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Professional Golf Management: The real story from PGM Program grads

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The PGA Golf Management University Program (PGM), a 4.5- to 5-year college curriculum for aspiring PGA Professionals is offered at PGA accredited universities nationwide. The program provides students the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the golf industry through extensive classroom studies and internship experience. When you graduate, in addition to your college degree, you become a PGA member with 100 percent job placement.

One school which offers the program is the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV). At UNLV, the PGM program falls within the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. According to QS World University Rankings, the school is the No. 1 school in the world for hospitality and leisure. Several other tier-one schools including Penn State (#59), Clemson (#66), NC State (#80) and University of Nebraska (#129).

The Experience

To better understand the experience of a PGM student, I reached out to Sean Fairholm. Sean is a graduate of North Carolina State University who now writes full time for Global Golf Post. According to Sean,

“I arrived on campus at NC State in 2010 with the intention of being a head professional at a golf course, a common aspiration for kids starting PGM. After my first internship, I realized that writing about golf for the student newspaper was more rewarding for me than standing in a pro shop. Nobody had ever gone through the program with the intent of being a journalist, so I feared my time in the program would end. I couldn’t have been more incorrect. The faculty at NC State (Andy Betz, Rob Wade, Susan Colby) fully embraced what was a foreign concept — they pushed for me to get an internship with PGA Magazine and even hung my first published article in the PGM office. They rallied around the idea of me becoming an A-18 (Golf Media) PGA Pro, and I’m extremely thankful for that.” 

This experience is echoed by Josh Salmon, the assistant director of PGM program at New Mexico State (NMSU) and former student there

“PGM provides a special environment with people who have a passion for golf and love mentoring youth. I chose NMSU because of this passion and it made all the difference; providing me with a home now, wherever day I get to share my passion with young people as a program coordinator of the program.” 

Player Development

Many of the PGM programs have extremely strong player development programs including access to on-campus golf courses at places like Penn State, Coastal Carolina University, North Carolina State, Clemson, Methodist, New Mexico State, Mississippi State, Sam Houston State and Eastern Kentucky.

The programs also have outstanding faculty who are there to help players develop, people like Henry Stetina. A graduate from New Mexico State University, Henry has won both the Sun Country PGA teacher of the year award, as well as the PGA Youth Development Award; or Eric Handley, a Senior Instructor within The Pennsylvania State University’s PGA Golf Management program and Director of the Penn State Golf Teaching and Research Center (GTRC). Prior to arriving at Penn State in 2005, Eric earned his master’s degree from NC State University while also serving as a Golf Professional at private country clubs in Durham, NC and Duluth, GA.

Members of the program also have access to a comprehensive tournament schedule. For example, at New Mexico State each year, players have access to an abundance of tournaments. A closer look at the results from Fall 2018 show that the average length of 6,920 yards and course rating of 72.1. The average winning score at the events is 70.12, with 2/12 events requiring a score of 67 or better to win, while only three had winning scores at or above par.

According to Henry Stetina of NMSU

“Our tournament program consists of 50 tournaments per academic year which allows students the opportunity to compete year-round. They also have access to a state of the art instructional studio featuring Trackman and video analysis. Individual and group player development programs are in place for students to develop their skills even further. Our program offers students the ability to take their game to the next level.”

Professional Golf Management allows young people with a love of golf to receive the mentoring they need to become impactful members of the golf community. Successful graduates have gone on to become head professionals, teaching professionals, golf writers, and even PGA tour coaches. So, if you’re really passionate about golf and see a future in the game, consider reaching out to one of these programs to learn more!

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Johnson Lampstone

    Jun 19, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    Anyone telling you this is a great business is lying to you. You must be sick for customer service and come from money. Most graduates go in to $35k/yr jobs where they almost never play. The review by “Bryan” is likely from someone who works for a PGM program. This career will drive you into debt and away from golf. It is all customer-service based.

    I dare you to find PGM graduates who are still in the golf business 5 years out of college…

  2. zp

    Apr 2, 2019 at 2:33 am

    I’m an alumni of the New Mex St PGM. I loved my time there, and have been lucky enough to land a spot on Maui. The golf pro life isn’t for everyone. But I sure do enjoy it, and my new life in the Aloha state.

  3. MSU Grad

    Mar 31, 2019 at 8:07 am

    I think this piece is a good start, but you really need to go into more detail about what the program is and the challenges you will face. Internships are amazing and can also open a lot of doors, but you also have to prepare the students for never having a summer off like their peers, due to internships. Some great careers have been spawned from the program, but it is a tough road and really takes dedication to stand out from the pack.

  4. Nicholas

    Mar 31, 2019 at 8:02 am

    If you love golf don’t get into the business. After 12 years my handicap went from a +3 to a 6 and I sunk further and further into debt. Trust me not worth it, there’s no sunlight at the end of the tunnel for 99%, if you’re a good golfer just put everything into getting on tour you probably have as good a chance of making it as you would making a good living as a pro… Now that “I’m on the other side of the counter” I’m happily a scratch player… don’t go into the golf industry; it’s a great game that I love, it’s an awful business decision

    • Bryan

      Mar 31, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      I do just fine as a PGA Professional financially and so do an endless amount of my peers. It seems you were “weeded out” by the system which it is great at doing. If your #1 and only priority was playing golf, then I’d say you got in for the wrong reasons.

      • Peace PGA

        Mar 31, 2019 at 11:06 pm

        I found the “weeding out” process you’re referencing to include both those that don’t quite make the cut but also, and more importantly, those that are exceptional but see the industry for what it is. I’ve worked at a number of top clubs and have noticed the lead assistants and head professionals to have remained not because they want to or desire to but because they are in too deep. For those of you reading, take my advice and stay as far away from PGM programs and the golf industry as you can.

  5. Gus

    Mar 31, 2019 at 12:48 am

    I’m a Ferris State PGM Grad- the initial PGM program. I’m steering my children elsewhere, this business is not what it once was. If you’re capable of obtaining a college education you can do much better elsewhere.

  6. Former pro

    Mar 30, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Interested in golf? Go get a job that pays well and offers a twelve month position. Because the deeper you get into you golf career the more you work and the less you golf. You end up working 10-12 hour days, and your salary ends up earning you $10 an hour. Go earn money at a job that can afford you to golf.

    • Smith

      Mar 31, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      I don’t see a whole lot of truth to this… I’m the Head Professional at a private member owned club in an area with many other similar private clubs… each Head Professional easily clears $140k. I don’t golf much because I choose to spend that time with my family, but I could realistically still golf at least twice a week if I chose to.

      Your post is a summary of the guys who get into the industry expecting to golf 8 days a week and don’t have the drive to stand out from their peers, which is unfortunately a very common sight in this business and why so many are weeded out. If you have the proper mindset and follow the course, it isn’t hard to make great money and still play golf in this industry…

      • Former pro

        Mar 31, 2019 at 10:24 pm

          • Smith

            Apr 1, 2019 at 1:33 am

            I imagine that figure is compiled from a survey that got 4 responses from Public golf course head professionals in rural areas with low cost of living, like the Midwest. With tools such as PGA CareerLinks available these days, I’m not sure who would be reporting their salary to “Payscale” anyways…

            As a golf professional, you choose where you want to work, what type of facility you want to be employed at and what type of professional you want to be, and how successful you want to be. If a Golf professional settles for any type of position or income level and then complains about it, that’s on him. The good jobs are out there.

          • Smith

            Apr 1, 2019 at 1:38 am

            I imagine that figure is from a very small sample of non-PGA professionals in a rural area with low cost of living like the Midwest. With tools available now like PGA CareerLinks, I’m not sure who would be using “payscale” anyways.

            As a golf professional, it is up to you as far aswhat type of facility you work at, what type of professional you aspire to be, and where you want to be. If any golf professional settles for a certain compensation and then complains about it, that’s on them, because the money and good jobs are out there

    • Fred

      Mar 31, 2019 at 4:08 pm

      My experience is different than in that comment. I’m almost 20 years into my golf career and play more golf than ever before. I also play more than most of my friends that love golf but work in other industries. Sure, a lot of it is with members and in work related golf but it’s still playing golf. Bottom line is that if you choose to use your free time to play and take advantage of opportunities to play on the job, you can play a decent amount in this business.

  7. WG

    Mar 30, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Are they still using vhs tapes and teaching how to whip heads like my experience in the mid-2000’s?

  8. Brian McGranahan

    Mar 30, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    The course I worked at starting getting so many unsolicited resumes from PGM graduates, my boss just started throwing them away without even opening them. Lol

  9. Dr Scrotenpuf

    Mar 30, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    You graduate, get hired somewhere that the cost of living greatly out ways your 15 hr wage, all while realizing that head pro job might be 10 + years out. Biggest waste of time/ money I have ever done. Oh, and all while you watch the caddies quadruple your pay.

    Want to be in the golf world = be a caddy and make 50k+ year min and get to play golf everyday.

    • DL

      Mar 30, 2019 at 10:24 pm

      Haha and make $50k every year with no health insurance. Not as glamorous as you make it sound.

  10. Trey Wingo

    Mar 30, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Not to mention the very first one, Ferris State in a “Big Miss”. There are more Ferris State grads in the golf industry then all other programs combined.

    • DL

      Mar 30, 2019 at 10:25 pm

      Absolutely! No mention of it. Complete whiff of an article.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Wilson Staff wedge and Bushnell Wingman review

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It’s a short one this week, but I’m reviewing the new-er Wilson Staff Model wedge and the Bushnell Wingman GPS and speaker. The Staff Model is a solid forged wedge that offers good feel, spin, and turf interaction for a slightly lower price. The Bushnell Wingman is a golf GPS and a bluetooth speaker in one. It has a TON of golf stuff built into it, but can also be used off the course to listen to your favorite tracks!

 

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The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better putter

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I began my golf industry career in the putter category as an ad agency account executive. The first new account I landed was Ray Cook putters, which in the 1960s and 1970s had experienced much success and earned quite a following in the pro ranks with the likes of Billy Casper, Bruce Crampton, Dave Stockton, Nancy Lopez, and many others.

Being naturally curious and “techy”, I was always drawn to the back end of the operation, figuring the more I knew about how and why putters worked, the better marketer I would become.

As I became more and more interested and knowledgeable about how putters worked, I also became somewhat obsessed by the study of the great practitioners of the “art” of putting. I read every book on putting I could find dating back to the early 1900s, and made a study of the techniques employed by the best putters on tour … but also those in the ranks of the recreational golfers I have observed. And I can tell you that some of the best putters I have seen come from both groups.

I should admit my father and brother were both excellent putters of the ball, but my own passion was for the ball-striking and shot-making side of the game. To be honest, I didn’t really like putting, much preferring to bang thousands of balls from my shag bag into the ninth fairway of that little 9-hole golf course that was my world growing up.

So, it shouldn’t surprise you that my putting was always the weakest part of my game–neglect will do that, right? I have struggled with the yips and sub-standard putting most of my golf life, which is rather strange, considering I have designed over a hundred putters and penned a full-length manuscript called “The Natural Approach to Better Putting”. I have never pursued publishing it, but should probably do so, as a recent return to that manuscript has proven very helpful to me.

You see, I have set a goal for myself to shoot my age this year at 69. [I saw a quote the other day that went, “it’s funny being the same age as ‘old people”, and I can totally relate.] To achieve that goal, I am simply going to have to become a better putter of the ball, so I have made that a mission. And it started by returning to my manuscript and buying a simple putting mat to facilitate daily work on my technique and stroke mechanics.
I began my putting overhaul at home by simply paying close attention to my own technique as I stroked putts “my way”. What I learned was that my grip was too tight and not fundamentally sound. That causes my right (master) hand being overactive, which in turn tends to make my stroke much too quick and right-hand dominated (borderline yippy). I also noticed that my shoulders tended to be open to the target line, so those poor fundamentals lead to these errors:

  1. A poor grip prevents the putter from traveling on a simple, natural arc back and through.
  2. The grip being too tight causes a quick, jerky stroke, which leads to “the yips”.
  3. Open (or closed) shoulders cannot pivot parallel to the target line – only across the line. So, that explains an overwhelming dominance of misses to the left.

With these fundamental flaws identified, the fix was rather academic. I’ve always compared a round of golf to painting the inside of the house, in that the closer you get to finishing, the slower and more careful you work.

The last step in painting is the trim, and a painter uses a smaller more precise brush and works very slowly and with great precision. Kind of like wedge play and putting …

In addition to the house painter, think of surgeons, computer technicians, fine artists…any activity that requires feel and precision demands a light touch on the tools and a careful and s-l-o-w action. Putting is no different.

So, now I’m working on repetition. Stroking 5-10 putts at a time throughout each day and evening, with acute focus on shoulder alignment, hand position and grip pressure, and making a very slow and rhythmic back-and-through “stroke”, not a “hit” of the ball. And my progress is coming very quickly.

I know I can’t fix everyone’s putting with this one article, but if you are not putting as well as you think you should, my bet is that one or more of these three basic fundamentals is the foundation of your problems–grip/grip pressure, shoulder alignment and pace of the stroke. And the good news is that they can all be fixed rather quickly with only a bit of practice, which you can do at home with a $50 putting mat if you don’t have putter-friendly carpet.

I’m working on grooving my putting technique at home, so that on the course all I have to think about is making the putt. Every great putter I’ve known, observed, or talked with said the same thing—all you should be thinking about is your target line and speed. Your technique has to be second-nature and sound.

And you can perfect that at home.

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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Match Play Madness – Bracket busting Horschel

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March Madness is in full swing and was on full display at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club. If your bracket had just a single top 20 seed making the weekend and the final 16, then you are either lying or have the 2021 Sports Almanac.

Normally, Ways to Win would focus on strokes gained and how the winners separated themselves from the pack, but match play is different. Match play does not necessarily highlight the player who plays the best over the course of a week, but it is certainly an entertaining way to crown a champion. The Dell Technologies Match Play is unique in that 64 players start the week in pods of three players. The pods battle in one-on-one match play from Wednesday to Friday to determine a single champion per pod. Those 16 champions then make a bracket that battles it out in a single-elimination battle to the finish in match play format.

PGA Tour players are all great, and, on any given day, can go extremely low. The challenge of a traditional stroke play tournament is that the players aren’t typically allowed to have an off day. One poor scoring day can eliminate their chance of winning, as every shot counts. Match play is a little different. Not every shot counts. If you lose a hole by one or by 10, it’s still just a single hole. One down. This typically allows players to play more aggressively, but also it allows players that aren’t on their “A games” to get a lucky match up and still advance. This was particularly apparent in the pod pairings.

A fun exercise is to look at the best score that lost a match as well as the worst score that won a match over the first three days.

Worst Score to Win or Tie a Match

The worst score to not lose a match was +3 and happened in round 2. It was shot by two different players. Will Zalatoris tied Tony Finau shooting three-over and Scottie Scheffler tied Andy Sullivan by also shooting +3. Tony Finau and Sullivan and lower rounds in stroke play, but in match play, it doesn’t matter. The score of +3 was only good enough to beat two players in the entire field that day, but it was good enough for a tie for those two players. Obviously, that tie was particularly valuable for Scheffler who was able to advance from the pods making it all the way to the final.

In match play, how your competitor plays is just as important as how you play. The worst score to actually win a match for the week was +1. Matt Kuchar, JT Poston, Xander Shauffele, and Bubba Watson all won a match with an over-par score. For perspective, of the 192 rounds played in pods, only 36 total rounds were over par. To win a round while shooting over par is extremely lucky. Getting the right match on the right day matters and was a big part of why Kuchar and Watson were able to advance to the weekend.

Best Score to Lose or Tie a Match

Imagine shooting 8 under and losing a match. Brian Harman was -8 on the 17 holes he finished against Patrick Cantlay and lost the match on the final hole. His 8-under would have been enough to beat every other player (except maybe Garcia) on that first day. However, he played Cantlay and lost. Luckily, Harman was still able to play well on the other days and advance to the bracket play, but his opening match results had to be frustrating. Talk about running into a buzzsaw.

There were many matches where -5 was not enough to win the match. Brutal.

Best Score to Lose a Pod

Now, the pod play included three matches, so a player might run into a buzzsaw on a given day, but you still had two other matches and opportunities to advance. However, in some cases, the whole pod might have played well and cost someone an opportunity at bracket play.

The award for “best golf to not advance” goes to Cantlay. He was -14 on the holes he played and got clipped by the play of Harman. That pod shot -53 in total and was the best overall pod by 13 strokes! Cantlay drew the short straw this week. He would have handily won any of the other 15 pods.

Worst Score to Win a Pod

For every loser, there has to be a winner. So, who played the worst golf and still advanced to the weekend? That award goes to Erik van Rooyen and Tommy Fleetwood, who managed to win their pods at just two under par. I hope Patrick Cantlay doesn’t see this!

Honorable mention goes to our two finalists, Scheffler, who won his pod at -3; and Horschel, who won his pod at -5. It’s difficult to argue that our winners played the best golf. It seems more that they drew the best grouping on their path to the championship. Who needs strokes gained?!

In fact, the final match only offered a single birdie and it was a 40-foot chip-in from Horschel. It was not exactly fireworks on the difficult Texas spring day.

Got your own match coming up? V1 Game can help you prepare and improve with its advanced analytics and Strokes Gained stats so you aren’t reliant on an off day to advance. Try the new Friends Mode and you can even play side by side with your buddy to get a full statistical breakdown of each other’s rounds.

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