A college golf recruiting commitment is a complicated marriage negotiated among an academic institution, an athlete and the school’s golf program. When University of Michigan sophomore Jack O’Donnell (Cohasset, Mass.) of Boston GC (Hingham, Mass.) signed his college golf National Letter of Intent (NLI) with the Big Blue in November 2019, it was done with the clear-eyed perspective and disciplined rationalization that might have been expected from someone who had achieved high honors throughout all four years at BC High.
O’Donnell, now 20, was not exactly short on college golf suitors in 2019, having fielded inquiries from all the likely candidates ever since he burst onto the local golf scene by making match play in the Massachusetts Amateur at storied Taconic Golf Club in 2016 as a precocious 14-year-old.
O’Donnell fell in love with everything about Michigan during the recruiting process, particularly the vision and character of newly-installed Michigan head coach Zack Barlow. Just 32 when he was hired, Barlow was coming off a formative five-year run as assistant to Mike Small at perennial Big Ten powerhouse Illinois. Barlow also enjoyed a four-year playing career at Illinois under that same legendary coach. Barlow understood the roadmap to college golf excellence and the necessity of getting the right kind of players.
O’Donnell, one of three members of Barlow’s first recruiting class, remains ecstatic with his college choice. He recently doubled down on his commitment to Michigan by deciding (jointly with Barlow) to redshirt this year and thus leave himself with three years of eligibility.