Wide-eyed high schoolers and enthusiastic parents filed into the auditorium at the TGR Learning Lab for an educational afternoon. For kids who usually feel so comfortable when it comes to golf, they were about to step out of their comfort zone, think about how they want to shape their future and have provided the tools to do so – this was the College Golf Summit.

Organized by SCGA Junior and hosted by the TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim, CA, the College Golf Summit featured an interactive panel of speakers followed by an inquisitive Q&A session. The speakers were Ted Gleason, former collegiate head golf coach and current college counselor; Dr. Rick Sessinghaus, Doctor of Psychology and mental coach; Natalie Mattison, former Division I golfer at Oral Roberts University and Kevin Smith, representative of the SCPGA Junior Tour.

“I thought it was very informative and I learned a lot about what I need to have in order to play collegiate golf,” said Katherine Crinella, a sophomore at Edison High School, who was one of several members of the Edison girl’s golf team to attend the summit. “Academics are just as important as golf, and to play golf you have to have academics, too. Golf isn’t just about scores. You have to be a good mental player.”

Being mentally strong as a golfer and a student was a key point emphasized by all three speakers.

“The mental game includes focus and confidence,” Sessinghaus said. “Coaches want to see how you react after hitting a bad shot.”

In addition to covering topics relating to golf performance, Gleason also focused on how to play in college by discussing what tournaments to play in as a junior golfer, how to introduce yourself to a college coach and finding a school that is right for you, regardless of the golf team.

“What stood out to me was Coach Gleason’s point that you need to find the school that’s right for you more than just trying to pick a school based on golf,” Peter Crinella, Katherine’s dad said. “There’s a lot more to it than just golf, and if you do want to golf you want to be at the school that gives you the best opportunity to do so.”

Knowing that there are different levels of competition in college is critical, said Gleason. The event explained the differences between NCAA divisions and reiterated the fact that there is a level for everyone.

“Be honest with yourself,” Gleason advises. “What kind of experience do you want in college? Golf doesn’t have to be the defining experience, but you can still play.”

Gleason outlined strategies for putting a high school golfer in the best position for success as they get ready for college, such as playing in multi-day tournaments and checking team’s scores to see where your skill level best aligns.

The purpose of the yearly Summit is to expose high schoolers and their parents to the world of college golf and help them understand the many options that are available and how to get there.

The College Golf Summit is part of SCGA Junior’s ongoing college programming series, which includes campus tours and a summer college prep program.

“Success is finding what you love,” Gleason said. “If you take golf out of the equation you want to still love the school.”