In a Part One of this article series, the “repeating a grade” option was
explored and examined. Now, let’s explore the “post-grad year” option.
For years, post-graduate programs have afforded students the opportunity to
mature and grow emotionally, strengthen their academic profiles in an attempt to
gain admittance into higher ranked universities, develop more proficient study
habits and time management skills, and enhance their community service/overall
resume for the college admissions process. In recent years, the post-grad
option has been considered by student-athletes, as well, in an effort to bolster
their athletic profiles.
Upon high school graduation, certain junior golfers should consider pursuing
a post-grad (or gap) year for the following reasons:
1. It allows additional time for junior players to develop their respective
golf and academic profiles, thus creating more opportunities for better college
2. Student-athletes who committed to golf late in the process (the classic
“late bloomers”) would now have the potential opportunity to compete at the
3. Junior golfers residing in colder climates that limit year-round
opportunities and access to practice and compete could spend a year in warmer
weather destinations to allocate an additional full season to developing their game.
4. Finally, some prospective student-athletes are young relative to their
peers upon high school graduation, and an additional year prior to entering
college would afford them the opportunity to develop and mature before
matriculating at the university level as full-time students.
While the post-grad option is certainly not for everyone, it does provide an
additional year of personal, academic, and athletic growth and better positions
the junior golfer in his pursuit of college opportunities. Furthermore, the
post-grad plan better ensures that a student-athlete is best prepared for the
busy life of a collegiate student-athlete. Once the junior player determines a
post-graduate year aligns with his respective golf and academic goals, there are
a few options to consider.
The two most popular post-graduate year options for junior golfers are (1)
attending a golf academy in a warm climate or (2) creating a structured,
personalized golf and academic program of their own. The golf academy option
includes a built-in structure and curriculum for the junior golfer, complete
with academic offerings, golf instruction, a fitness program, and access to
tournament competitions. Junior golfers who go about their post-graduate year on
their own would need to organize their own daily schedules, workouts, and
tournaments and take a couple of classes each semester either online or at a
local college. (Taking less than a minimum full load prevents the
student-athlete from “triggering” his NCAA clock and thus preserves his
five-year window, which states a “student-athlete shall complete his or her
seasons of participation within five calendar years from the beginning of the
semester or quarter in which the student-athlete first registered for a minimum
full-time program of studies in a college institution.”) Additionally, there
are preparatory schools (primarily in the northeast) that offer post-graduate
opportunities and, in some cases, could work for golfers. With each scenario,
it’s important to keep in mind the following:
1. Create and implement a detailed plan for your post-grad year that includes
an academic curriculum (important to maintain the discipline and mental exercise
of a student-athlete), regular golf instruction, a comprehensive fitness
program, and regular/frequent tournament competition. Specifically, with respect
to tournament opportunities, a post-graduate golfer would be able to compete in
select junior tours (that allow 19-year-old high school graduates to compete) as
well as a myriad of local, regional, and national amateur events.
2. Ensure you have met the NCAA Initial Eligibility Requirements upon high
school graduation. Refer to both the
NCAA Eligibility Center website and the
2015-16 NCAA Guide for
the College Bound Student-Athlete as resources. Specifically, NCAA
(NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.1) permits post-graduate competition during the calendar
year upon high school graduation and prior to full-time collegiate enrollment.
However, multiple gap years would be disadvantageous to prospective
student-athletes and would have a negative effect on eligibility.
3. Communicate your detailed plan for a post-grad year to your schools of
interest, making them aware of your intentions and goals for this additional
year. You should continue to focus on the important recruiting action items
during this post-grad year (e.g., email updates, calls, campus visits, attending
college tournaments to observe schools during competition, etc.).
The junior player pursuing a post-grad year must be highly motivated and
prepared to deal with the reality that the vast majority of his high school
friends are matriculating at a university right away and beginning the next
chapter of their lives. Also, remember there is no guarantee a junior player
will improve his college options solely because he chooses to defer enrollment
following a post-grad year. This additional year is best suited for junior
players who are sincerely committed to investing time to improve the overall
golf and academic resume in an effort to create additional (and better) college
options at the conclusion of his post-graduate experience. In any case, he will
likely be better prepared for life as a college student-athlete.
Each junior player should carefully consider his individual situation when
evaluating the post-grad year option, as well as the possibility of repeating a
grade in school. The additional time both of these options provides can be used
to help a prospective student-athlete optimize his college fit both from an
academic and athletics perspective while gaining the additional year to develop
and mature personally. In either scenario, it is paramount that junior golf
families create a plan that is best suited to maximize their development and
always be conscious of and understand the NCAA Initial Eligibility Requirements.
Road to College Golf