Central Michigan University Coach ryan Williams on the value of camps

What do you prefer about camps vs. tournaments in terms of learning more about a player and why they might make a good recruit?

Camps offer a really unique situation or a unique environment for coaches to be able to interact with players, while also watching them play and hit shots, and assessing their skill set. At the same time as we’re assessing them, we can also get a really good feel for their personality, attitude and motivation. So, it’s really nice – we don’t necessarily get to do that when we’re out watching golf tournaments.

In a camp like CGX, you give a lot to the kids in terms of personal training and expert advice. But what do you get out of the experience that supports your recruiting goals?

We get to look at a snapshot of the type of players who are interested in us and schools like us. We get to see each of these kids is good at, what they might need to work on, and what skill sets will translate to being ready to play college golf at this level versus what might not be there. And then there’s the personal piece, as well. I’m getting to tell whether each kid is going to fit in with our team and program.

Do you feel like camps now play a bigger role than ever in recruiting players?

They definitely can play a bigger role, and I think it’s dependent on a coach and his or her preferences for recruiting and recruits. It’s a really good idea for some recruits to or for any kid to attend a camp like this because you get to choose a subset of schools that you’re interested in, and maybe attend a camp or showcase and see what the coach is all about. My feedback from the kids who attended our camp was that they were really eager to see my coaching style, to see my personality, and to get a feel for what practicing under me looks like. I really do think that it’s a game-changer. And I think that more student-athletes can benefit from this experience, as well.

What’s an ideal balance between going to camps like CGX and playing tournaments if a player and their parents really want to find the right fit?

It’s extremely important to still play in tournaments and post competitive tournament round scores. That’s still a necessary piece of the recruiting process for us. It’s not like you can put all your eggs in one basket and just go to a bunch of camps. We’re going to still want to see how you play in tournaments, and want to see a number of different tournaments so we have more data. The more tournament rounds we get to look at, the more we feel like we can rely on what we’re seeing from your scoring average and your scoring differential and all of that.

So, it’s still vitally important to play tournaments, but I think there’s probably something to be said about taking weeks off from competing and maybe fill in those with a few different camps that are of interest to a recruit. For us, it’s important to find kids who are looking for us as well, and it’s not always easy. I think camps bridge the gap between the communication. For kids, it’s important to test the waters and see a lot of different types of schools, see how they fit in there, and have conversations. Camps really just marry those two pieces.

Beyond measurable golf skills, what attributes do you look for in a good candidate for your team?

Good personality, good attitude, and these things that you can pick up on from the interactions. I can tell what a kid is like by watching them interact with the kids around them at camp and interact with their parents. It’s important for us to get kids with really good attitudes who are personable, and who are going to fit in here. The academic piece is also really important – not that you necessarily get that out of a camp. But in my messaging in the camps, seminar, and recruiting portion, we talk a lot about academics. We talk about a lot of the opportunities that academics can open up for players and I think that they’ll see that we want to see kids who are engaged who want to be here, who ask questions during our coaching sessions and our seminars that are good, thoughtful questions and not necessarily just kind of checking the box to ask it. Show me you’re actually paying attention to what I’m saying and ask questions about that.

Do you think camps will play an increasing role in golf recruiting in the future?

I do think they will because coaches are looking to find ways to really get to know kids in the recruiting process, and camps uniquely offer that. In the recruiting landscape today and in NCAA sports today, it’s more important to develop personal relationships with recruits and with their parents, and also have them get to know you personally. And through that process, it starts to build loyalty and a relationship that’s going to last. With the transfer portal and NIL and everything that goes on with all the opportunities that are out there. Coaches are looking to develop their niche recruiting markets, their niche type of kids that they’re looking to get, and the ones who come to a program and are successful in that environment. You can’t see that necessarily in a tournament recruiting setting or necessarily a one-on-one campus visit either, but I think camps offer that unique environment to be able to do those things.

What would you tell a fellow college golf coach about whether going to a CGX Camp is a good investment of their time or a habit they should be into doing regularly?

I would tell everyone and anyone who can get involved in camps like this to do so. It’s well worth your time. It’s well worth the effort to get to see some kids in your recruiting market and see the type of interest that you might have outside of what you really think your market is. CGX helps connect you with players who might be interested in you that you never would have thought, and those things are huge and a really huge benefit that we get out of it. It helps you redevelop your recruiting efforts, giving you context to the kids that you’re talking to and kids that might not be there, versus kids that are there. And you see how they practice, how they plan, how they’re developing, and it’s an extra set of variable details that you can get out of kids. And it’s honestly a fun day or two. CGX really supports running the camp so it’s not a huge burden marketing the camp and everything. It will open up more recruiting opportunities for all coaches who decide to do it.

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