They came from 41 colleges and universities—and hailed from some 20 countries—to follow their very possible dream of a career in golf.
A total of 189 student-athletes competing in this weekend’s PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship took part in the annual PGA WORKS Career Expo, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Thursday evening.
The students met with representatives of companies from across the golf industry, as well as with insurance and financial services company AIG, which recently announced a major donation to PGA REACH in support of the Championship, the most culturally significant event in collegiate golf.
“Golf is an $84 billion industry, and we want all of you in this room to think about it as a career choice,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley addressing the participants. “We need people like you, and we want you to be the face of the industry in the future.”
“AIG is proud to partner with the PGA of America to expand diversity and inclusion beyond golf and into the business world, where we need diverse perspectives, view points and experiences,” said Yarmon Kennedy, AIG Vice President of Strategic Planning & Analysis.
PGA WORKS—part of PGA REACH, the 501(c)3 charitable foundation of the PGA of America—is designed to evolve the demographic composition of the golf industry’s workforce. This is done by providing fellowships, scholarships, career exploration events and the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship, all designed to inspire and engage talent from diverse backgrounds to pursue employment positions across the golf industry.
During the PGA WORKS Career Expo, student-athletes met face-to-face with 17 potential employers including: AIG, Advocates Pro Tour, AJGA, Billy Casper Golf, Buffalo.Agency, FootJoy, GolfTec, LPGA, Octagon, PGA of America, PGA Golf Club, PGA Tour, TaylorMade, Titleist, TopGolf, Troon and the USGA.
The Expo offered one-of-a-kind opportunities for a unique combination of students. Every one of them has a story to tell. For University of Maryland Eastern Shore PGA Golf Management University Program student DeAndre Diggs, 20, of Baltimore, his is a tale of perseverance. He grew up in a single-parent home that burned down when he was 17, costing his family everything. But Diggs earned a full-ride scholarship from the Caves Valley Golf Club Foundation, and has since interned at The Broadmoor in Colorado. This summer, he plans to intern at Congressional Country Club near Washington, D.C., as he continues his pursuit of PGA Membership.
“I’m enjoying the Career Expo,” said Diggs. “The exposure for the students will direct a lot of our lives. It is going to change the game and the industry.”
“The nice part is to have a place to network and learn the different things you can do in golf behind the scenes,” added Casey Lindo, 20, a Junior Computer Science major at North Carolina A&T, who is considering a golf career after serving in the U.S. Air Force, where he hopes to play on the military branch’s golf team.
The students were also treated to a personal financial seminar by AIG, which focused on investing for their future, saving for a rainy day, maintaining good credit and managing debt properly.
“It was very informative,” said Mary Kate Krueger, 21, a Junior Kinesiology major at the University of Houston-Victoria. “I learned about the golf industry and a lot things outside of golf.”
A very different sort of seminar was conducted by Men’s and Women’s World Long Drive Champions Maurice Allen and Phillis Meti, who along with emcee Jonathan Coachman of WWE, ESPN and Madden video game fame, staged an entertaining long-driving exhibition. With balls flying mind-boggling distances–Allen even used a putter to hit a drive 277 yards off the tee—students “oohed” and “aahed” at the incredible sight and sound of the sheer force of Allen’s and Meti’s swings.
The PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship staged its own long-drive event during Thursday’s practice round, crowning Alyssa Clements, of Dayton, Ohio, a Sophomore at Savannah State University, and Logan Sessoms, a Freshman at Fayetteville (N.C.) State University, the Women’s and Men’s Long Drive winners, with drives of 277 yards and 335 yards, respectively.
The 2019 PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship will be held on the Wanamaker and Ryder Courses at PGA Golf Club, Fri.-Sun., May 10-12. For full coverage, scores and highlights, visit PGA.com.