Sights & Sounds From the 2024 PGA Show, PGA WORKS Edition
By Hayden Lewis, PGA
For many, the PGA Show signals the unofficial start of a new golf season. It’s a beacon for golf professionals, experts, fans, and friends of the game to gather and celebrate golf for what it is and where it is headed. It’s a chance to be together again, create new memories and forge new paths. For twenty-two PGA WORKS Fellows – each representing their own PGA of America Section Office and other golf bodies, such as the Advocates Professional Golf Association (APGA). This week brought a unique point of view to the industry – it was groundbreaking.
Funded by the PGA of America REACH Foundation, the PGA WORKS Fellowship is a one-year, paid opportunity to work in a PGA of America Section’s operations. This entry-level employment experience offers a glimpse of what a career in the golf industry can provide. As part of the year-long Fellowship with a PGA Section, the young professionals earn the opportunity to immerse themselves deeper into what the industry has to offer by attending this past week’s 71st PGA Show in Orlando.
Below are a few sights and sounds from a sensational week where golf, once again, took center stage along the path to new opportunities.
On Wednesday, the Fellows arrived with wide eyes and ready to take on the golf industry’s largest rallying point of the year. In 2024, the PGA Show boasted record-breaking participation of leaders and PGA of America Golf Professionals from all corners of the globe. The buzz that filled the Orange County Convention Center was undeniable.
One of the biggest ways the Fellows were able to gain inspiration was from the impactful panels they attended throughout the week. The PGA Show hosted over 20 special events and all-star panelists on the Industry Stage, Presented by CapTech. The Fellows gained unique perspectives from some of golf’s most influential faces, including visits from the C-Suite of the PGA of America to influencers like Roger Steele and Will Lowery.
“Being a PGA WORKS Fellow has given me purpose,” says Paige Kopczyk of the Michigan PGA Section. “When I graduated college, it was a little scary entering the workforce, but in my role as a Fellow, I feel like I’ve proven to myself and others that women and minorities do belong in golf and are extraordinary. It’s just an honor being here at the PGA Show representing the Michigan Section.”
Taking it all in stride, the Fellows quickly formed connections and discovered growth opportunities for perhaps future career aspirations. One of the most powerful moments throughout the week occurred in full-circle fashion, when PGA WORKS Fellowship alumni Benjamin Vasquez, Danielle Monas, Rachel Nowak, and Ximena Davila, among others, all got together with the current class to network and give insight into their experience as Fellows. The network of PGA WORKS Fellows continues to spread far and wide with over thirty current or former Fellows in attendance for the session.
On Thursday, Fellows started their morning with a quick meet and greet alongside PGA of America Chief Operating Officer, Craig Kessler, who shared wisdom from his own journey within golf. Still on a high from day one, the Fellows were eager to dive head-first into a second full day experiencing what the PGA Show had to offer.
Next, it was time to hit the Show Floor – over nine-hundred exhibitors made their way to Orlando to showcase their products to the golf world. The Fellows went on a tour paying visits to household brands like Callaway, FootJoy, and Ralph Lauren to name a few – all while building their network. The Show Floor holds a certain aura that magnifies what it means to be a part of golf. Every corner, walkway and booth leaves one saying, “wow.” With over seven million square feet to walk within Orange County Convention Center, there’s no choice but to take it all in.
“My mission is to bring diversity into sports for people who may not look like myself,” says Precious Jackson from the Gateway PGA Section. “Getting to do this through the PGA WORKS Fellowship is important for me because I feel like I’m expanding my horizons and becoming who I was destined to be. I’m really looking forward to taking my experience this week at the PGA Show and using it as a springboard to further my career.”
Finally, the Fellows wrapped up their time at the PGA Show on Thursday with a speed networking session alongside representatives from top companies and brands including GOLFTEC, Club Car, WRK, Adidas, PGA of America Career Services, The First Tee and PGA of America REACH Foundation National Trustee, Dr. Lamell McMorris. The lasting conversations were both inspiring and invaluable, leaving an indelible mark on the Fellows and their promising careers.
It was a special week in Orlando at the 71st PGA Show and, for these twenty-two future leaders, a momentous stepping stone to their careers and journeys in golf and beyond. PGA WORKS continues to showcase the narrative of opportunity on countless levels – instilling a sense of hope for the future of golf. This group is surely leaving Orlando inspired and energized. No matter where their careers may take them, it’s clear there will be a wake of success following them every step of the way.
To learn more about the PGA WORKS Fellowship, click here.