Faculty Spotlight: Jim Wilkinson
Posted on July 26, 2017Jim Wilkinson has been sharing his love of golf to the students at the Professional Golfers Career College for nearly 20 years. Mr. Wilkinson is our Dean of Students and instructs multiple classes at PGCC; Freshman ‘Health Science’, Sophomore ‘Psychology II’, Junior ‘Psychology III’, and Senior ‘Leadership’. His personality exudes positivity which permeates throughout our Temecula campus. To both staff and students he’s better known as simply “Wilky”. Interestingly though golf wasn’t his first love, there was another sport at the center of his world.
Wilky hasn’t always been in the business of training and mentoring golf professionals. Before coming to PGCC another sport was at the center of Wilky’s world. “I was a basketball coach in Philly for 30 years,” explains Wilky. That was until, “a good friend called saying they were looking for someone with a Masters’ degree to come work as Dean of Students for another golf school.” He wasn’t looking for a change at the time, “but after 30 years of coaching thought it was worth looking into. I flew out and began working there for 7 years then I came to the Professional Golfers Career College.”
Wilky has a strong academic background with a Bachelors’ degree in Physical Education and History from West Virginia Wesleyan College. He went on to receive his Masters’ degree from Westchester. It wasn’t until after his collegiate career that he took an interest in golf. “In 1959, I graduated college, where I played baseball and basketball.” He continued to play those sports for another five years before he sought an alternate sport. “I realized that they were too tough of sports for me and needed to find something less physically demanding. I took up golf in 1964 and I haven’t stopped playing since.”
In Wilky’s office he proudly displays an autographed photo of Rickie Fowler, one of his favorites. He elaborates about it “I knew about Rickie through Lou Skovron, fellow PGCC co-worker, whose son Joe works as Rickie’s caddy. I was impressed not only by his play, but how he acted in person and how he’s such a kind person.” It’s those same values of kindness and respect, both on and off the course, which he instills into his students at PGCC.Wilky has had an illustrious career both within the golf profession and on the basketball court. Reflecting back on his time as a basketball coach, Wilky recalls his greatest accomplishment “in 1974, we won the Pennsylvania State Championships, which as a coach is the pinnacle of success.” His team was actually one shot away from repeating the next year. “We almost won it again in ’75, to go back-to-back, but we lost by a point at the buzzer.” While he’s been a part of the Professional Golfers Career College, Wilky regularly competes as part of the faculty team at our Presidents and International Cups, where students face off against faculty. “Playing golf with the students, and getting to know them on a more intimate level… that you can’t get in a classroom. It helps me to stay young.”
Wilky monitors the progress of our students once they’ve left PGCC. “I enjoy keeping track of where the students go. One student, Tim Forbes, came here and already had a Masters’ degree and other degrees. He was a top student and went on to work for the LPGA tour.” Additionally, Forbes went on to work for the PGA, the Symetra Futures Tour and he authored the book It’s Game Time Somewhere. Wilky relishes in seeing our graduates succeed. “It’s nice watching these people graduate. I enjoyed watching students’ careers develop from their days as a student and tracking their progress after they graduate. It’s great to see all of the success PGCC graduates have.” He is truly thankful for being able to assist so many achieve their dreams. “It’s a privilege to get to work with and teach these future golf professionals at PGCC.”Wilky, with his nearly 20 years of experience, explains some aspects which make PGCC different. “PGCC has a staff that genuinely cares.” This starts at the top level. “Our founder Dr. Somerville does things to get students involved with everything. For example, The Presidents Cup and International Cup, where the students help run the tournaments.” At PGCC we emphasize student engagement and interaction. Our staff, especially Dr. Somerville “really tries to make everyone here feel like part of a family.”
Wilky who is always seeking to expand his wisdom has a thick binder full of inspirational quotes. “I’m all about encouraging thoughts; I’ve been collecting motivational sayings and quotes for years.” He shares one as a final word of wisdom, “Here’s a good one: ‘the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.’“
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