There’s a place in college golf for anyone who wants one.
That was the theme Tuesday night at Valencia CC, where SCGA Youth on Course hosted a College Golf Summit for more than 80 juniors golfers and their parents. The event is intended to help those interested in pursuing collegiate golf help navigate that road with assistance from coaches, former players, and advisors. Joining the group Tuesday was Mental Game Coach and former Division I Golfer Rick Sessingahus, former USC men’s and women’s coach Ted Gleason and current UCLA Men’s Head Golf Coach Derek Freeman, who each spoke to the group in detail about their experiences.
Beginning the night was Gleason, who stressed to everyone in the room that they can play college golf if they really want to. Division I isn’t for everyone, but Division II and III as well as JC options are viable for those who either want to stress academics or don’t have the golf ability to compete with the top 5 percent.
“The most important thing is to do your research,” said Gleason. “Kids, that means you, not your parents. Follow college golf, attend a tournament and do research online. That’s how you’ll find the school that fits your ability, wants and needs.”
Touted by all three guest speakers as the best resource for online research was the Ping American College Golf Guide, which was given digitally to each participant who attended the event. More about the guide can be found at collegegolf.com.
Speaking at a Youth on Course event for the first time, UCLA Coach Derek Freeman was greeted with a warm round of applause. Freeman started by explaining the rigorous schedule his UCLA team experiences on a week-to-week basis, which includes yoga, workouts, golf practice, tutoring, mentoring, and oh yeah, class.
Freeman also stressed the importance of how a kid acts during the recruitment process, but also during their junior golf experiences.
“I watch it all when I’m recruiting,” said Freeman. “How does the kid talk to his parents, how does he treat volunteers and officials, does he know the Rules? I look at all of those things because someone on my team is going to represent the University the right way. But of course to play for UCLA, at the end of the day the grades have to be there and you have to be able to shoot the golf scores.”
Last but not least, the group heard from Sessinghaus, who captivated the audience with tales of his own road to college golf, which included a few bumps along the way. Sessinghaus attempted to walk onto a college team as a freshman, but was let down by his mental game in a pressure-filled final round. He would eventually make the team a year later, but the experience changed his life, which has since been devoted to studying and teaching the mental side of golf.
“We all know the mental side of golf is important, but when’s the last time we trained it?” Sessinghaus asked. “Developing mental and emotional skills, being aware of how you practice, and building confidence are all keys to becoming a stronger golfer.”
For an example, Sessinghause has some of his clients put together a confidence resume, which consists of a list of each club in the bag, and the best shot his client has ever hit with them. It’s a great go-to when you pull that club out during a tournament round, and need to recall a good memory.
SCGA Youth on Course College Golf Summits are open to the public, and cost just $10. The next one will be held Tuesday, Feb. 25 at The Professional Golfers Career College in Temecula. Registration can be found here.