How do college golf scholarships work?

Athletic scholarships for college are some of the most talked about things among parents with student-athletes. Around every corner, you hear about someone’s kid getting a full ride for this school or jimmy is on a 50% ride there, or whatever the case may be. People tend to exaggerate and people easily catch FOMO.

So what is the truth? Can I actually earn an athletic scholarship for golf? What schools offer them and how does it work?

I am going to explain in depth just how college golf scholarships work so you can hopefully have some clarity regarding this and make the best decision for you.

At the fundamental level let's look at what schools are legally allowed to offer athletic scholarships for the sport of golf. NCAA D 1 NCAA D2 NAIA NJCAA all are allowed to offer athletic scholarships. Now the key word here is “allowed” for the sake of most of you, we will talk about NCAA D1 and NCAA D2. For the NCAA Men the golf team is allowed 4.5 scholarships. The women are allowed 6 scholarships.

For NCAA D2 there are 3.6 Mens scholarships allowed and 5.4 scholarships allowed for women. These #s are determined by the NCAA due to title 9 and making sure equal opportunity is awarded to athletes of all sports.

Now this may seem confusing right? How can there be an odd #? That is because the scholarships are broken up into $ amount and can be split up however the coach sees fit. So in D1 mens for example there are a total of 4.5 scholarships and the dollar amount of those are added up and split amongst the team.

Now back to what I referenced in the beginning, the key word “allowed”. Just because the coach is allowed to give out that much $ does not mean they have it to give out. Golf is a non revenue generating sport, that means the programs are going to need to be funded. This can come from the athletic foundation, the operating budget, and private donations. As you could imagine, the schools with larger athletic budgets and enrollments are going to have more $ available. Some smaller schools could be extremely well funded from supporters of the golf team; it just depends. So just because they are allowed a certain number of scholarships that does not mean they have that money to give out. It is going to vary from school to school depending on many different factors that make up the financial composition of the schools athletic budget and boosters.

As far as Division 3 golf, there are no athletic scholarships given out. At D3 schools there are things like aid packages and academic scholarships; it just depends on the school. NJCAA and NAIA are allowed to offer athletic scholarships; it is just going to heavily differ and depend on the school and the financial composition of the athletic department and the university itself.