentiate your self from the competitors? Certain, you will have researched recruiting dates and signed up for tournaments, however there are different steps you’ll be able to take to place your self in the very best place to catch a coach’s eye. Listed below are 5 ways that may allow you to maximize your possibilities of getting that supply.

1. What’s your ‘why’?

That is the million-dollar query you will need to ask your self earlier than embarking on any journey. It’s additionally a query school coaches are assured to ask you on cellphone calls and visits: “Why do you wish to play school golf?” An SEC coach advised me that the very best gamers ask and reply three key questions: How am I going to attain “x”, what do I would like to attain “x” and why do I wish to obtain “x.” Gamers with a robust sense of WHY are extra environment friendly and efficient in every little thing they do.

Your “why” can be necessary as a result of it comes from inside and can compel you to do the work even if you lose motivation — or when progressing requires ache within the short-term. Your why will maintain you pushed to pursue the work as a result of it aligns together with your function no matter what you sacrifice within the second. Your why is the individuality that units you aside from everybody else.

Gamers with a robust sense of WHY are extra environment friendly and efficient in every little thing they do.

Courtney Zeng

Not solely does your “why” encourage you to take motion but it surely’s additionally what evokes others to take motion. Right here’s learn how to discover your private “why”:

-Perceive that everybody’s “why” is completely different. Motivators embody teachers, scholarships, the possibility to play skilled golf or just having a deep love for the sport.

-Make your why easy, clear and actionable.

-Take into account how your why will assist your teammates and others in your circle.

-Ask as many questions as potential: Why do I do “x”? Why is “x” necessary to me? Why do I worth “this” over “that”?

2. Perceive what school coaches worth past stats and rankings

Your junior rankings and stats will at all times be a precedence, however there are lots of different components school coaches contemplate when recruiting gamers. From my private expertise, I wasn’t the top-ranked junior participant going into the method. In truth, I used to be a late bloomer.

Why play 4 years of faculty golf? Cole Hammer explains


James Colgan

However as a substitute of dwelling on the truth that I lacked expertise and time in comparison with my rivals, I used it as gasoline for every little thing I did. If I needed to play school golf and achieve success, I had no different selection. This mindset allowed me to win one of many first AJGA tournaments I competed in, giving me exemption into greater caliber occasions and invitationals across the nation. My mindset set me aside with how I carried myself on and off the course, together with my management expertise. This type of cultural match simply so occurred to be what Vanderbilt was on the lookout for.

Coaches wish to discover somebody who they’ll nurture and mould. I’ve a number of mates who performed D1 golf who weren’t top-ranked juniors however excelled as soon as they began competing on the collegiate degree. Why? These have been the commonest themes discovered after learning these gamers:

-Calm mindset and perspective in high-pressure conditions

-Skill to adapt/modify shortly when one thing isn’t working

-Extremely coachable

Fortunately, these three behaviors are all inside your management. Though golf is a person sport by which you’re accountable for your individual rating, I can’t stress sufficient the significance of being a crew participant and with the ability to take constructive suggestions. Figuring out which qualities your goal colleges worth most is crucial, as a result of every school may have completely different expectations, time commitments and targets.

I can’t stress sufficient the significance of being a crew participant.

Courtney Zeng (heart, with trophy)

3. Do your homework and embody what it means to be a school golfer

What sort of athlete do you want to change into? What scores do gamers at your goal faculty shoot, and from what yardages? How do they follow? How do they eat and prepare? How do they conduct their post-round analyses?

You’ll be when you prime your exterior atmosphere NOW to embody the habits of a profitable school golfer. Researching and understanding what is anticipated of a school’s athletes will permit you to be extra intentional in your individual coaching. Scientists have discovered that our environments are largely what form human habits, no matter motivation or expertise ranges.

He had by no means touched a golf membership. This school crew took an opportunity on him anyway


Josh Sens

What typically will be misjudged as a scarcity of motivation or self-discipline truly is simply the results of a poor atmosphere. The adage “winners typically win as a result of their atmosphere makes profitable simpler” is necessary to recollect as you purpose to set your self aside early on.

Though I entered the recruiting course of late, I used to be in a position to shave years off my studying curve as a result of I took notes on how school golfers behaved, practiced, exercised and even ate. Attain out to any present school golfers you already know or AJGA employees, and do your homework. Our environments can drive each good and unhealthy habits. Athletes who’ve the self-discipline to stay to productive habits are sometimes letting their atmosphere work for and never towards them.

A few useful assets for monitoring and following school golf scores embody:

–Golfstat (school golf scores and stats)

–School Golf Information (free membership if you join the AJGA)

4. Perceive recruiting timelines and put together for match schedules forward of time

As you’re engaged on crafting your junior match schedule, it’s necessary to understand how coaches rank the completely different classes of tour organizations. Usually, this checklist is in ascending order of significance and caliber:

– Native/state/regional junior excursions

– State golf associations (open to all amateurs)

– Nationwide junior excursions (AJGA, IGJT, and many others.)

– Nationwide invitationals (USGA championships, Junior World, and many others.)

Every class has its personal execs and cons. Smaller tournaments on the native degree are an effective way that can assist you construct confidence and create momentum with wins, whereas nationwide tournaments present coaches the way you compete towards the very best gamers within the nation. Nationwide occasions additionally are typically held at harder programs with longer setups. It’s necessary to seek out the appropriate stability of tournaments that aligns together with your potential, finances and targets. A number of excursions, significantly the AJGA, supply monetary assist and scholarships.

I used to be on the ripe previous age of 13 once I began taking part in competitively. My first tournaments have been native excursions round Orlando and wherever I’d be allowed to enter. After two years of taking part in in Central Florida, I spotted I wanted to register for state tournaments if I needed to take my recreation to the following degree.

Time wasn’t on my facet when, at 16, I began with the Florida Junior Tour hosted by the Florida State Golf Affiliation, however I can’t say sufficient optimistic issues about my expertise. From the match hosts to the volunteers, the tour was extraordinarily supportive and supplied a plethora of assets to junior golfers. I primarily performed all through the state of Florida for a 12 months, incomes stars that gave me exemptions into AJGA occasions across the nation. Though I used to be often the participant with the least aggressive expertise, the years spent grinding it out with the FJT and being attentive to what the very best juniors have been doing enabled me to win my third AJGA match I ever performed in. This occurred to be an Open occasion in Florida and a pivotal second in my profession as a result of it gave me exemptions into the Rolex Junior Ladies and varied different nationwide invitationals.

I additionally began taking part in USGA qualifiers and earned my manner into the U.S. Ladies’ Junior each years in addition to the U.S. Girls’s Beginner. I owe these pivotal moments to the varied junior excursions that work tirelessly to help junior golfers. This can be a nice hyperlink to Getting Began with the AJGA — it’s at all times higher to begin early!

Trying again at my profession on paper, I wasn’t supposed to achieve success. There have been different ladies who began golf at a lot earlier ages with superior teaching and assets. A predominant element to my success was realizing myself, my recreation, my limits, studying from the very best gamers and adapting shortly when one thing stopped working. No two gamers are the identical, so spend time understanding learn how to make the method be just right for you.

No two gamers are the identical. Concentrate on learn how to make the method be just right for you.

courtney zeng

5. Prioritize programs and fall in love with the method

Whenever you fall in love with the method somewhat than the tip end result, every day turns into a brand new alternative to strengthen the programs you place in place that can assist you obtain your targets. As James Clear, writer of “Atomic Habits” requested: When you utterly ignored your targets and centered solely in your system, would you continue to succeed? For instance, when you have been a basketball coach and also you ignored your aim to win a championship and centered solely on what your crew does at follow every day, would you continue to get outcomes?

The aim in golf is to submit the very best rating, but it surely wouldn’t make sense to spend the entire spherical strategizing in regards to the 18th gap. You should play every shot because it comes. Similar goes in your journey to enhance: purpose to get 1% higher every day and the tip end result — your rating — will care for itself.

Whenever you dare to dream large and set up robust programs and foundations to attain your targets, a strong shift occurs. You’ll take pleasure in better course and function in your life and achieve confidence that may push you to succeed much more as soon as your targets are achieved. I promise, no matter your college-golf recruiting outcomes, you’ll develop a stronger relationship with your self by way of this journey.

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