Which tournaments should I play in?

Playing tournaments is not just a great way to become a better player, it’s also the best way to increase your “stock” in the eyes of college golf coaches. The truth is, coaches don’t really care what you shoot in practice rounds or even what your handicap is…they want to see tournament results!

Playing tournaments might seem like an obvious prerequisite for college golf, but which tournaments you play in can be very important. Not all tournaments are the same so make sure the events you register for align with your collegiate golfing goals.


There are four main categories for tournament organizations…

  • Local/State/Regional Junior Tours
  • State Golf Associations – open to all amateurs
  • National Junior Tours – AJGA, IGJT, etc.
  • National Invitationals – USGA Championships, Junior World, etc.

Generally speaking, this list is in order of importance/significance when it comes to how college coaches will evaluate scores in such events. In other words, a round of even par in a local junior tournament carries less weight than the same score at the US Junior Amateur.

That said, there is a place for tournaments at every level. For instance, smaller tournaments can help you build confidence and teach you how to win. National tournaments, on the other hand, show coaches where you stack up against the best players in the nation.

Top programs usually concentrate recruiting efforts on national and invitational events, but that doesn’t mean that local events are meaningless to them. Just find a good balance that aligns with your ability and budget and let your scores do the talking.


This might be obvious, but golf in Northern California is much different than the golf in Arizona…which is vastly different than the golf in Texas or Florida. Coaches know this, and since most programs will play tournaments in different states, coaches want to make sure that your game travels well before putting you on their team. Part of this is to see how you play “on the road”, but they’re also curious how you play in different climates and on different types of courses. Here are a few things to consider when you’re deciding where to play…

  • Play in a variety of states/climates
  • Schedule tournaments near campuses you want to visit
  • Ask coaches which tournaments they will be at and sign up accordingly
  • College setups are usually 7,200 yards plus, so coaches want to see you play longer courses

There is never a “bad” time to post tournament scores. College coaches like players who are eager to compete so play as many tournaments as possible!

Coaches can evaluate players year-round but usually do most of their tournament evaluations in the summer months. The only times that coaches are not allowed to evaluate at tournaments are during quiet or dead periods. This does not mean you shouldn’t play tournaments over these dates, just don’t expect a coach to show up and watch.

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