The virtues of a virtual world made the fourth rendition of the annual PGA WORKS Beyond the Green event a unique success. Approximately 85 students from across the country interested in a career in golf took part in an inspiring two-hour video call hosted from the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
The students heard from a host of speakers and panelists including: PGA President Suzy Whaley, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh, WWE Broadcaster and PGA WORKS Ambassador Jonathan Coachman, Mark Immelman, CBS Sports Reporter Amanda Ballionis, Golf Channel Host Damon Hack, Golf Digest Host Hally Leadbetter, 2020 PGA Championship Director Barry Deach, PGA Professionals Greg Fitzgerald, Kendall Murphy, Junko Suzuki and Chris Kulinski, and more.
High school and college students from diverse backgrounds interested in pursuing a career in one of the 2 million jobs that surround the game were presented with the opportunity to connect with industry professionals, and receive a one-of-a-kind, virtual behind-the-scenes look at the operations of a Major Championship.
The goal of the career exploration event was to inspire and engage students who may be interested in career opportunities in the golf industry.
“We want you to pursue a career in the $84 billion golf industry,” said Whaley. “We want you to shape the future of our business, and we want each of you to be a part of it.”
Taking initiative, finding mentors, going the extra mile, discovering a sense of belonging and adapting to change were common themes.
“We want you to be a part of this,” echoed Coachman, a former ESPN SportsCenter Anchor who has worked with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson during his career. “The Rock always evolved and changed to make himself relevant. You need to do the same in this business or whatever business you want to get into.”
Hack recalled covering a golf event, when Arnold Palmer walked into the room. Palmer noticed Hack, and gave him a wink and a nod.
“When you get the blessing of one of the most important figures in the game, I knew I belonged,” explained Hack, who has relied on mentors throughout his career. “I know now that people have my back, and I let my work do the talking.”
Questions from the students arose about breaking into the industry. Panelists stressed developing connections with people in the field who can serve as a mentor throughout their career.
“The most important thing in this business is the relationship,” said Fitzgerald. “If you are making people happy, it makes you happy, and it comes back 10-fold.”
“Relationships are what bring us together,” added Murphy, the Assistant Director and Program Coordinator for the UNLV PGA Golf Management Program. “And it’s about raising the awareness of opportunities that exist that will help bring in more diverse talent into the golf industry.”
Leadbetter suggested that an old-fashioned courtesy can break the ice, such as a congratulatory letter, email, text or even a LinkedIn message. “No one is too busy for a compliment. The more you give shows your value and the better chance of a positive response.”
PGA WORKS Scholarship Recipient Rachel Wohn, 20, “attended” the event digitally from her home in Bluffton, South Carolina, approximately 2,740 miles away from San Francisco. The Clemson University Junior, who dreams of working in the media, still came away impressed.
“I thought it was extremely beneficial,” said Wohn, who is majoring in the PGA Golf Management University Program and minoring in Business Administration and Sports Communication. “In these unprecedented times, the PGA could have taken this in many directions, but what they did was just perfect. It was very informative and inspiring.”
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