Player rankings and college recruiting report

For any player looking to play golf in college, the recruiting process can be confusing at times. Some of the usual comments we hear are, “why was that player offered a scholarship and not me?, . . I have a better scoring average than that player and they are going to (blank) college. . . I routinely beat that player in high school golf but they have several coaches watching them” and the list goes on. Many times the reason a coach is not following a player is because the coach does not know much about them, or doesn't know who they are. This means that being noticed and followed by college coaches is the first step to being recruited.

How does one get noticed by college coaches? One of the first places a college coach will go to begin forming a list of recruits is the Junior Golf Scoreboard Ranking website. This website breaks down the rankings of every player in the country that has competed in at least four ranked events in the past 12 months, and further breaks the rankings down by state and graduation year. These state rankings are where many NCAA coaches will begin their research and being at the top of that list in your state, and/or your graduation year can be the difference between making that coach's list or not. (Remember this is just a starting point for recruiting and doesn’t mean everything, but many times a player’s final scholarship offers or whether a spot on the team is offered can be justified by where they are in the rankings)

How does a player become ranked? A player can become ranked by playing in at least four Junior Golf Scoreboard-ranked events over a 12-month period. These events are usually indicated that they are ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard, and can also be found on the Junior Golf Scoreboard website under the “Search For Tournaments” section at Juniorgolfscoreboard.com.

How is the ranking computed? A player’s ranking is based on three criteria: scoring differential, strength of field and finish percentage. All make up the different factors that go into a player's ranking. Please see the explanation at the end of this column to see an explanation directly from their website.

What determines a high ranking? The biggest factor in a player’s ranking is shooting low scores to the course’s USGA Rating. This means a player has to compete in tournaments where the course has a high course rating and the tournament must be played from a longer distance. (Shortening a course’s distance will directly lower the course rating used for the Junior Golf Scoreboard, which will hurt your ranking)

The second biggest factor is competing in tournaments with strong competition. This means playing in regional or national level tournaments where lots of players are ranked highly which make the strength of competition high, which will directly raise your ranking.

The third biggest factor is finishing high in the tournament. This one takes care of itself if you shoot the low scores talked about in the first factor!

Do the tournaments I decide to play in affect my ranking? The answer to this question is, yes. Take for example two players. Player A competes in local tournament from short tees and shoots low scores. Player B competes in Regional and National tournaments from long tees and shoots average scores. Player A will have a hard time being ranked highly because the short tees and local tournaments they compete in will have very low USGA course ratings. This means the scoring differential will be higher which hurts the first factor. The local tournaments also have a low strength of field. This will hurt the second factor, and even though that player may win several times and finish high, the Finish Percentage isn’t a big enough factor to help much.

Player B on the other hand, is shooting average scores on much longer and tougher courses. This means the USGA course rating will be high, and make the scoring differential lower. The Regional and National level tournaments will also have a high strength of competition which helps their second factor. Finally, even though they may be finishing in the middle of the field, the Finish Percentage isn’t a big enough factor to hurt their rankings.

This is how two very similar players, can affect their rankings by which tournaments they choose to play in.

Conclusion – A player should always try to play in the highest level competition they can on the highest course ratings they feel comfortable on. This will give the player the best chance of affecting their ranking by having a low Scoring Differential and a strong Strength of Field. These are the two most important factors in a player’s ranking and will improve their ranking considerably. The GolfWeek Junior Tour offers the highest strength of field events in the Midwest for events that do not require a resume or exemption to get in. All of the higher strength of field events require exemptions, a resume, or a qualifier. We also offer very playable course set-ups on high USGA course ratings. This helps players lower their scoring differential factor for their rankings and will elevate their position in the rankings.

Explanation of the Junior Golf Scoreboard ranking system quoted directly from Juniorgolfscoreboard.com

• Individual Scoring… For the 75 % of the player’s lowest scoring differentials, this is simply the average difference of their score compared to the USGA rating of the courses they played in their tournaments. In other words how well does this player score when playing in tournaments. This criteria counts for 65% of a player's ranking calculation.

• Strength of Field… The number displayed here is the result of our proprietary ranking formula that determines a score for all the tournaments played by this individual. Again, simply put, a lower number means they played against stronger players and the closer two players' strength numbers are, the more similar the competitiveness of their tournaments. This criteria counts for 25% of a player's ranking calculation.

• Strength of Finish… This table displays the finishes for the player. Finishes count 10% in the ranking computation and their value is computed based on the number of players in the field and the strength of tournament. Results in the rankings table are displayed as follows; If you win an overall combined age group competition or if you win an age group not part of an overall competition, you get credit for a win. (Winning an age group that is part of an overall competition does not qualify for a win). If there are 10 or more players who finish in your age group and you finish 2nd thru 5th for that tournament, you receive credit in the Top 5 column. If there are 20 or more players who finish in your age group and you finish 6th thru 10th for that tournament, you receive credit in the Top 10 column. You only receive one credit in these columns per tournament played in. (These finish credits are different than what you see on the professional tours due to the fluctuating field sizes in junior golf.)