College Practice Schedule and Routine
I still remember the days when I played junior golf in South Africa like it was yesterday. I was about 14 years old when I decided that my dream was to play collegiate golf in the United States.
I was a young kid with big dreams from a small town in South Africa. With some help and a lot of hard work my dreams became reality and I committed to play golf at The University of Texas at Austin starting in the Fall of 2011.
I was in a fortunate position and I received scholarship offers from multiple different universities, but I decided to become a Longhorn and it was one of the best decisions that I ever made.
Being a college student athlete is no easy task, but the reward outweighs the hardship that comes with it. Being a student athlete is about more than just participating in your college sport, it teaches discipline, time management, commitment, respect.. the list goes on and on.
But at the end of the journey being a student athlete prepares you for life after college, the relationships you forge last a lifetime and they help define who you are as an individual.
During my 4 years at UT I made lifelong friends, I met some extraordinary people that have taught me about life and how to deal with what it throws your way.
I played the sport that I love, I got a world class education and it helped me with reaching another one of my lifelong dreams which was to play golf professionally.
Don’t get me wrong playing collegiate golf isn’t always fun and easy, but it is worth it at the end of the day. My advice to all aspiring high school golfers would definitely be to pursue playing golf collegiately, it’s not for everyone, but you won’t know unless you try.
Getting a scholarship and getting onto a college golf team is no easy task, but with the correct mindset, work ethic and desire it can definitely be achieved. Given my experience anything is possible if you are willing to put in the work.
What It’s Like To Be a Student Athlete / College Golfer
Being a student athlete is almost like having a full time job, the work never stops. Between classes, practice, tournaments and the odd night out there is hardly time to stop and take a breath.
The fall tournament season runs from August – November and the Spring events start back up in February with Nationals the last week of May/1st week of June.
During the season teams will normally play 8 regular season events followed by 3 post season events if you make it all the way through to Nationals.
The tournament schedule of a collegiate golfer is busy, and the practice schedule is even more intense, this is what a typical day use to look like for me during the season.
- 5:45 am – Wake-up
- 6:15 – 7:30 – Gym Workout
- 8:00 – 12:00 – Classes
- 12:00 – 1:00 pm – Lunch
- 1:30 – 5:00 – Practice or play
- 6:00 – Dinner
- 7:00 – Studying
- 10:00 Bedtime
This is basically how a typical day at Texas use to look like for me. Some were busier than others but there was almost always something that you had to rush to, to get to on time.
Between tournaments, practice was important but majority of coaches have qualifying in order to determine the team that would travel to the next event.
In college there is hardly ever a break from competition, at home you compete for your spot in order to go and compete.
Competitive players thrive under these circumstances, and a competitive environment is also vital if you are dreaming about joining the professional ranks after college.
Before I became a Longhorn working out was something that hardly ever crossed my mind.
Golf can be tough on your body and with the way that the modern game is progressing it is essential to spend time on your overall fitness and strength.
Being strong, fit and flexible won’t just be good for your golf, it will also limit injuries and ensure that your body stays healthy for the duration of the season.
Professional golfers all spend a lot of time on their fitness and on becoming better athletes, college is the perfect time to get into a good fitness routine, and to also learn more about your body and the weaknesses/tendencies that it has.
The NCAA has some very strict rules and regulations regarding academic eligibility.
If you want to get onto the plane or bus to the next event you have to make sure that your grades are up to standard.
Athletic academic departments are packed with resources and counselors that will guide you along your academic journey, these people are there to help you, make use of their services and expertise.
At this point of the journey it might seem like there is no time for fun and for being a regular student. As a student athlete you have certain responsibilities, but there is time to enjoy college life.
It is very important to balance out golf, classes and tournament play with a bit of fun.
At Texas going to football games was normally the highlight of the Fall season and Austin had a lot of other fun things to do as well.
As a high school student, 4 years seems like a lot of time, but it goes by in a heartbeat so make sure that you enjoy every moment, both the good and the bad.
Resource: High School Golf Practice Plan
How to Practice Like a College Golfer
If you are planning on playing college golf I would recommend that you start adopting a similar practice schedule to the one that you would have to follow in college.
Not only will this improve your golf during your high school years, but it will also ensure a smooth transition over to college golf.
I have seen this first hand as a professional golfer, golf is all about getting the ball in the hole. Short game practice is key if you want to take your golf game to the next level.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to spend 70% of your practice time doing short game (125 yards and in) and 30% on your long game. Your long game won’t suffer at all, if you hit a 100 yard wedge shot you are still making a full swing.
In addition to spending your time wisely it is just as important to practice constructively. You will see very soon that golf isn’t about having the best looking swing, it is about getting the job done.
Play as much as you can, there is no better practice than playing out on the course.
In college you will be forced to play a lot in order to qualify for the traveling team, make sure that you get into the habit of playing and competing against your friends before you head off to college.
Fitness is very important if you are planning on playing golf at a high level, make sure to add a fitness routine to your practice schedule.
As a high school golfer you shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights, but going for a 30 minute run a few times a week along with doing some stretching will limit injuries and it will prepare you for a more rigorous fitness regime in college.
In college an average practice session lasted about 3 hours and we normally practiced 6 days a week. A good weekly practice schedule that simulates the college setup will resemble something similar to this:
|30 minutes fitness||30 minutes fitness||30 minutes fitness||OFF|
|1 hour putting practice||30 minute putting or chipping practice||1 hour putting practice||30 minute putting or chipping practice||1 hour putting practice||1 hour putting practice||OFF|
|1 hour chipping and pitching practice||Warm up||1 hour chipping and pitching practice||Warm up||1 hour chipping and pitching practice||1 hour chipping and wedge practice + warm up||OFF|
|30 minute long game practice||Play 9/18 holes||30 minute long game practice||Play 9/18 holes||30 minute long game practice||Play 9/18 holes||OFF|
This college golf schedule is a good guideline as to how to practice but simply following it won’t guarantee success.
It is important to spend your college golf practice time wisely and to practice in a manner where quality exceeds quantity.
At the end of the day an hour of quality practice will be way more beneficial that 3 hours of quantity practice.
College Practice Drills to Ensure Quality Golf Practice
- If you want to succeed as a college or professional golfer you have to have a competitive streak in you. Putting or chipping practice is way more fun and constructive if you play a quick 9 hole match against a friend. Try to play against someone that is better than you, this will help you lift your game. At Texas I saw how competitive practice lifted the men’s team to a National Championship in 2012. Major winner Jordan Spieth, PGA Tour winner Cody Gribble and European Tour winner Dylan Frittelli where all on that team. These guys use to have putting contests almost everyday until it was too dark to see the holes on the putting green.
Putting drills for College golf
- Speed is very important in order to improve your putting. A good drill that will improve your speed is the Ladder speed drill. Choose 2 holes on the practice green that are about 40 feet away from each other, take 2 clubs and place them about 2 or 3 feet behind each hole respectively. Stick a tee into the ground between the holes about 6 feet away from either hole. From the tee putt 3 balls to both holes respectively. The goal is to hit 6 putts that end up past the holes but not past the club behind the hole. Once you achieve the goal from the first position move the tee 3 feet toward the hole that was furthest away. The goal is to keep on going until you are 6 feet away from the opposite hole.
Short game drills for college golf
- Hitting a good chip shot during a practice session is a lot easier than actually doing it while you are playing a competitive round. In order to close this gap in consistency it is important to simulate playing during your practice sessions. Playing 9 par 2 holes around the chipping green is a fun way to do just that. Take 1 ball and hit 9 different chip shots around the green, putt out every putt just like you would during a round. The goal is to finish in 21 shots or less. Keep track of your best score and try to beat that score every time that you do this drill.
Long game golf drills
- Bashing golf balls on the range is not only exhausting, but it is also counterproductive. When you do spend time on the range make sure that it is quality time. Being able to hit different shot shapes is important if you want to take your game to the next level. A good drill to do on the range is to hit different shot variations. These include, high shots, low shots, high cuts, low cuts, high draws and low draws. Choose a target and try to end your ball on the target by hitting different types of shots to achieve the same result.
Remember the Journey
In a recent interview Clemson men’s head football coach Dabo Swinney described it best.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to make it from high school golfer to college golfer or from college to professional golfer, what you remember is the journey and not when you reach your ultimate goal.
As you work towards becoming a college or professional golfer remember the journey, the people you meet along the way, the relationships you forge, the good and the bad times, the failures and the success, the hours that go into it, remember the journey.
Your goals and dreams don’t always play out the way you want them to, but if you remember and embrace the journey the end result won’t matter.
Thanks for reading, – Bertine