Can’t Make Varsity? Guide to Starting a Club Golf Team

*This series of articles was published the summer of 2013 at the beginning of Nextgengolf. The NCCGA (National Collegiate Club Golf Association) now hosts tournaments for more than 300 club golf teams across the country. Learn more here.

As a California native, coming over to New England for college required a lot of getting used to. The hardest thing to adjust to was not having year round golf, and no more free golf at Pebble Beach, a perk that I came to really enjoy being on the varsity team. But ever since I can remember, I always had my eyes set on going to college in New England.

When I decided on Holy Cross, their NCAA D-1 golf team was an eye-catcher. An even bigger plus was the fact that they were not in a very strong league, the Patriont League, which can’t boast sending three of their players to the U.S Open like Berkeley can.

I was a decent golfer in high school, with a 3.6 handicap, but didn’t feel like I was quite D-1 material. But when I looked at players’ stats in the Patriot League, I matched up quite well. And that’s when I decided to try and walk on. It was a fun yet grueling 72 hole tryout over four days. Two of the rounds were played at Heritage Country Club and the other two at Holden Hills.


The first three rounds were the ‘fun’ part. Finishing day one with a 76, I was in solo second with several guys all within a few strokes. Day two I fired a 74 and wound up tied for 1st. I shot a third round 74 and felt as though I was in total control in solo lead. Even the coach appeared to believe I was a shoe-in. But it was that 4th day that was so grueling.

Never did I expect New England weather to make a turn for the worst. The first 3 rounds were shorts and polo kind of days. That final day was a raincoat, rain pants, rain gloves, 68 inch umbrella,etc. kind of day. It poured for at least six hours straight. Me? Well my naive self failed to check my weather app (trust me, I’ve learned from that mistake). Much like the previous three days, I went out in shorts and a polo.

After three straight rounds in the 70’s, I ended up on the final day with a horrific 86, dropping myself out of the lead to 6th place. And just my luck, the top 5 made it onto the team. Worst, I missed the cut by a single stroke. It was upsetting to report back to friends at the cafeteria that night that I didn’t make the team. A lot of them even thought I was lying since I had done so well up until this point.

All was not lost however. One year later, after adjusting to the academic life of college (I won’t tell you how poorly I did freshman year), I decided I wanted to pick up golf again. Astounded by the fact that the school didn’t have a recreational team, a few hackers and I went on to form the very first Club Golf team at Holy Cross.

Learn more about starting a club golf team

It was a tough endeavor that took up what remaining free time I had between studying for International Relations exams and munching on Ramen noodles while writing papers on why China’s political economy was so strong. Generating interest among the campus population was easy as pie. A few mass emails and a booth set up at the student center did more than suffice. In fact, our first general meeting, we were expecting maybe around 30-40 show ups. We ended up getting more than 80 students in a single room that was set up for 40. People were poking their heads from outside the doors to hear what was going on with club golf.

The difficulty was working with the Student Government and drafting a constitution. Most of it was filling out a lot of paperwork and meeting with them to go over agendas. But eventually, we were granted a generous budget for recreational golf!

Read the second part of my story on how I grew the Holy Cross Club into something special and how you can learn from my experience to start or improve the club team on your campus this fall!

**Harry Chiu is a former NCCGA participant and founder of the Holy Cross Club Golf team. Contact him on Twitter @golferboyhc