College students who are passionate about golf might want to consider attending or transferring to a university that offers the Professional Golfers’ Association’s Professional Golf Management university program. The PGA/PGM program is a four-and-a-half year structured educational curriculum designed for aspiring golf professionals currently enrolled in a four-year university.
The program was created in 1975 at Ferris State University. This university was the first to gain PGA accreditation and offer the PGA/PGM curriculum. Eastern Kentucky University, Florida State University, North Carolina State University and Penn State University are just four of the 18 current PGA accredited universities nationwide. The University of Oklahoma will begin its PGA program in 2008.
A golfer’s education
Students enrolled in the PGA/PGM program are not confined to golf as their study major. The program acts as a supplement to their current studies. Students can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in several majors such as marketing, business administration, hospitality administration or recreation and park management. While working on their degrees, students in the program must complete an approved internship lasting at least 16 months at an industry-related facility, company or organization. Students are also required to complete all requirements of the program and pass a playing ability test.
The current cost of the program is $6,520 for books and materials plus transportation, lodging and meals when students visit the PGA Education Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Financial assistance is granted to deserving students at each university through scholarship, work-study programs, loans and grants.
The program requires apprentices to have a job in the industry before graduation. If a higher position isn’t available at their current facility, they may have to make the decision to go somewhere else. Students may follow six career paths in the industry: Golf Operations, Instruction, General Management, Retail, Executive Management, and Ownership and Leasing.
To enter one of the PGA/PGM programs, students must first meet individual university entrance requirements. The student must also demonstrate sound game playing skills. Playing and teaching the game is the cornerstone of the golf profession making it imperative that apprentices at least know how to play.
Sam Houston State University student Jenny Heinz is an apprentice in the program who will graduate in May 2009. She has held two internships through the program, one at the Greenhaven Golf Course in Anoka, Minn., and at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn.
"I would like to work as an assistant golf professional until I am able to move up to head golf professional," Heinz said about her plans after graduation.
"I like the PGA/PGM program because of the resources we have throughout the country," said Heinz. "I also enjoy being part of something and having guidance to get through the levels and a timeline on when things are to be done."
Kendall Murphy of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has held three internships through the program: at Meadow Club outside of San Francisco, at Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs and a 12-week tour around the country for the Callaway PGA Junior Series.
"Once I graduate and complete my final internship, I will return to school to pursue a master’s degree in hotel administration and/or sports management," said Murphy, who will graduate in May 2008. "When I complete that, I will join the work force. I see myself working on the corporate side of the industry or on the tournament side."
Murphy’s favorite thing about the program is the level of difficulty. "I like the fact that we have to work extremely hard to complete this program," he said. "It makes you feel just that much better about what you’ve done, by knowing that this program will weed out the weak and allow the strong to rise to the top. I believe that the industry sees that and respects people who come through the PGA/PGM programs just a little more."
When a PGA/PGM apprentice graduates he or she becomes a member of the PGA of America, the world’s largest working sports organization, with 28,000 male and female golf professionals. PGA professionals are eligible for local, state and national awards and can compete in PGA-sponsored events.
Program organizers emphasize that the PGA/PGM is for serious students who truly love the game. Do you have a passion for golf? If so, then visit PGA.com for more information.
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