From the PGA
Beyond the Green Set to Educate & Inspire Players at the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship
By George Willis
Attendees ask questions during the PGA Works Beyond the Green for the 2020 Ryder Cup.
There’s a lingering misconception someone needs to be a pretty good golfer to find a fruitful career in the golf industry. Whether you’re a player, teacher, equipment manufacturer or golf shop manager, owning a low handicap is viewed as a benefit if not a prerequisite.
PGA WORKS Program Lead Rachel Melendez-Mabee is trying to “debunk” those notions and invite the next generation of job seekers to consider a career that connects with golf. A 2016 study commissioned by the World Golf Foundation indicated the golf industry produced $84.1 billion in economic activity and still maintains a strong forecast.
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“We talk about our $84 billion industry,” Melendez-Mabee said, “that translates into a lot of jobs in a lot of different areas.”
PGA WORKS Beyond the Green, held Sunday at the Comcast Technology Center, is a one-day event that precedes the 2022 PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship in Philadelphia, and introduces the vast businesses and income opportunities related to golf and beyond. The target audience are the 202 student golfers from HBCUs and minority-serving institutions competing in the 54-hole stroke-play tournament, and close to 150 high school and college-age minority students from the Philadelphia area.
The Union League of Philadelphia, along with the Philadelphia PGA Section and Comcast NBCUniversal, helped identify the high school and college-age students who could benefit from the event.
"The majority of people at this tournament have an interest in a career within the golf industry," PWCC Director Scooter Clark said. "It's just getting the student-athletes to understand that these opportunities do exist and they don't have to start working at a golf shop. There are all these other opportunities to pursue within the industry."
Beyond the Green offers an educational element to the annual competition. Sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, the PGA of America and the Union League, it features workshops, panel discussions, testimonies and other informal opportunities for those in attendance to learn about career opportunities in the golf industry.
“We are very focused on engaging the unengaged and tapping into diverse communities to present golf as an opportunity that they otherwise might not have seen,” Melendez-Mabee said. “We want to cast a wide net, invite our kids into the industry and then start to tailor them into areas where they have an interest.”
Celebrities, influencers, vendors, business leaders, experts in fashion and finance as well as PGA of America Members and executives will share their experiences. People in merchandising, operations, media, marketing and concessions will also be on hand.
After a virtual Beyond the Green event for the 2021 PGA Championship, an in-person event held during Ryder Cup Week at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin last fall, where Melendez-Mabee said she pushed normal boundaries to make the event more diverse and cultural. One of the exhibits involved an elaborate sneaker display and among the speakers was a popular DJ.
“We brought in folks who weren’t always traditional to golf to talk about golf and their affiliation to the game,” Melendez-Mabee said. “We’ve tried to bring a cultural narrative that speaks to our audience.”
Attracting youth to the golf industry is important due to advances in technology and the influence of social media, areas where golf and the PGA of America need to stay competitive.
“We’re here to make impactful systemic changes,” Melendez-Mabee said. “We have to engage the youth and get them interested and let our kids know and our communities know that there is a place for them in this industry. Then we can thrive on their expertise. … To tap into that knowledge and intellect and expertise, we have to get them in the door first.”