The PGM Intern Conference: From Pizza & Soda at Merion to a Game-Changing Career Event for Future PGA Members
By Kayla Gutierrez
(Brian McShalley/Union League)
It started simple and lowkey: pizza and soda in a Merion Golf Club maintenance room 13 years ago.
Now, the PGM Intern Conference is one of the most anticipated events for PGA Golf Management University Program students nationwide each summer.
PGA Member Brian Soulé, the Assistant Director of Penn State University's PGA Golf Managment program, founded the conference concept alongside his colleague Brian Dobak in 2011. The original vision for the PGM Intern Conference was to give students from PGM schools an opportunity to meet each other, share insights, and learn from industry-leading PGA Professionals.
“We had always talked about something we could do in the area to give back to the industry," remembers Soulé. "My good friend Brian Dobak had the idea of creating a way for interns who might be interested in getting together, meeting, and sharing some information with each other.
"At the time, early on in this event, we would just sit there and do a round table with some prompts to offer information and learn from each other.”
Early on in the process, Dobak invited Reed Lansinger, the PGA Director of Golf at Canoe Brook Country Club in New Jersey, to take on his position and work with Soulé to continue to strengthen the event each year.
At its core, the PGM Intern Conference's main purpose is to create connection opportunities for students, enable them to build relationships and provide a particular set of education segments for them to learn. The event has a different theme each year, featuring unique presentations from PGA Professionals sharing their own knowledge, expertise and experiences in the workforce.
Another event goal is to highlight one of the world-class facilities in the Northeast. The conference has been hosted at various well-known facilities, including Baltustrol, Aronimink, Ridgewood, Saucon Valley, Somerset Hills and Plainfield.
“In 2016, we hosted the event at Baltimore Country Club, and that was the first time we added a round of golf," recalls Soulé. "Then, that became the thing, and now every year, we play a round of golf either in the morning or afternoon, and the students get to enjoy some time together on the course."
Over the years, the PGM Intern Conference has grown into something special that students and local PGA Professionals look forward to each year. It’s Soulé and Lansinger’s mission to make each year’s event better than the last, and now it’s bigger than ever.
This year’s 11th annual PGM Intern Conference was held at Union League Liberty Hill in Philadelphia, hosting a record 41 students representing ten different PGA Golf Management University Programs — the most ever since 2011.
The day included a golf competition in the morning, where students were paired randomly with students from other universities and one industry representative. The event was followed by an educational session at lunch and brief presentations from Union League Liberty Hill General Manager Sean Palmer, PGA, Golf Genius Representative Greg Stark, Philadelphia PGA Section Executive Director Geoffrey Surrette, PGA, PGA Career Consultant Joe Doughty, PGA, and PGA Recruitment Specialist Leila Macke.
The event’s theme was Teaching & Coaching, with remarkable golf instruction and coaching workshops with Nick Iacano, the PGA Lead Golf Instructor at Merion Golf Club, and Danny Murphy, PGA, of Five Iron Golf.
“I saw an opportunity to do something that gave everyone a day to look forward to," says Soulé. "As an event of camaraderie and fun, I hope that the students can take something away from the day beyond the network that they grow, learn a little something, or maybe even gain an opportunity to apply for a job out of that experience. It’s beyond gratifying to me when I hear those stories.”