My PGA Journey: There Are Many Paths to a Career in the Golf Industry
By Beth Ann Nichols
Cameron Dinkins was in the process of finding an apartment in Orlando, Florida, when she picked up the phone. The 22-year-old, who grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., was set to start a new job as player development manager for the North Florida PGA Section.
Golf only recently came into Dinkins’ life. She was a cheerleader for 12 years and also played flag football and basketball, and as a journalism major at North Carolina A&T State University, Dinkins knew that she wanted to pursue a career in athletics. When she attended a job fair at Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute, the organized grad circled anything that would get her into sports.
Dinkins stopped by the PGA of America’s booth and ultimately became one of 11 PGA WORKS Fellows in 2020, working at the Gateway PGA Section in St. Louis. She then parlayed that experience into a full-time position in Orlando, where she’s excited to help make the game more accessible to all by working with the PGA Junior League, Youth on Course and PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) programs.
“A lot of people who aren’t members of country clubs don’t know that they can be part of golf," Dinkins said.
There are a number of entry points into the golf industry that students can look for, even those who, like Dinkins, have little experience with the game. The WORKS program is a strategic initiative by the PGA of America designed to diversify the golf industry’s workforce.
Jacob Coles predominantly played basketball growing up and added football and track in high school, throwing the shot put and discus. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in sports management and quickly fell in love with golf after becoming a PGA WORKS Fellow.
Coles, 23, finished the program in May 2020 and then accepted a full-time position with the Western New York PGA Section as foundation coordinator. He has since been promoted to operations coordinator and hopes to stay in the golf industry long-term, getting into the sponsor activation side of the business.
“The only way to get big benefits out of things,” said Coles, “is by taking chances.”
Chris Noble can barely remember a time when golf wasn’t at the center of his life. For the past three years, the former Holy Cross College golfer immersed himself back into high school golf as NHSGA Manager of NextGenGolf. With over 220,000 high school golfers competing nationally every year, 27-year-old Noble works hard to create an organized community for players and coaches.
“My high school golf days were some of the best days of my life,” Noble said.
In 2019, the first high school golf National Invitational had over 300 golfers from 43 states. This year’s event, held at Pinehurst Resort, is slated to have 560 participants.
NextGenGolf, however, isn’t limited to high school. There are jobs dedicated to growing Gen-Z golf, too.
Those looking to get a head start on finding their path in the golf industry might consider one of the 20 Professional Golf Management Programs across the country. Kendall Murphy was part of the third PGM class at UNLV, graduating in 2008. He went back to the program eight years ago and now serves as assistant director.
“My goal is to make us one of the most diverse programs that we have,” said Murphy, who was the only minority when he arrived in 2004. Minority students and women now make up 40 percent of the program.
PGM program participants graduate with a bachelor’s degree while receiving hands-on experience through a number of paid internships at public, private and resort courses. PGM grads have a variety of tracks to choose from including traditional areas such as teaching and coaching, golf operations and executive management, as well as a host of other avenues like golf media or manufacturing.
"Our students that come out,” said Murphy, “tend to know exactly what they want to do.”
PGA of America
Experts on the business and game of golf. The best coaching tips and latest golf news delivered straight to you. Sign Up to get the latest.