“Their 5:30am workouts paid off on the course today,” was the compliment from the Cal State-Monterey Bay (NCAA D-II) athletic director April 20th after his men’s golf team secured a one-shot victory in driving rain for their first-ever California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship defeating teams (Sonoma State and Cal State-San Bernardino) that finished first and second at the 2009 NCAA D-II National Championship.
Many high school golfers and their parents are surprised to learn about morning workouts and the rigors of competitive college golf for men and women. NCAA rules state that a sport cannot take more than 20 hours per week of a student-athlete’s time, but anyone playing D-I or D-II athletics can report that is fuzzy math. And the time commitment for golf might be highest for any sport.
Part of the college experience is learning to balance time - usually between academics, social life and extracurricular activities that may include athletics. Frequently the result is - the higher the level of intercollegiate competition, the greater the demand from the sport.
In 2005 I contributed to an award-winning article for “Golf Digest Magazine”, and one of my fellow writers, Caroline Stetler, noted her mandatory 6am workouts when she played at Wake Forest University. She also compared requirements at a D-I program to a less demanding commitment to golf at a D-III school.
Caroline’s D-I example was the men’s team at University of Southern California with 5:30am wake up, workouts at dawn or teeing off at 6:30am before club members. Afternoon classes were the norm at USC with evening study time.
Morning workouts are typical at D-I schools, then morning classes and get to the golf course after lunch. With afternoon golf, evening study time can shrink when the sun sets later in the day.
Caroline’s contrast to Southern Cal was the men’s team at D-III Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. Academics definitely came first at Williams with players arranging late-afternoon tee times via email (not much texting in 2005) for nine holes of practice - time permitting.
Prospective student-athletes should be aware of the mental commitment that goes with the time and physical effort required at very competitive golf programs. Players with the game and desire to work hard have a better chance for success. Being good friends with their alarm clock can help too!