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Opinion & Analysis

Is a PGA Golf Management program for you?



Editor’s note: Henry Stetina is the Program Coordinator for the PGA Golf Management Program at New Mexico State University.

You’re a senior in high school, and if you’re anything like I was, you’re scared, nervous and uncertain of what to do next. Assuming that you love golf, I am going to guess that you’ve probably dreamed of playing golf in college and ultimately playing on the PGA Tour. As good as that sounds, unfortunately for most of us, it is just that: a dream.

I believe in following your dreams, but the chances of actually making the PGA Tour are very slim from a statistical standpoint.

So now what? What are you going to do with your life and/or college education? Well, there is still hope for being around the game that you love, while simultaneously making a comfortable living. Becoming a PGA Golf Professional who manages the operations of a golf facility, coordinates tournaments, merchandises and gives golf lessons is a viable option for anyone with a passion for golf.

The Program

The PGA Golf Management University Program is a 4.5-year program, offering students the opportunity to earn PGA membership while earning a bachelor’s degree in a field relevant to the golf industry. Students complete Levels 1, 2, and 3 of the PGA’s PGM Education, 16 months of internship under direct supervision of a PGA professional, and the PGA’s Playing Ability Test, thus earning membership into the PGA of America upon graduation and eligible employment.

Hebron Seminar

Pictured above: PGA Hall of Fame instructor, Michael Hebron, hosts teaching seminars for PGA Golf Management students.

Not only do students complete the necessary coursework for the PGA, but they also have access to seminars taught by some of the industry’s leading experts in teaching, club repair, rules of golf, club management, and other specialties within the golf industry.

The program provides students with hands-on experience teaching golfers of all levels, through group and private lessons, as well as learning how to fit and repair golf clubs, including re-gripping and re-shafting. Many of the university programs have teaching facilities that are equipped with the industry’s leading launch monitors, video equipment, and motion analysis software, which teaches students how to utilize technology for teaching and club fitting.

While a large part of the curriculum is based on developing golf instructors, students also have the opportunity to better their own games through player development programs taught by expert golf instructors and tournament programs that allow students the opportunity to test their game in competition.


Winners of the PGM “Ryder Cup” Trophy

The Mentor

One of the most useful resources for the students is the faculty and staff who run the PGA Golf Management Programs. The directors are educated and respected within the golf industry, and their relationships and expertise help turn students into professionals.

[quote_box_center]“The opportunity to help mold these young students into professionals and find out what they want as a career has been gratifying and challenging,” says Pat Gavin, PGA member and Director of the PGA Golf Management Program at New Mexico State University. “Most students come to NMSU knowing they love golf, but my job is to help them decide that they want the golf industry as a career.”[/quote_box_center]


NMSU PGA Golf Management Program Director, Pat Gavin, playing golf and mentoring his students.

The Student

Soup Kitchen

As an incoming freshman, you can expect to complete the Qualifying Level and begin Level 1 of the PGA’s PGM Education. This includes, but is not limited to: Intro to the PGA Golf Management Program, Constitution of the PGA of America, Rules of Golf, Business Planning, and Customer Relations. At the completion of freshman year, students embark on a three-month internship at a green-grass facility under the supervision of a PGA member.

Note: 99.9 percent of internships are paid internships, and many include free housing. Students are never expected to work without pay.

Gavin Classroom

Above is a typical classroom setting for the PGA Golf Management Program.

Most PGA Golf Management Programs use a schedule where students attend school in the fall and spring, and then begin an internship during the summer.

Many students get the opportunity to teach junior golf clinics as well as group and individual lessons for adults while on internship. Students also get the opportunity to meet leaders in the golf industry and influential people in the business world.

The Alumni

Kelbel Cup 2013

One of the greatest benefits of the PGA Golf Management Programs is its fraternal-like atmosphere, and the networking opportunities that are associated with it. After graduation, many students will pursue a career in the golf industry.

[quote_box_center]“I receive emails on a daily basis regarding job openings, and I immediately forward them to our database of over 700 alumni and 150 current students,” Gavin says. “We pride ourselves on 100 percent job placement on internships as well as permanent positions upon graduation.”[/quote_box_center]

Questions to Ask

Q: What degree will I earn, and does this degree carry any weight outside of golf?

Some universities offer degrees in Business, while others are in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Managment (HRTM), or even in Parks and Recreation.

Let’s say that you complete the PGA Golf Management Program, and five years into your career you realize that the golf industry isn’t for you. At that point, the degree becomes really important. Changing careers and getting a new job may be dependant on the degree that you earned in college. Also, there are some universities that don’t even write “PGA Golf Management” or “golf” anywhere on the diploma. This is to protect the graduates in the event that he/she wishes to make a career change and leave the golf industry.

Q: Can I become a golf professional without entering this program?

Bill Cioffoletti

PGA Master Professional, Bill Cioffoletti, speaks to PGA Golf Management students prior to the 2014 PGA Jones Cup

If PGA membership is what you seek but you don’t like the idea of a 4.5-year university program, there is another option. You could enroll in the PGA apprentice program, go through the same curriculum as the university program and earn PGA membership. This a great option for individuals who already have a college degree. A disadvanage of the aprentice program is that it does not come with the networking opportunities of the PGA Golf Management Program, and it requires going to the PGA Education Center in Florida to attend various seminars.

The Decision

For all you high school students, ask yourself a simple question: “What job will allow me to look forward to going to work every single day?”

If it’s golf, then maybe you should consider a career in the golf industry. It will keep you connected to the game that you love and allow you to share your passion for golf with others.

For more information regarding the PGA Golf Management Program, click here.

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Henry is a PGA member and TPI certified golf instructor. Employed by New Mexico State University, Henry spends the majority of his time teaching the PGA Golf Management curriculum. He specializes in teaching golf instruction and player development. Henry also coaches a handful of amateur, elite junior, and professional golfers. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: June 2014



  1. Tom Wishon

    May 7, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Anyone seriously considering a career in the golf industry via the PGA has to be VERY careful today to diligently investigate their chances for being able to land a good paying position with good job security and opportunity for advancement. There are so many things going on today in the golf business that all add up to the fact that it has become very difficult to make a good living as a PGA professional.

    The drop in participation in the game means fewer golfers are playing fewer rounds in total and there is nothing on the immediate horizon to indicate this is going to change anytime soon. More courses are closing each year than are opening. More and more course owners are choosing not to hire a PGA professional to run their operation. More and more course owners are also taking more things away from the position of head pro. The days of the pro owning the shop, getting 100% of his lesson money, getting a cut off the cart revenue, etc are dwindling. And at present there are more PGA members than there are positions for the pros at golf facilities.

    No question those who do complete a PGM degree program have a better chance because of the higher level “pedigree” this gives them. But unless you have very good contacts at very successful golf facilities to get your foot in the door, it’s not really the best time for a person to try to jump in new to become a PGA member with a good head professional position.

    Sorry to be Johnny Raincloud on this because there is no question the PGM programs are so good in terms of training people to be the best club professional they can be. It’s just not a great time for goof paying jobs in this field.

  2. Tara

    May 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    if you do the research, the % of college graduates employed within 6 months after graduation hovers around 60% and that employment may not necessarily be in their field of study. The rate for graduates of PGA Golf Management programs seeking employment is nearly 100% and their compensation equals if not exceeds the average wage for a graduate just out of college. Nearly all of the management level jobs for golf faciltiies are not going to be found on Google but a PGA Member-only search engine portal.
    In the state of Florida, golf provides $6 billion of direct revenue to the economy, that is 2nd only to Mickey and the amusement arena.
    If you calculate the number of facilities at 15,000 and our membership at 22k, that’s approximately 1.5 PGA pros / facility and many sites employ beyond that number.
    There is no doubt that STEM education is valuable and provides good compensation post grad. However, you should look at the incoming test scores on the math component of standardized tests, it is not promising. Millennials are not necessarily all going to gravitate nor qualify for those types of jobs.
    I suggest you spend a day in the shoes of a PGA professional of a busy daily fee or upscale private club and you will find that we are not lazy by any stretch.

    • mike

      May 6, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      Don’t make stuff up for the sake of argument. I don’t consider working at golf shops, golf ranges, etc as jobs that require or necessitate a 4-5 year college degree. 100% employment is a blatant lie. There are 15,000 golf courses but the vast majority are small operations where they need nor can afford a PGA pro on staff. Even if you have low incoming math scores, working hard for a year or two can easily get you into a STEM related field. If STEM is not up your alley then there are plenty of other choices you can make contrary to what many think in the US. Guess what the PGA of America CEO was before??? LAWYER…

  3. Jordan

    May 5, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    As a graduate of Arizona State’s PGM program, I can tell you that there is nothing ‘irresponsible and lazy’ about the program as described above. Earning a bachelor degree while affiliating yourself with the PGA of America is a great accomplishment. Students in this program sacrifice a significant amount of time at their internships while most college students take their summers off. As an employer, why wouldn’t you look to graduates of the PGM to fill managerial positions at some of the top golf facilities? In addition to the connections you make within your PGM program, think about the connections within the membership at the golf clubs you will be employed at, you will be rubbing elbows with some of the most successful business men/women in the world. If you love the game of golf and want to begin a career following your passion for the game, the PGM program is certainly a great option to consider.

    • mike

      May 5, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Go search on any job site and tell me how many hits you get with keywords golf or pga. If you happen to get a hit, can you tell me the salary range? Spending 4-5 years of your life and $100K – $200k in tuition for a degree that probably won’t get you a job. Even in the remote chance you do get a job, the salary will be so low you will still be paying off that college loan well into your thirties. If you want to rub elbows with successful business men/women, why don’t you just become one yourself…

      • Xander Walsh, PGA

        May 5, 2015 at 8:54 pm

        Don’t need to do a Google search. Salary range starting out if you work year round is in the 22-33K range. Not great, but read on. Ferris State PGM gets plenty of places looking for alumni from the program and that gets posted for our alumni. The PGA has job postings just for people affiliated with the PGA. Neither will be found on this Google you speak of. I spent 4.5 years of my life in school and on internships. Cost was about $70K and I owe about $40K back. I am, however, a Class A PGA member right out of school and going through the PGM programs is the fastest way to obtain PGA membership. I can’t speak for the other schools, but graduating as a Ferris PGM student it’s not a matter of IF you get a job, it’s where.

        • mike

          May 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm

          I never mentioned Google search. PGA job postings can be viewed by anyone who registers on the site and the pickings are slim at best. There’s a place for PGA Professionals in this world but definitely not as a 4 year college degree program. There are about 15,000 golf courses in the us. Do you really think that number can support the number of graduates? Also, how many of those courses are desirable places to work at? There are probably less than a 1000 that are top tier facilities and how many Ferris PGM graduates work at those places? You probably want to add golf ranges and golf stores but I don’t believe you go to a 4 year college to work at those places.

          • Xander Walsh, PGA

            May 6, 2015 at 9:45 am

            There are plenty of jobs in the industry besides golf courses and plenty of good jobs at places that are not top tier courses. If becoming a PGA Professional is what you want to do and you don’t have a college degree, PGM is the best way to go. I do know a pro who did not get a college degree and went through the apprentice program to earn his PGA card. He’s a head pro at a top tier facility, but it took him a long time to get to that point.

  4. Mark Reischer

    May 5, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Glad to see lots of PGA professionals posting and commenting!
    A friend of mine who has been a member for over 20 years made an interesting point about the “other” golf training programs which made sense to me:
    “The PGA of America and PGA Class-A’s should not support or give credit towards those other programs. They aren’t accredited by the PGA and directly compete with jobs that a PGA member could have had. I don’t understand why any Class-A professional would become a teacher at those schools because you are part of an organization and we have to look out for each other. Those programs don’t support the PGA of America, they directly compete against us. Any Head Professional or Class-A in a position of management (or that hires people) should not be hiring anybody who did not come from a PGM school/went through or going through the PGA program.”

    Again, made sense to me. Thoughts?

  5. mike

    May 5, 2015 at 2:55 am

    If you are senior in high school and love golf? It’s not too late so start studying hard in anything related to STEM, then work hard and save your money. As long as you are disciplined, you should be able to start enjoying the fruits of your labor (like playing golf for fun at very nice courses) as early as when you turn 30. Spending (actually wasting) 4 – 5 years in college to become a PGA professional? Not a good idea. Actually, it’s irresponsible and lazy. I know it sounds great that you do “golf” stuff in college but really think about your future. Do you want a job that will get you “at most” about 30k – 50k a year + some free golf? Leaders in golf are exclusively former lawyers. Leaders in the golf industry are mostly businessmen, financiers, entrepreneurs, and engineers.

    • Andy Nelson PGA

      May 5, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Graduating with a Bachelors in Business Administration I do not think for a second that I “wasted my time” as you sincerely quoted in your response. There are actually people in this world that choose to follow their dreams and work hard at it to make a decent living. Plus there are countless PGA Professionals pulling in six figures a year. Also there is no guarantees in the job market these days, and your debate with studying STEM, I have an older sister that studied engineering at Boston University, Purdue, and Notre Dame and she still cannot find employment.
      Please think twice before offending the people that truly embrace and love this game enough to devote the better part of their lives to grow the game.

      • mike

        May 5, 2015 at 8:07 pm

        You have an older sister that went to 3 different colleges? Did she graduate any of them? 90% of those who graduates with an engineering degree get jobs immediately out of school and the rest get a job at a later time. Just go to and search “PGA” or “GOLF” and take note of how few jobs there are. Now go to and search “ENGINEERING” or “PROGRAMING” and take note of numerous results you will get. Average starting salary for a junior programmer (with absolutely no experience) is $75K – $90k and the average salary for a senior programmer is about $250k. Another important point is that there are plenty of these jobs available. Compare that to PGM and Business Administration type jobs… First of all, there aren’t many jobs available. Even if there are available jobs, you need experience and/or connections. Six figures? You may know a few that make six figures but that’s not the norm (and you know it!). Guess how much those PGA Pro’s at Dick’s were getting paid before they got laid off?

      • mike

        May 5, 2015 at 8:49 pm

        Your older sister went to 3 different colleges? Did she graduate any of them? 90% of engineering graduates get a job immediately after college and the rest eventually find a job at a later time. You may know of a few PGA Pros that pull in six figures but that’s definitely not the norm (and you know it). Average starting salary for a junior programmer (with absolutely no experience) is $90k. Average salary for a senior programmer is $250k+++. Go to any job site and you will see thousands upon thousands of job openings that are STEM related. Unlike many PGM relate jobs where you need to “know” someone or have some connections, STEM type jobs are purely based on your skills.

      • Andy

        May 6, 2015 at 10:36 pm

        Three different schools, one for her bachelors, the next school masters, finally the third PHD
        Just wanted to clarify.
        I also agree with you that you definitely do not need to attend a PGM school to work in the business, however the road to being able to support yourself in this field can be a lot tougher if you don’t.
        I appreciate your input and I can say that a career in the golf business isn’t for everyone but it can be a real blast for the select few that have the right determination and passion for this great game we all love.

    • Austin

      Feb 23, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      You should actually do some research on the PGM program and what career paths you can have after you graduate. Guess what, they aren’t all career paths to be an assistant pro at a muni or dicks. There is golf club design/repair, merchandising retail, tournament operations, broadcasting, journalism, the list goes on. Just like anything else, hard work and dedication will lead you places. Do you also know how many students are studying to become engineers and programmers right now? probably about a few thousand times more than those studying to become apart of the PGA. If you want a job as a pga teaching pro, thats exactly what you’ll without a worry. If you want to go into the business or journalism side, being a member of the PGA of America adds tons of credibility. Not everyone wants to slave their lives away for 20 years to try and make 250k a year so they can retire at age 50 and THEN start playing golf. A simpler mindset of trying to actually get something out of your career other than a dollar sign is more common than you seem to think

  6. George Jones

    May 1, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    This was a refreshing article. I’ve often overlooked the gentlemen working behind the counters at local pro shops and golf courses on their affiliation to the pga or what they mean when they say staff taylormade player etc. I wouldn’t mind actually reading what that means.

  7. Andy Nelson PGA

    May 1, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Great article! I attended a PGM school, Methodist University, and it was the best 4 years of my life! It was like going to college with 300 golf buddies. The education and connections I got are truly priceless and have set me apart in this great business.

    • Kyle Brannan

      May 1, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Andy was my suite mate on my first internship in Minnesota!

      • Tom Otto

        May 2, 2015 at 2:05 am

        Hey Kyle! I’m at the PGM Program at coastal carolina and I read that you did your internship in MN! I’m from there and going back this summer to intern at TPC Twin Cities. If you don’t mind me asking, where do you go for your internship in MN?

        • Andy Nelson PGA

          May 2, 2015 at 11:36 am

          We worked at Madden’s Resort in Brainerd Minnesota

          I am originally from Duluth but a Floridian now 🙂

          • Tom Otto

            May 2, 2015 at 10:22 pm

            That’s awesome! I go up there sometimes in the summer. Great set of golf course out there.

      • Andy Nelson PGA

        May 2, 2015 at 9:50 am

        Hey Brother! Hope all is well!

      • Jenny

        May 3, 2015 at 9:18 am

        Hey guys, remember that time you turned me into Swiss cheese?

  8. Brandon

    May 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    But does the industry give you enough to succeed? Are there enough good jobs to where you can make a decent living?

    These are the questions I would be interested in learning the answers to

    • Xander Walsh, PGA

      May 5, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      The industry gives you nothing. You earn it. Yes, you can make a living in the golf industry. It will probably take time and hard work though.

  9. LorenRobertsFan

    May 1, 2015 at 12:08 pm


  10. LorenRobertsFan

    May 1, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I’m in the program at Mississippi State. I couldn’t recommend it enough of you are interested in being prepared for a career as a PGA Professional. The internships, faculties, and seminars give you everything you need to succeed

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Why wedge mastery is so elusive



I have conducted numerous surveys of golfers over my 40-year golf industry career, because I have always believed that if you want to know what people are thinking, you simply have to ask them.

As a gearhead for wedges and a wedge designer over the past 30 years, most of my research and analysis is focused on these short-range scoring clubs and how golfers use them. What this research continually tells me is that most golfers—regardless of handicap–consider the wedges the hardest clubs in the bag to master. That’s because they are. I would even go so far as to say that the difficulty of attaining mastery even extends to the best players in the world.

Watching the Genesis Open this past weekend, for example, it seemed like these guys were hitting wedge approaches on nearly every hole. And while there were certainly many shots that covered the flag—like Max Homa’s approach on 18–there were also a great number that came up woefully short. Not what you would expect when a top-tier tour professional has a sand or gap wedge in their hands.

The simple fact is that wedges are the most difficult clubs in our bags with which to attain consistent shotmaking mastery, and that is because of the sheer design of the clubhead itself. For clarity of this article, I’m talking about those full- or near full-swing wedge shots, not the vast variety of short greenside shots we all face every round. To get mastery of those shots (like the tour pros exhibit every week), you simply have to spend lots of time hitting lots of shots, experimenting and exploring different techniques. There are no shortcuts to a deadly short game.

But today I’m talking about those prime opportunities to score, when you have a full- or near-full swing wedge into a par-five or short par four. We should live for those moments, but all too often we find ourselves disappointed in the outcome.

The good news is that’s not always all your fault.

First of all, you must understand that every wedge shot is, in effect, a glancing blow to the ball because of the loft involved. With 50 to 60 degrees of loft—or even 45 to 48 degrees with a pitching wedge—the loft of the club is such that the ball is given somewhat of a glancing blow. That demands a golf swing with a much higher degree of precision in the strike than say, an 8-iron shot.

I have always believed that most golfers can improve their wedge play by making a slower-paced swing than you might with a longer iron. This allows you to be more precise in making sure that your hands lead the clubhead through impact, which is a must when you have a wedge in your hands. Without getting into too much detail, the heavier, stiffer shaft in most wedges does not allow this club to load and unload in the downswing, so the most common error is for the clubhead to get ahead of the hands before impact, thereby adding loft and aggravating this glancing blow. I hope that makes sense.
The other aspect of wedge design that makes consistent wedge distance so elusive is the distribution of the mass around the clubhead. This illustration of a typical tour design wedge allows me to show you something I have seen time and again in robotic testing of various wedges.

Because all the mass is along the bottom of the clubhead, the ideal impact point is low in the face (A), so that most of the mass is behind the ball. Tour players are good at this, but most recreational golfers whose wedges I’ve examined have a wear pattern at least 2-4 grooves higher on the club than I see on tour players’ wedges.

So, why is this so important?

Understand that every golf club has a single “sweet spot”–that pinpoint place where the smash factor is optimized—where clubhead speed translates to ball speed at the highest efficiency. On almost all wedges, that spot is very low on the clubhead, as indicated by the “A” arrow here, and robotic testing reveals that smash factor to be in the range of 1.16-1.18, meaning the ball speed is 16-18% higher than the clubhead speed.

To put that in perspective, smash factor on drivers can be as high as 1.55 or even a bit more, and it’s barely below that in your modern game improvement 7-iron. The fact is—wedges are just not as efficient in this measure, primarily because of the glancing blow I mentioned earlier.

But–and here’s the kicker–if you move impact up the face of a wedge just half to five-eights of an inch from the typical recreational golfer’s impact point, as indicated by the “B” arrow, smash factor on ‘tour design’ wedges can be reduced to as low as 0.92 to 0.95. That costs you 40 to 60 feet on a 90-yard wedge shot . . . because you missed “perfect” by a half-inch or less!

So, that shot you know all too well—the ball sitting up and caught a bit high in the face—is going fall in the front bunker or worse. That result is not all your fault. The reduced distance is a function of the diminished smash factor of the wedge head itself.

That same half-inch miss with your driver or even your game-improvement 7-iron is hardly noticeable.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Breakthrough mental tools to play the golf of your dreams



Incredibly important talk! A must listen to the words of Dr. Karl Morris, ham-and-egging with the golf imperfections trio. Like listening to top athletes around a campfire. This talk will helps all ages and skills in any sport.



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On Spec

On Spec: Homa Wins! And how to avoid “paralysis by analysis”!



This week’s episode covers a wide array of topics from the world of golf including Max Homa’s win on the PGA Tour, golf course architecture, and how to avoid “paralysis by analysis” when it comes to your golf game.

This week’s show also covers the important topic of mental health, with the catalyst for the conversation being a recent interview published by PGA Tour with Bubba Watson and his struggles.




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