From the PGA
My PGA Journey: It’s Never Too Late for a Career Change to the Golf Industry
By Beth Ann Nichols
Major League Baseball pitchers generally show up early to spring training, leaving plenty of time in the afternoon to work on their golf games. Frustrated with mid-to-high scores in the 90s, Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Lollar decided he was either going to get better in a hurry or quit. The self-taught player began grinding through large buckets on the range in Winter Haven, Florida, and quickly dropped his scores into the 70s.
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When his time with the Red Sox came to an end in 1986 – “hitters always tell you when to leave” – Lollar decided to transition into the golf industry as a second career.
He enrolled in a golf academy in San Diego, and shortly before his fourth semester there, the head pro at his home course, Breckenridge Golf Club, called to offer him a job as an assistant. Lollar worked to fulfill the requirements of PGA membership and in the spring of 1996 was hired at Lakewood Country Club, a Donald Ross design in Colorado, where he fluctuated between head pro and director of golf positions for two decades, before retiring in 2017.
Lollar helped lead the Padres to the World Series in 1984, but he found his second act in golf equally rewarding.
“You have to be truly dedicated to wanting to help people,” he said.
There are scores of people who enter the golf industry every year looking to marry their passion with a career. Marvol Barnard wasn’t really looking for a new passion or a new career when she first picked up a golf club in 1996 at age 38.
But sparks quickly turned into a blaze of success.
For most of the year Barnard lived with her husband, Sam, on a boat in Alaska name
“Princess.” The couple owned a commercial fishing business and would escape during the winter to Green Valley, Arizona, where Marvol, a former college basketball player, rediscovered her athletic identity on a golf course.
“When I swung the golf club and had some success,” said Barnard, “I was like, ‘I’m back!’”
Marvol practiced so much at her local course that the head pro suggested she go to work in the pro shop, so she did. In 2006, Marvol became a Class A LPGA teaching professional and in 2007 she earned Class A PGA membership. She’s now Director of Instruction at Haven Golf Course in Green Valley and the LPGA Professionals National President. In 2018, Marvol won the PGA National Player Development Award.
Her favorite part of the job is watching strangers meet during a golf lesson and becoming fast friends and travel partners.
“I love to be the pied piper that helps put that together,” she said.
The PGA of America’s Associate Program allows individuals to progress through its three levels at their own pace – it’s been done in as little as 14 months or as much as nine years (the maximum time allowed).
When it comes to looking for that first step, the PGA of America’s Job Board makes it possible for members and future members to see opportunities that are available throughout the country. In recent months, there were as many as 1,200 jobs on the board at once.
In addition, PGA Career Consultants are on hand for anyone to help navigate the process. Want to learn how to land a job at Pebble Beach Resorts or TopGolf? A Career Consultant can light the way.
Other resources include the My PGA Journey app, designed to help users match their soft skills and interests with both traditional and non-traditional career paths in the industry. They can also access on-demand advice from mentors who are eager to share their personal stories.
Trillium Rose, director of instruction at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, is one of nine My PGA Journey mentors.
“There’s no one way to get from where I started to where I am now,” said Rose who played lacrosse in college. “There are a lot of different options, and I think it’s super helpful to have that clarity.”
Charlotta Sorenstam competed alongside her sister, Annika, on the LPGA, winning once, and representing Europe in the Solheim Cup. She started work on her PGA membership 18 months ago and now works as an instructor at the IMG Academy. Last October, Charlotta helped launch My Time For Golf, an online instruction site by women for women.“
You could definitely say that I’ve had different twists in my career,” said Sorenstam, who after three back surgeries is partially paralyzed in her left leg from the knee down.
In this chapter of Sorenstam’s career, her passion for the game has shifted to helping others – from young phenoms to adult beginners – realize their own dreams.