PGCC and UW Stout Partnership Still Growing StrongWhen Dr. Tim Somerville launched the Professional Golfers Career College he had several ingredients in mind. Basically,"Doc", as he is affectionately called, wanted to build a school where students of all ages and backgrounds could earn an associate degree in Professional Golf Management, learn the games’ important fundamentals, and all the while, let golfers play the game.
“Golf is a lifetime passion, and in some cases an escape from the world, “ Doc says. “The positive experience one gains from golf can be based on many things like how a course is managed, operated and maintained.”
“As we were constructing our three campuses in Temecula (California), Hilton Head (South Carolina), and Orlando (Florida) and fine tuning our two year associate degree I realized that in time we would need to find a partner so students and families could explore a four-year golf management degree. We needed an educational relationship.”
Enter the University of Wisconsin Stout, and Kris Schoonover.
In 2005 the School of Hospitality Leadership in Menomonie, Wisconsin introduced a golf management curriculum at the request of golf industry leaders and The National Golf Course Owners Association and the board of the NGCOA unanimously endorsed the Golf Enterprise Management degree. The program needed a director and someone who could implement the vision of UW-Stout. That director is Kris Schoonover.
Kris has spent a lifetime in the world of golf as a player, coach, and consultant. When she finds time to break away from the rigors of directing an educational golf program she spends many hours on the administrative staff of Erin Hills, a southeastern Wisconsin facility that hosted the 2011 United States Amateur and is poised to be the stage for the U.S. Open in 2017.
Somerville and Schoonover began talking about a partnership in 2007 and in 2008 it became a reality. The University of Wisconsin Stout welcomed PGCC as a full- fledged educational associate and it enabled PGCC students to further their golf education, transfer credits, and work towards a four-year college degree in golf management.
“We were so supportive of this proposal,” explains Schoonover. “PGCC offers a terrific faculty and staff and first rate facilities at all three of their campuses. Because their curriculum was so conducive to success in the golf industry, and the challenges that are ahead for us, this proved to be a total fit for both of our institutions.”
UW-Stout formatted its golf curriculum to enhance the PGCC experience. Credits from a student’s 16-month program at PGCC transfers to UW-Stout and enable a student to earn a Bachelor Degree in Golf Enterprise Management. Following the completion of the PGCC Professional Golf Management program, students can begin their golf career and take the UW-Stout classes online, advancing their career while continuing to work.
“It makes for terrific educational flexibility,” Schoonover says. “After taking the classes at PGCC and jumping into the golf industry, we enable students to earn and learn with online study.” UW-Stout offers extensive study in human resource management, country club management, retailing and merchandising products, and member services and development, just to name a few. Mike Hughes, Executive Director and CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, endorsed the PGCC UW-Stout relationship and agreed it is the perfect match.
Hughes shared, “Because of the hospitality programs, the excellent customer service offerings and the emphasis on applied learning this is a very beneficial association.”
Orlando Students Continue Demo Day Volunteer TraditionsFrom the humble beginnings in 1954 when a group of golf merchandisers gathered in the PGA National parking lot in Dunedin, Florida the PGA Demo Day and Merchandise Show has grown dramatically. In those days four or five merchandisers displayed their wares from the trunk of their cars. Today the show attracts more than 40,000 golf professionals and industry executives representing over 80 countries and all 50 U.S. states.
Demo Day, the one-day, outdoor event prior to the three-day indoor show, is held at Orange County National (OCN) in Winter Garden, Florida, adjacent to the Professional Golfers Career College’s Orlando campus. The nation’s largest practice facility at OCN serves as the backdrop for merchandisers promote everything from cutting-edge clubs and balls to sunglasses and plastic tees. Industry leaders and golf retailers have gathered every January since that first year to kick off the PGA Merchandise Show by testing out the latest technological advances that leading manufacturers have to offer.
Demo Day has the flashy allure with famous players, golf giveaways, and swag-a-plenty, but at its roots, it is about cold, hard facts; do the latest products really deliver on everything they claim to be able to do? This event is a critically important part of the PGA Merchandise Show experience, allowing PGA professionals, retailers and buyers to decide for themselves if a product is worthy of being placed in your hands.
This year over 100 golf equipment, accessory, training-aid, and performance-wear companies assembled to offer their absolute best to PGA professionals for real-world testing. To accommodate an event of this scale, some PGCC students began their Demo Day duties as early as 5am for setup. Our volunteers represented every grade level and joined forces with companies like Nike, Taylor Made, Ping, Oakley, Cleveland Golf, Titleist, Bridgestone, Cobra, Callaway, and many more to hold positions as tee ambassadors, registration attendants, shuttle drivers, setup crew, personal assistants and more to over 8,000 PGA professionals and insiders throughout the day across the 25 acre, 360 degree driving range.
It’s a good bet that at any given time over a thousand golf professionals were at OCN participating in cutting-edge clinics and enlightening themselves about best practices. Beyond entertainment and education though, the real life force of the day was enthusiasm. It takes a great deal of coordination to host an event of this magnitude, and with the continuing tradition of help from PGCC students the event, which was the largest and undoubtedly the best ever, went off without a hitch.
Welcome Spring 2014 FreshmenThis is the first few weeks of school for our Spring 2014 Freshman class and, while advice is traditionally offered as commencement is underway, it’s a good idea to offer a few words as students embark on their voyage because 16 months vanishes in the blink of an eye and we want our students to have the best shot at success that they can possibly have. One of the basic tenets at the Professional Golfers Career College is that “Attitude is Everything”, but what exactly does this mean?
Gary Gilleon, a graduate of PGCC Temecula, feels strongly that it means “There are different ways to measure success but there is always a direct link between input and output. Your level of effort will translate to your level of success anyway you define it.” Gilleon, who began his preparing for his second career as a student at the Professional Golfers Career College in 2009 following a 30 year career in the U.S. Navy, saw camaraderie as a major contributor to collective success. As one of the older students in his class, he made a habit out of looking out for other students. “Out of the strong camaraderie that develops in small groups, grows that desire to help each other. As an older guy in class class I always had my eye on younger students, wanting to help them. That’s why I love working here. I love sharing wisdom.”
Ultimately that is the aim of the Professional Golfers Career College; to share wisdom and resources. Gilleon continues, “I believe that here, at PGCC, defining success is learning is how to develop a ‘service mindset’. A great customer service attitude, which is being open, genuine and polite, translates into happy people.”
Spencer Callantine, Admissions Director at PGCC Hilton Head, graduated from the golf college in 2011 and arrived at the same conclusion; you get out what you put in. “Enjoy every second you have at PGCC because it will go so fast you won’t believe it, and take advantage of every opportunity to volunteer. The experiences you can have with the golf school will be mind blowing. I have worked with and volunteered for the LPGA, the Nationwide Tour, and ESPN. I can attest to the importance of affiliations with people and organizations like this in the golf industry.“
Beyond what our students get from PGCC, there’s also something to be said for what should be brought with them. Callantine continues, “I believe that most importantly, as a student, you should be prepared to absorb any and all information from the instructors; these are people who have gone through the very experiences that you are hoping to achieve someday.”
It’s no wonder that Gilleon and Callantine share the same sentiment about how to succeed; both studied under Jim ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, PGCC Temecula’s former Dean of Students, and a legendary fixture around campus. If you ask Wilkie what advice he has to offer to incoming freshmen, his words are simple and, unsurprisingly, similar to the aforementioned advice. “I want students to realize that this is their time to take advantage of all of the experience they have here.” Adding that “There are 24 hours in your day, and you’re only in class for four of those hours; take advantage, ask questions. The best players I’ve seen are the players who ask the most questions because they’re always learning something.”