Harvard Men's Golf Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents 

What is Harvard golf all about?

We hope you will take some time to review our Mission Statement, which outlines our core philosophy.

To understand the Harvard golf program, it is helpful to know the philosophies of the institutions that shape us -- the Ivy League and the Harvard Department of Athletics. 

What is the Ivy League?

It is well known that Ivy League schools have highly selective admissions processes and outstanding academics. Less well known is the fact that athletics plays a primary role in the educational experience at Ivy League institutions.  Member schools subscribe to a unique view of athletics as an extension of the educational experience that provides student-athletes an optimal level of balance and development.  At the core of this viewpoint is that student-athletes will be ‘representative of the student body’. 

Visit the Ivy League's official website for more information.

Why is the recruiting process different for Harvard / Ivy League colleges and ‘scholarship schools’?

The following link provides information on the Ivy League Admissions and Financial Aid process.  Reviewing the information therein will help you get a better sense of the recruiting approach expected of coaches within the Ivy League.

How does Harvard Golf fit within the Department of Harvard Athletics?

The mission of the Harvard Department of Athletics is based upon “education through athletics”.  For our team members to have the best educational experience possible, they will strive to be their best in the classroom and on the golf course.  Balancing these commitments while seeking excellence are conditions that help team members achieve the maximum benefit from the unique opportunity of competing in a varsity Division I sport. 

Will the Harvard Department of Athletics support my desire for athletic success?

The depth and breadth of the Harvard Department of Athletics is a surprise to most people.  We encourage you to take the time to learn more via www.gocrimson.com

Harvard has the largest number of varsity sports of any college in the country and the most student athletes participating at the varsity level. 

From a competitiveness perspective, we first measure ourselves with the Ivy League framework.  We are proud that Harvard teams traditionally win more than 30% of the Ivy League championships contested each academic year.  Beyond the Ivy League, many Harvard teams compete at the national level, garner rankings in the top 20 and win national championships.

At the individual level, Harvard is consistently well-represented at the Olympics and in professional sports.  We will similarly support you in your pursuit of excellence.  As with everything at Harvard, the resources are available to be ‘world-class’ in your chosen field.  It is up to you to utilize these resources.


What is your recruiting philosophy?

We sincerely want you to:

●     attend the school you most want to attend whether that is Harvard or any other school. 

●     make an informed decision about which college you most want to attend. 

●     pursue your dreams and hope we can support those dreams along the way.

We will not ‘sell’ you on Harvard or try to convince you that Harvard is the best school for you.  If you are interested in Harvard as a potential option for your college education, we will be happy to provide you information to further your analysis and try to help you make the best decision for you.

If you decide that Harvard is the best school for you, we will provide honest feedback on your qualifications and, when appropriate, work with you to try to make admission a reality. 

Can a prospect's candidacy for the golf team increase the chances of gaining admission?

We will support golf team prospects’ applications for admission as appropriate. Support from a trusted and reliable source can make a significant impact on admissions decisions.  However, since coaches are not admissions officers and do not make admissions decisions, we cannot and will not guarantee admission to anyone.

The amount of support we can provide and the number of candidates we are able to actively support is limited. Our support for a prospect is generally based upon their:

●     likelihood of admission;

●     ability to help our team achieve our Vision; and

●     desire to put in the effort needed to be the best college golfer they can be.

What grade point average and SAT/ACT scores do I need to be considered for admission to Harvard?

The answer is complex.  The quantitative components of an applicant's academic performance are only one part of a broad picture that is considered when the admissions department reviews applications. For more information on Harvard admissions requirements, visit the Harvard website.

Harvard is one of the most respected and selective colleges in the world. Accordingly, Harvard maintains the highest standards for admission. The Harvard Admissions office has the expertise and experience to evaluate candidates holistically.  We are proud that our team members are representative of the Harvard student body. 

For our initial evaluation of golf prospects we typically look for individual SAT I & II scores above 700 and/or ACT scores above 33. We would like to see grades above 3.80 (unweighted) on a 4.0 scale or the equivalent while taking a rigorous course load. There are many other considerations and other factors may be more important in individual evaluations.  Harvard Admissions cares deeply about personal qualities such as character, leadership and interpersonal skills.  It is not just about the numbers.

For more information on how standardized testing can help you maximize your options, please view our document on Test Prep FAQs.

What will make me a strong candidate for the Harvard golf team?

In order to achieve the vision we have established for our golf program, we need to continually attract and develop the best team members possible. As in the evaluation process for admission, there are many factors that affect an individual's ability to excel in our environment.  The three attributes that we reference most frequently are personal qualities, tournament history and desire. 

Personal qualities:  We are fortunate that our team has developed great culture and chemistry.  When positive team culture exist, magic can happen.  Our efforts to maintain a positive team culture are an important part of our recruiting process.  Accordingly, we need to get to know you before we consider providing our highest level of support in the admissions process.  We want our top prospects to spend time with the coaches and team members on an overnight campus visit.  Leadership, character, optimism, responsiveness and other personal qualities are assessed during our process.  We encourage you to be equally careful in your evaluation of the colleges you are considering.  You should confirm that the people at the school you choose to attend will inspire you to engage deeply and passionately in the classroom and on the golf course. 

Tournament history:  We are looking for a strong indication that you can score in the low-to-mid 70s in college tournaments.  Scores from state amateur tournaments, USGA, AJGA, or similar national tournaments are generally helpful as the fields are usually competitive and the events are often contested on course setups that approximate the college level.  High school tournaments, non-tournament rounds and handicaps are not necessarily indicative of college-level ability. 

Desire:  We believe that players can improve from high school to college with focus and effort.  The best performers in most fields are those with the highest levels of desire that fuels their work ethic.  Therefore, we need to learn how strongly prospective team members want to be the best collegiate golfer they can.  Measuring prospective team members’ desire is a difficult task.  As difficult as this can be, we place more emphasis on desire than junior tournament scores.

How does the Harvard golf team establish contact with potential team members?

We approach recruiting in a different manner than many other programs.  Our approach reflects our recruiting philosophy (above) as well as the competitive nature of the Harvard admission process.  We encourage prospective student athletes to make initial contact with us via email at the beginning of their junior year indicating interest in our program.  Prospects should direct all recruiting inquiries to hgolf@fas.harvard.edu.

Who should contact Harvard?

We expect the prospective student-athlete to lead the communication process.  Any prospect who is interested in the possibility of attending Harvard and playing golf should contact us.  Keep in mind that golf is a Division I sport at Harvard and requires significant desire and commitment.

Occasionally, parents, coaches, and scouting services will contact us on a prospect’s behalf.  While it is great to have people who are supporting, encouraging, and mentoring prospects throughout this process, we prefer to work directly with prospects for a number of reasons:

●     We want to get to know the prospect personally and we want the prospect to get to know us.

●     Outreach is a good opportunity for prospects to demonstrate initiative and self-advocacy.  These are two skills that show the level of maturity we like to see our prospective team members

●     Outreach by the student indicates that they are interested and deeply engaged.  Gaining admission to a selective school such as Harvard is far more likely to happen if the student demonstrates these qualities. 

How often should I expect to hear from Harvard once I establish contact?

Infrequently.  We do not make many phone calls to prospective student-athletes or bombard them with recruiting tactics. Instead, if we believe a prospect has the potential to help our golf program and has a good chance of gaining admission, we will let them know of our interest.  We will then work to help them identify the college that they most want to attend.  Contact is maintained on a regular basis with strong prospects.

New NCAA regulations allow us to call and text you as much as we like after the start of your junior year.  This is not our style.  We do not believe it is necessary or beneficial to be in constant communication with our prospects.  Rather, we prefer to check in with prospects periodically throughout the year when we have significant information to share.  We hope you will take the same approach.

We believe in an honest and transparent approach to recruiting.  Our goal is simple – that students attend the school they most want to attend.  We will let you know clearly and honestly where you stand.  If you have a question and want honest feedback, please ask.

Can we meet?

We receive hundreds of requests for in-person meetings each year.  To be efficient with our time and a prospect’s time we limit in-person meetings to those with prospects we believe are strong candidates for our program.  We meet with prospects who have established a strong academic fit (see above) and demonstrated the ability to help our golf team. For more information on requesting a meeting with the coaching staff, click here.

What can I do to have Harvard coaches see me play?  

Seeing a prospect in action on the golf course can be helpful for us in the evaluation process.  However, it is not a primary evaluation tool for us.  We rarely travel to tournaments outside of New England.

We encourage our strongest prospects to play in a tournament near Boston in the summer before their junior or senior year so we can combine an opportunity to see them play with an unofficial visit to campus.

Even while we are interested in attracting the best players in the country to play at Harvard, we don’t believe that extensive travel to tournaments is necessary or an efficient use of our time.  Following are a few of reasons for our limited recruiting travel: 

●     Watching players who have not expressed interest in Harvard and/or have not provided academic information is unlikely to be productive given the academic standards for admission to Harvard.

●     We cannot talk to prospects at tournaments to get to know their thoughts and internal reactions to how they are playing - we can only observe. 

●     Watching a couple of holes, or portions of 1 or 2 rounds, provides a feel for how someone moves, or how someone reacts to good or bad shots - on those given days.  But it's just a snapshot.  To judge a player in that short period of time is challenging at best and we don't believe that it is the most productive use of time.

Instead, we believe in evaluating a larger body of work as a student, golfer and person.  We look at grades, test scores, leadership roles and extra-curricular activities to determine a prospect’s potential fit with Harvard.  We evaluate your overall body of work as a golfer including long-term tournament results, length of time playing, practice routines, commitment to being the best you can be, etc.  Finally, we use the quality of correspondence, phone calls, and in-person visits over a period of time provide a better evaluation for both parties. 

All that being said, we know some prospects like to see coaches observing them at tournaments.  It feels good to receive attention, and we know that not attending tournaments can be misconstrued as a lack of interest.  We prefer a far more straightforward approach.  We will tell you where you stand.  If you are not sure, ask.  You can count on honest answers; always. 

Logistics of playing golf at Harvard:

When is the Harvard golf tournament season?

We have two distinct tournament golf seasons per academic year. Our fall season commences upon the students' return to school around September 1st. We typically compete in three or four fall tournaments in September and October. 

Upon returning from our spring break training trip, we compete in several tournaments including the Ivy League Championship. The winner of the Ivy League Championship receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals in May.

What practice facilities are available to team members?

We are fortunate that our home course for practice is The Country Club in Brookline - a course that is perennially ranked in the top 20 courses in the country and the site of several U.S. Opens, USGA events and the 1999 Ryder Cup. We practice at other areas courses occasionally, and have a relationship with TPC Boston as a primary practice facility.

On campus, team members have 24/7 access to our indoor practice facility.  We recently upgraded the facility to include a 2,500 square foot short game area for putting and chipping.  We have multiple indoor hitting bays and can facilitate detailed swing analysis with our Trackman.  We also have access to the bubble that is installed over the football stadium during the winter months for short and medium range wedge work.

What is the day-to-day Harvard Golf practice and tournament schedule?

Below is an outline of the program that all team members are expected to follow.  Individuals often develop additional practice routines based upon their goals and desire for improvement.

During non-tournament weeks we typically practice 5 or 6 days per week.  During tournament weeks we typically practice 3 days per week in addition to the tournament practice round and competition rounds.

To minimize missed class time we strive to compete in tournaments that are held on weekends.  For such tournaments we leave campus on Fridays and return on Sundays.

Per NCAA rules, one day per week must be free of athletic activities.  Historically we have utilized Mondays as our ‘off day’.

How do you determine which players go to each tournament?

Just as our team members must earn their membership, everyone must earn the privilege of representing the team and Harvard at tournaments.  College tournaments typically follow the “play five count four” format.  Almost all events are strokeplay, though we will occasionally play in match-play events. 

Given that we carry more than five players on our team, we have established a system of qualifying during practice to determine which players travel to tournaments.  Our system is a simple one -- we pre-designate 2-3 rounds that will count as “qualifying” and the five players with the lowest cumulative scores go to the upcoming tournament.  Every tournament has a separate “qualifier”, so every player has an equal opportunity to play his way into an event.

We believe this system is fair and allows us to bring the sharpest players to each tournament.  Most importantly, the qualifying process is objective.  There is no opportunity for favoritism and players always know what they need to do to qualify.

How do players keep their golf games in shape during the offseason?

There are three distinct periods of time that make up our ‘off season’ -- early November through mid-December, mid-December through the end of January, and February 1 to mid-March. 

Early November through mid-December:  Our fall tournament season typically concludes by the end of October.  Golfers in the Boston area are able to play and practice outdoors until approximately Thanksgiving; for Harvard that coincides with the start of "reading period and exams".  We hope that our team members will take a break from golf at some point during this 6-week period to help them re-charge their batteries in preparation for the winter and spring. 

Mid-December through the end of January:  When the first semester exams end in mid-to-late December our students are on winter break until the end of January.  Most team members play and practice extensively in warm climates during this time.  We also schedule our once-every-four-years international trips during this time.

February 1 through mid-March:  We start our formal indoor practice routine on the first day of February with TPI workouts three times per week, practice in the stadium bubble 2-3 times per week and extensive use of our indoor practice area. We take a 9-day training trip to warmer climates during our spring recess in mid-March. We are fortunate to have traveled to the following locations and courses on recent trips:

●     2019   Northern California including Monterey and San Francisco area courses

●     2018   Southern California including PGA West, La Quinta and Los Angeles area courses

●     2017   Southeast Florida including training at Every Ball Counts, PGA National, Bears Club and Seminole

●     2016   South Carolina including Colleton River, Long Cove and Berkeley Hall

●     2015   San Francisco and Monterey, Calif. (Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Spyglass, Monterey Peninsula CC, S.F. Golf Club, etc.)

●     2014   Southern California (La Quinta, PGA West, LA Country Club, Riviera)

If an individual wants to improve their game, we have everything necessary to accommodate that goal.

Do you have a golf fitness program?

We believe that golf-specific fitness training can help team members improve their game.  Our strength and conditioning staff implements the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) golf-specific workouts for our team.  The 25,000 square foot varsity strength and conditioning facility is available to the golf team at set times. The strength and conditioning staff works directly with the team during the workouts to make sure that team members are receiving the maximum benefit.

Since there are NCAA limits on the amount of hours that can be scheduled for practice we have decided to prioritize on-course practice time during the tournament seasons.  During the tournament season, team members who want to continue their golf fitness are able to arrange times to work directly with the strength and conditioning trainers. Similarly, in the off-season when coaches are not allowed to organize athletic activities, team members are able to arrange workout times directly with the staff at the varsity workout facility.

With what other colleges do you regularly compete?

The typical tournaments include 12 to 20 schools from the Northeast/New England area including Ivy League schools (Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Penn, Columbia, Cornell), Boston-area schools (Boston College, Boston University), Big East schools (Georgetown, Rutgers, St. John's, Connecticut) and other New England schools such as Rhode Island and Hartford. We are fortunate to have the resources to travel to out-of-region events each season to test our games against national competition.

What are some of the results from tournaments in which Harvard has competed?

Complete tournament-by-tournament results are available on Golfstat and GoCrimson.com. We have a long and storied history in our program, as Harvard was a strong regional and national power in golf through the 1970s. The results from the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s are not as impressive.  We are committed to returning the program to the prominence and excellence that is appropriate for Harvard.

We continue to strive to be the best program in the Northeast. The team scoring average and national ranking continues to improve with a steady progression in the past five years.  We earned back-to-back Ivy Championships in 2016 & 2017.  


Can I tryout for the team if I am admitted?

We believe in ‘athletics for all’.  For information on tryouts, click here.  Once a student is admitted to Harvard and shows an interest in trying out for the team we will work with them to determine the best approach for a positive experience.

I see that the Men’s and Women’s teams share a Head Coach.  How does that work?

We are fortunate to have Kevin Rhoads, Ivy League Coach of the Year (2016, 2017), at the helm of our golf teams serving as the Head Coach of Men's and Women's Golf.  Coach Rhoads is highly decorated as a teacher -- he is one of fewer than 350 golf professionals in the country who have earned the Master Professional designation, was the 2008 New England PGA Teacher of the year and, in 2010 was rated as one of the top 20 teaching professionals in the country under 40 years old by Golf Digest. Coach Rhoads also serves as the Teaching Professional at The Country Club. Given Coach Rhoads' dedication to the craft of teaching and comprehensive player development it is no surprise that both teams are thriving under his leadership.

Coach Rhoads travels to the majority of the both teams’ tournaments and is present at nearly every practice.  To support and supplement Coach Rhoads, we have two outstanding assistant coaches -- one each for the men’s and women’s teams.  These assistant coaches are always present at their respective team’s practices and competitions. The assistant coaches and the Director of Golf handle all non-coaching items so that Coach Rhoads can focus his time and efforts on team and player performance.

What does the Director of Golf do?  Why is he recruiting me instead of the Head Coach?

The Director of Golf role is a unique feature of our coaching structure.  Fred Schernecker ‘89 oversees the strategic and operational aspects of the program including fundraising, budgeting, and long-term planning, among other things. As a former student-athlete at Harvard who has enjoyed a successful business career, he is uniquely qualified to serve as an academic and career advisor to the team members and does so during four formal individual meetings each year with each team member along with many other interactions. Team members often cite Coach Schernecker as their best resource on campus and an instrumental figure in their experience as a student-athlete.

Prospects sometimes wonder why they are being recruited by the Director of Golf rather than the head coach.  We want Coach Rhoads and the assistant coaches to focus their efforts on current team members, making their experience on the golf course the best it can be.  And we believe our current structure and division of responsibilities enables us to do just that. We also believe that Coach Schernecker's role as the primary recruiter allows him to build a solid relationship with future team members that will continue through and after college.

For our top prospects, if there is a desire to interact with Coach Rhoads and/or the assistant coaches, we typically arrange that contact during on-campus visits and in the spring or summer of junior year.

Academic and Athletic Balance:

Will Harvard professors support me in the pursuit of my athletic passions?

Harvard admits students who have outstanding academic qualifications and aspirations.  Most of those students are also excellent in at least one other endeavor.  That ‘other endeavor’ is sports for the 15% of the student body that participates in varsity athletics.  Professors are accustomed to working with students who have passions outside of the classroom.  Most professors encourage and support students’ pursuits in the athletic arena.  That said, students are expected to do their part to make sure they are performing their best in the classroom.  People are far more likely to respect you if you show respect for them.

How do students manage their time between academic and golf team commitments?

For most students, a primary difference between high school and college is that no one is telling them where to go, what to do or when to do it.  They now control their own schedule.  The ability to learn how to prioritize and manage time is an important part of the learning process for Harvard students, especially Harvard student-athletes. The amount of time team members commit to golf is significant and requires discipline in order to perform well in the classroom and on the course. 

We often say that in order to achieve our goals, team members need to (1) get enough sleep; (2) stay on top of their schoolwork and (3) maximize their number of quality repetitions in the limited time we have.  All three of these success factors require strong time management. Developing planning skills and exercising the discipline to say ‘no’ to items that are not priorities, are integral parts of the Harvard learning experience that reward student-athletes for a lifetime. 

We work closely with team members -- especially freshmen -- to help schedule and manage their time.  Team members are supported by a network of advisors including freshman proctors, peer advising fellows, concentration advisors, resident deans, and an upper-class mentor within the team.

Over 1,000 of the nearly 7,000 undergraduate students at Harvard compete in intercollegiate athletics, proving every day that Harvard students can be successful in the classroom and in athletics.  Our golf team echoes that success as evidenced by our numerous Academic All American award winners and team grade point average consistently over 3.5.

Admissions and Financial Aid:

I am confused by the Early Action versus Early Decision process. Can you explain the difference and how applying early affects the chance of gaining admission?

Students who apply Early Decision and are admitted have a binding commitment to attend the school. Harvard utilizes the Early Action program, which restricts the applicant from applying to other Early Action or Early Decision programs but does not bind the student to attend. It is usually understood, however, that the student is applying early to their first choice. The chance of gaining admission can be increased by applying early depending upon many other factors including the size and quality of the early applicant pool and the recruiting situation of the sport involved. Students are encouraged to make this choice carefully.

The Harvard College Admissions site can answer many of your questions about the application and admission process.

I would really like to attend Harvard, but I have several offers for full scholarships. Can you provide any information that will help me with this decision?

Since Harvard applicants represent the "best and the brightest," they frequently have other opportunities available to them. Recruited athletes are often faced with this decision.

Harvard and other Ivy League institutions do not offer merit-based scholarships -- athletic or otherwise. Financial aid at Harvard is based strictly on need.

Harvard has an outstanding financial aid program that allows people from all financial backgrounds to attend. Harvard's financial aid initiative is quite impressive. Students whose families make less than $65,000 per year attend Harvard free of charge and students whose families earn up to $150,000 attend Harvard for up to 10% of their family income.

You are encouraged to review the following web page for more information on the Harvard Financial Aid program.  I also encourage you to spend a couple minutes filling out the simple financial aid calculator.  You may find that the financial aid package available at Harvard is better than the scholarship offers you are considering.