Alternatives to playing college golf

Written By: Travis Richardson | @travis_richson

Not everyone can play varsity golf in college. It's simply the truth, and is true in every sport, but the odds are especially staggering in golf. According to Scholarship Stats, an estimated 224,800 high school students play golf, and there's about 19,000 varsity spots available in college. That means less than 9% of high school golfers will play in college.

That stat doesn't even differentiate between Division 1, 2, 3 NAIA, etc. Less than 9% of high school golfers will play in college at ANY level. If you narrow it down to Division 1, the odds shrink to 2.3%. This percentage seems to shrink every week as more colleges are cutting varsity golf due to budgetary concerns (6 so far in 2016).

Some of the students mentioned above won't play varsity in college by choice. Either because they don't get an offer from their dream school, or they have other aspirations that don't include continuing to play varsity golf.

So for all the students that aren't playing varsity in college (whether by choice or not), here are viable alternatives to playing college golf at the varsity level.

South Carolina leads the NCCGA National Championship

The South Carolina club golf team won the Spring 2016 NCCGA National Championship.

1) Club Golf

The top alternative to playing college golf at the varsity level is to join the school's club golf team. Club golf combines the best of both worlds: it provides a team atmosphere and competitive golf tournaments, while requiring much less time and effort than being on varsity. There's no mandatory practices, long absences from school to attend tournaments, academic requirements, or coaches watching your every move.

The NCCGA hosts two regionals tournaments per season for club golf teams, and a National Championship for the top teams in reach region. And if your school doesn't already have a club team the process to start one is simple, with some clubs needing less than 2 weeks to become official and ready to compete.

Playing club golf can also provide students a chance to get noticed by the varsity team. The journey to playing varsity doesn't have to end just because you aren't recruited out of high school. Several former NCCGA players have gone on to play varsity.

Which schools have club golf teams?

2) Intramural Golf

Intramural golf is another form of organized golf on a college campus. The main difference between intramural golf and club golf? Competition. Intramural golf typically holds one tournament a season, featuring just students on campus. Club sports are competition between several schools in the area. Intramural golf is a good fit for the recreational golfer looking to just have some fun.

3) Local Golf Leagues

There are bound to be plenty of golf courses near your campus. Go check them out and see if they offer a golf league during the semester. It might be once or twice a week, and the schedule might not exactly mesh with your school schedule. The clientele at golf courses typically skews older, so many leagues play on weekday mornings. But if the schedule works it can be a nice way to play competitively.

Golf Friends nextgengolf summer tour

Reuniting with high school friends can be done at summer golf events

4) Summer Tournaments

We understand that some students will put their clubs away for the school year, choosing instead to focus on academics or other extracurriculars. This means the competitive void can be filled during the summer time. There's local qualifiers, charity tournaments, Golf Channel Am Tour, the Nextgengolf City Tour, and plenty of others. Find the best tournament for your style of play. If you want individual stroke play, the Golf Channel Am Tour is probably the best fit. If you instead want to play with your buddies in scramble or best-ball, the Nextgengolf City Tour is a great option. There's endless options depending on preference.

The important point to consider when evaluating these alternatives to playing college golf at the varsity level, is that your golf career is far from over. Thousands of students every year make the decision to play club golf, and many walk away loving the opportunity and freedom it provides. Find the best alternative for you, and enjoy the college life.