Game Changers

Going With Plan E: A PGA WORKS Story

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PGA WORKS Fellow Harrison Bruns at PGA Frisco.

PGA WORKS Fellow Harrison Bruns at PGA Frisco.

For many of us, plans seem to change – often. We go through life moving down our to-do lists, agendas and notes until something stops us in our tracks. So we pivot, maybe even in a couple of different directions.  On other occasions, we have to shift more than we would like to admit to get where we want to be. For Harrison Bruns, he had all of his plans laid out – starting as a Biology major at Northern State University.
“I quickly realized after an internship at the local state park that it was not for me, so I ended up switching to Communications. I liked the idea that it was more flexible and you have a lot of fields that you can go into.”  
During his time at Northern State, Harrison seemed to do every activity under the sun. He served as a Resident Advisor, President of Campus Activities, Student Body President, a member of the speech and debate team – the list goes on. “I definitely kept myself busy and knew I wanted to stay involved during my time in undergrad.” After he graduated from Northern State, he took the LSAT and considered law school. After exploring more options, he received a graduate assistantship position as a Hall Director with Oklahoma State University. “Truly a full circle moment for me being a Resident Advisor with Northern State so it made a lot of sense.”
Harrison Bruns visiting the new home of the PGA.
Harrison Bruns visiting the new home of the PGA.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Harrison grew up playing baseball. “While I really keyed in on baseball, golf was always in the background as something I enjoyed doing with my dad.” In high school, Harrison worked in outside services at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville, Minnesota just outside of Minneapolis. Seemingly, golf always lingered around as Harrison continued his professional career.  
Fast forward, Harrison now serves as the PGA WORKS Fellow for the South Central PGA Section. As he sat with us during a recent visit to the new Home of the PGA of America in Frisco, he shared that golf wasn’t always his end game. “I’m basically on ‘Plan E’ right now and this is truly something that just fell in my lap, but I’m very lucky to have found it.” 
Harrison Bruns in front of the Home of PGA of America at PGA Frisco
Harrison Bruns in front of the Home of PGA of America at PGA Frisco
Harrison is currently wrapping up his Master's Degree in Communications at Oklahoma State University. This is where we pick up the conversation with Harrison during his visit.
Can you talk about how you discovered the PGA WORKS Fellowship and your journey so far?
HB: It’s really interesting to look back on how I got to where I am. I was submitting applications to a lot of different places and nothing really seemed to be panning out the way I wanted it to. Through my various searches online, I found out about the South Central PGA Section being located in Tulsa. I emailed the Executive Director, Brian Davis, and we met on a video call, one thing led to another and I found myself interning for the Section last summer.
Is that how you ended up moving into the PGA WORKS Fellowship?
HB:  Yes!  Actually, during my internship, I got to know Benji Vasquez really well, who was serving as the South Central Section’s PGA WORKS Fellow at the time. I was able to gain a better understanding of what the Fellowship entailed by being around Benji which was super great. Once I wrapped up my internship, I really didn’t think about coming back.  As I mentioned, the Fellowship was like a ‘Plan E’ for me – it wasn’t on my radar until Brian reached back out to me asking to return for the Fellowship. I’m so happy that I took it because I can’t imagine myself in a better place.  At the end of the day, I’m where I am because other doors had closed or opened and that’s okay. I like to think I got pretty lucky. 
Now that you have a few months under your belt with the Fellowship, do you see yourself staying in golf for your career?
HB:  It’s funny because when I first decided that I wanted to work in sports, I really keyed in on baseball. I grew up playing baseball and that was my main sport basically through high school. While I took to baseball, my dad and I played golf all the time.  I worked at a local country club for six years in high school and college so I feel like I’ve been around golf forever – it happens to be a space that I’m just really comfortable in. So I think I would love to stay in golf.
Do you think that comfort comes from your time working at the country club growing up in high school?
HB:  Absolutely. Working at Midland Hills was the best part-time experience and exposure I could have to the game.  I mean, you know, I’m just working in the bag room but the pros there were brilliant and great to work for.  It was so much better than working in fast food or working as a lifeguard – those typical jobs you work in high school. 
How have you seen yourself grow personally throughout the last few years – throughout your internship with the Section and now the Fellowship?
HB:  That’s a hard question. I say that because I think it’s tough for me to see but I know it’s happening. I actually hear more from my parents and the people closest to me about how I’ve changed. As I mentioned earlier, where I am now was not ‘Plan A,’ but I’ve been able to make those tough decisions that have set me up for success down the road – how to make the mature decision and not do something on impulse. A year ago I didn’t see myself where I am now, but at the same time, I’m thankful I didn’t choose what was most comfortable at the time because I think that’s how you grow as a person.
How do you think you have changed professionally?
HB:  In golf, you’re around new people all the time so this has definitely given me a new perspective on how I interact with others. When we host tournaments and events for our PGA Professionals, it’s important we make sure they feel welcomed and cared for. I’ve always had interpersonal skills, but working in golf has taken that to a new level. I’ve really seen an improvement in my ability to just talk to strangers. I think also my ability to focus on the little things has really improved. Attention to detail is so critical in golf, and in my role with the Section, it’s all about making sure we are taking care of our PGA Professionals.
Harrison Bruns overlooking the golf courses at PGA Frisco
Harrison Bruns overlooking the golf courses at PGA Frisco
What do you hope this next generation of young professionals gets right?
HB:  A lot of things. I think it’s been tough, especially in golf, to get over what seems like an astronomical generational gap. I think the younger generations are labeled as these groups who don’t have the best work ethic. I don’t really agree with this label because I’ve seen a lot of people around my age who had to live at the bottom of the barrel for a little while before they can reap the benefits – I think this is a truth that young people are very aware of and they are willing to put in that work. I hope this group of young professionals keeps heading in the direction that they are currently going. Acceptance and tolerance seem to be two things that young people get right, and these go a long way. I hope that doors continue to open for the young generation regardless of who they are, and once we get up to those higher-level positions this idea becomes the standard.
How do you define success?
HB:  I think success is incredibly personal. For me, I think success and happiness go hand in hand. If I can look at myself and say ‘I am happy where I am and what I’m doing,’ I feel like I can be successful. I don’t want to work in a job where I dread going to work every day, and you know what?  So far in golf, I have yet to find a job that I feels like this. As long as I’ve worked in golf I have always had a really positive outlook on my work. If I can look in the mirror and know that I am happy with myself, how I’m growing and the impact I’m making – this is all I can ask for and I know it’s where I’m supposed to be.

To learn more about the PGA WORKS Fellowship, please visit PGAREACH.org.
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