Study & Play America: Golf scholarships in the States made easy

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Golf Today spoke with co-founder of Study & Play America, Chris Fletcher, to discuss the company's mission and how budding young golfers should be approaching the scholarship process.
Posted on
May 29, 2024
by
Jack Lumb in
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Founded in 2016 by Chris Fletcher and Henry Smart as a somewhat passion project, Study & Play America was established to support young, up-and-coming golfers to secure college scholarships in the States.

For many young golfers, venturing to the US with ambitions of playing on the PGA Tour one day is a common dream — the chance to enjoy the experience of a lifetime while developing as a golfer and competing against some of the future best players in the world.

So, who is Study & Play America and how can they help?

Well, the genesis of the company came about somewhat serendipitously. The pair — who had both garnered years of experience in the golfing world at county, international and collegiate levels — were approached by one of England’s regional coaches at the time, Matt Antell, to aid some of the country’s finest young golfers through the scholarship process.

“He asked if we would be able to help a few of the lads who are thinking about going out to the US, kind of guide them and their families through the process.

And we did it successfully. That was kind of the beginning. We took on three lads back then, and helped them and their families. They went to the top level, the NCAA Division 1. And I guess through the past eight years, it started with them, and just year on year, Henry and I have stuck to our guns of doing the right things for the families.”

Henry and Chris with one of Study & Play America's golfers
Henry and Chris with a Study & Play America golfer

Now, with eight years of experience, Study & Play America are at the forefront of college scholarships in the States.

However, the knowledge amassed doesn’t just come from time in the role.

Alongside the pair both playing NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA college golf, Henry has five years of experience as an NCAA Division 1 coach, where he developed a deep understanding of life in the States and the necessities surrounding the scholarship process.

“Our unique selling point is that once Henry graduated, he then became an NCAA Division 1 coach.

He did that for nearly four or five years at the College of Charleston. He was the guy handing out the scholarships, recruiting internationally, picking the tournament schedule and running the golf programme.

So that's really the big thing, on top of Henry and I both being there, both doing it, that's what separates us from the other agencies.”

As with most things in life, being in and around the right circle has its benefits. And for Henry, that proves all too true. The connections made have proved a valuable asset for the company, providing a mutual trust between Study & Play America and the prospective colleges.

Henry and Chris with one of Study & Play America's golfers and parents
Study & Play America build strong relationships with the athlete and family.

“He got to know all of the other NCAA Division 1 golf coaches over those five years. They all became his peers, his friends.

They respect him, and they respect Study & Play America's opinion on golfers going out to the US. So we were in a very fortunate position where our relationships with college golf coaches were down to that. We're in a pretty special position to be able to help the golfers that we work with. I don't believe any other agency can say that.”

In speaking with Chris, it’s evident that creating peace of mind for the athletes and their parents is of utmost priority. It allows the soon-to-be college student to be confident in their decision when heading out to the States.

Study & Play America achieves this through its attention to detail. Every aspect of the scholarship process from start to finish — until graduation — is carefully considered and attended to.

“It's not a case of working with Study and Play America, and (then) you automatically get a Stanford, Oklahoma State, Arizona State or one of those powerhouse programs. There's a lot that goes into it. And every golfer, student golfer, is different.

Each golfer has a different background and different golfing abilities. They all see it differently academically. Their families, as you can imagine, see it differently financially.

So we need to find the right fit for them from a golfing perspective; where they're going to go, are they going to make the lineup, make the team — hopefully in year one — and be able to play tournament golf when they get out there. We need to make sure that they go into university, which aligns with them academically.”

Chris and Henry with on of their athletes
Study & Play America works closely with their golfers throughout the entire college journey.

Despite only being a team of three — two up until a month ago — Study & Play America manages to surpass all expectations in its attentive nature toward its athletes. It would be easy enough to arrange a scholarship, send the athlete off and be done with it — but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Chris, Henry and the latest addition to the growing business, Jacob Smith, remain in constant, close contact throughout the entire process through to graduation. Not just with the golfer, but with the family, college and coaches too.

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“We've become pretty much like a support team around the golfer and their family."

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“We're in WhatsApp groups with all of the families that we work with. We meet up with all of them in person. We get out on the golf course, get our own video footage, get to know them as a person, aside from golf and academics, and then try, based on our connections, to find the best fits for the players. We've become pretty much like a support team around the golfer and their family.”

So what steps should aspiring golfers take if they’re interested in a scholarship to the States?

It’s easy to get one-track-minded with golf — naturally. But, it’s important to think of the bigger picture, especially from an academic perspective.

An athlete's day at a US College
A golfer's day at a US College

“If you’re considering the US, you're going out there to get a university degree, yes, there's going to be times where you're going to have fun, and let your hair down, but the academics definitely come first. When I got to the US it was very much, I’m a student first, an athlete second.

But you've got to take the academics seriously, you're working towards a university degree. There are different levels in the US, the NCAA, the NAIA, and the NJCAA, the only barrier, aside from health, and golfing ability, is the academics.”

Heading to the States is a big decision in every aspect, and it needs to be carefully considered and approached.

But for those who have made their mind up, the first step can be as simple as reaching out for a discussion.

“​​I think I would say have a conversation with us. We're very open and transparent with the families that we have conversations with, in that it's a big decision. We give them all of the facts in regards to what it looks like financially, what levels we'll potentially be looking at for their son or daughter, and how we can help with tournament scheduling”

With an already stellar track record and testimonials, it’s clear to see why Study & Play America has become the go-to for golf scholarships in the States.

Personable, reliable and driven, they provide budding athletes with the opportunity of a lifetime, all the while ensuring around-the-clock assistance for both the player and family throughout the journey.

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About the Study & Play America team

Chris Fletcher Study & Play America 1

Henry Smart Study & Play America

About Jack Lumb

Jack is the editor of Golf Today. Having spent ten years playing competitively at a high amateur level and five years at county, he has carried his knowledge of the game into the world of journalism. He once set the course record at his home club, only for it to be beaten a month later.

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