An exploration of the American College golf system
: a developmental pathway for international student-athletes

  • Fraser Hutchison

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters by Research


The American College Sports system is as complex as it is unique and offers lucrative opportunities for international student-athletes by way of sports scholarships. This study set out to provide a critical overview of the United States (US) college golf system, to explore the experiences of student-athletes within the system and to critically analyse the transitions encountered. To investigate first hand perspectives of the US college golf system, face-to-face interviews were conducted utilising semi-structured interviews. The sample group was made up of five males and four females. Eight British and one Spanish student-athlete were interviewed at their home golf clubs. This allowed exploration of non-quantifiable qualities such as attitudes, feelings, thoughts and experiences, aspects which qualitative research aims to highlight (Gratton & Jones 2010). Inclusion was on the basis of being a student-athlete that had completed at least their first year (freshman year) while on a golf scholarship. Additionally, each participant was attending (or had attended) a different institution from across the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 and 2 level and also the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division 1 and 2 level.Findings from the study align with Wylleman and Lavallee (2004) transition theory and Ryan and Deci (2000) self-determination theory (SDT) and highlight the challenges facing international student-athletes. Moreover, results outline that transitioning from the United Kingdom (UK) into the US college golf system (post compulsory education) is far from straightforward, as student-athletes experience a series of normative and non-normative transitions. While these experiences during the initial months of the freshman year have the capacity to impact negatively on progression (such as homesickness), it was found that the US college golf system creates a community and environment that positively impacts on the student-athletes development over time, thus equipping them with strong life skills, as well as with the tools to positively overcome challenging transitions in the months and years thereafter.
Date of AwardOct 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorRoss Lorimer (Supervisor) & David Holland-Smith (Supervisor)


  • Student-athlete
  • Recruitment
  • Scholarships
  • NCAA
  • Grade point average
  • Transitions
  • SDT

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