From the PGA
My PGA Journey: How to Find a Job in the Golf Industry
By Beth Ann Nichols
Chris Kulinski knew as a 16-year-old caddie that he wanted a career in the golf industry. When he worked the bag room at Transit Valley Country Club in East Amherst, New York, Kulinski dreamed of owning his own golf shop. By age 26, he was a head professional.
Now, as a Career Consultant and Recruitment Specialist for the PGA of America, 38-year-old Kulinski uses his hands-on experience to guide others toward their dream job.
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“I think it’s my passion to just help others out,” said Kulinski, who serves the Central, Northeast and Western New York PGA Sections.
There are 28,000 PGA Professionals who work in the $84 billion golf industry. A good first step for anyone looking to begin a career in the golf industry is to call one of the 21 Career Consultants who serve the 41 PGA Sections across the United States.
Kelly Gilley used the service both as a hiring manager and when looking for her own next step. A 23-year member of the PGA, Gilley transitioned into her role in Career Services because she too found her greatest joy in helping others progress in their careers.
“When we’re helping others,” said Gilley, “they know we’ve been in their shoes.”
The conversations – both with job seekers and those looking to hire – are personal because more information leads to a better fit. Even the job process is about relationships, much like the rest of the golf business.
Complimentary services such as resume building and interview preparations are available to PGA Members and non-members alike. Open positions are posted on the PGA’s Job Board.
“So many of us think of the industry as only made up of very traditional roles, a head pro or a teaching pro,” said Gilley. “There are so many more positions that make a facility successful.”
Non-traditional avenues to consider include membership sales, marketing, social media manager, fitness coach, food and beverage manager and tournament director.
As Kulinski notes, most private courses now have a social media manager role as it’s important to keep the club’s social channels relevant and updated. There are also numerous social media positions at the major tours (PGA Tour, LPGA) and associations (USGA, PGA of America) as well as at golf manufacturing companies like Callaway and Titleist.
When a fortysomething Tom Son decided to leave his successful career in the banking industry and move his family back to the United States from South Korea, he knew that making as many connections as possible in the golf world would be key.
“I knocked on people’s doors,” said Son. “I was kind of non stop persistent.”
Son graduated from a golf academy in 2017 with his PGA Membership already complete and quickly hit the ground running as General Manager of Arrowood Golf Course in Oceanside, California.
Now, as a board member in his local section, Son is working to expand a mentorship program he started in San Diego that’s designed to help associates progress in their careers.
Finding a mentor is near the top of Ken Ferrell’s must-do list for new hires. Ferrell’s 35 years in the golf business helps him to steer job seekers in the Southern California and Aloha Sections. His No. 1 piece of advice for those looking to start a new chapter: “Find an area in the industry in which you can’t stop thinking about, almost to an obsession.”
Those not enrolled in the PGA Golf Management University Program can seek PGA Membership through the Associate Program, which requires three levels to complete. Associates have up to nine years to finish the program, though it has been done in as little as 14 months. Gilley notes that some employers will help cover the PGA Education costs associated with becoming a Member.
“We know that the industry is huge and there are so many different career pathways, different things that they value,” said Gilley. “While I would love for everyone I talk to to become a PGA Member, I know there’s a spot in the industry for anybody who loves the game and loves to serve people.”
To learn more about a career in golf, visit here.