A little over 11% of NCAA college athletes are international students; it oversees more than 450,000 students in total in more than 1,200 universities. On the other hand, the NAIA ‘only’ has about 60,000 student-athletes in roughly 250 universities. The NJCAA is very much the junior governing body of the three but has become an excellent stepping stone for athletes looking to move up into a four-year NCAA or NAIA institute.
There are about 1,318 colleges and universities in the United States with golf programs. Nine hundred and seventy-two of those programs offer athletic scholarships. However, competition for scholarships is also high.
Read on to find out how to improve your chances of obtaining a golf scholarship in the USA as an international student.
What Does it Take to Get a Golf Scholarship?
Coaches and schools have a limited amount of scholarship funds that they distribute across multiple golfers. To get a scholarship, students often need a combination of good grades and athletic ability.
Potential NCAA college athletes need to register through the NCAA eligibility centre. You also need to meet the academic requirements for the division level of the schools that you apply to:
Division 1 – 2.3 GPA
Division 2 – 2.2 GPA
Division 3 – 2.0 GPA
To work out your equivalent GPA from GCSEs and A-Levels you need to convert each grade you received into a numerical value and calculate the average. You do it like this:
GCSE to GPA Conversions:
A* = 4.0
A = 4.0
B = 3.7
C = 3.0
D = 2.3
E = 2.0
F = 1.3
G = 1.0
A-Level to GPA Conversions:
A* = 5.0
A = 5.0
B = 4.7
C = 4.0
D = 3.3
E = 3.0
F = 2.3
G = 2.0
So, if you got eight GCSEs (A, B, B, C, C, D, D and D) and two A-Levels (B and C) the calculation would be:
4+3.7+3.7+3+3+2.3+2.3+2.3+4.7+4.0 ÷ 10 = 3.3 GPA
In the NCAA, there are close to 300 Division 1 teams, with an average of 10 players per team. Coaches can only award scholarships to 4.5 student-athletes per team.
A little over 200 teams compete at the NCAA Division 2 level schools and give scholarships to 3.6 students per team.
Division 3 programs cannot award scholarships to students. However, students can still obtain academic scholarships while playing in a Division 3 program.
Outside of the NCAA divisions, some students join golf programs that belong to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 for international students. As well as needing a minimum GPA of 2.0, international students looking to gain a NAIA scholarship must also have graduated in the top half of their high school class, or achieve a minimum of 16 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT.
You will need to submit transcripts of your SAT/ACT scores and pass the equivalent of 16 core high school courses.
The NJCAA eligibility requirements aren’t as strict as the NCAA or NAIA. They will require you to show proof that you graduated high school or have received your GED equivalent. If you didn’t graduate high school, you could become eligible by completing a term of college courses made up of 12 credits with a 1.75 GPA.
As with the academic requirements, the athletic requirements vary depending on the division. Coaches look for the top players in the state, regional, and international tournaments. Here is a closer look at the typical requirements based on the average scores of student athletes:
Division 1 – 65 to 75 for men / 66 to 78 for women
Division 2 – 67 to 77 for men / 68 to 82 for women
Division 3 – 68 to 80 for men / 70 to 92 for women
NAIA – 72 to 80 for men / 75 to 95 for women
Getting a golf scholarship typically requires experience playing as an amateur in some capacity. The level of experience you’ll need depends on the level and division you’re aiming to play at. But, regardless of the level you compete at (local, regional, country or national), you still have the opportunity to play for an American university.
For example, NCAA D1 mandates tournament experience and a national ranking. As an international student, you may need to focus on international competitions. The Global Junior Golf Rankings (GJGR) is the most comprehensive ranking site for golfers around the world.
When it comes to golf, these are the various levels of experience you’ll need to get a scholarship as an international student:
NCAA D1 - National and world ranking points
NCAA D2 - Playing county and local events
NCAA D3 - 5 Handicap or less playing local events
NAIA - Varies from world ranking points to local golf tournaments
NCJAA - Varies from world ranking points to local golf tournament
How to Get Started on Your Path to a Golf Scholarship
If you meet the academic and athletic requirements, the next step is to reach out to colleges and coaches. Unfortunately, this entire process is often overwhelming, especially for international students.
The Scholarship Club can provide the help needed for those looking to study in the USA on a golf scholarship. Our team helps you understand the scholarship system in the USA, making it easier to find suitable scholarship opportunities and get money for college.
Our scholarship experts have coached hundreds of international students who went on to receive substantial amounts of money for college. You may even receive a scholarship from your top choice university.
Apply to The Scholarship Club today to explore golf scholarship options in the USA!