The golf industry is vast and holds a variety of careers everywhere from the local to international level. Whether it is working at a local golf club or becoming an executive in the corporate world for a company like Cleveland Golf and Srixon, there are opportunities out there for anyone looking to get a job in golf. If the golf industry is something that interests you, you can find a track to start a career.
A great place to start a career in golf is at the local level. Working at a local country club or golf course gives you on-the-ground experience and exposure to how courses and the industry work. Whether it is caddying (the ultimate job for college golfers) or working in a golf shop, your first experience in the industry will be invaluable to you in more ways than one.
Many choose to stay at the local level throughout their careers. There are a plethora of great management positions at country clubs and golf clubs, ranging from General Managers to Food and Beverage Directors. There are entire organizations such as the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) for example, that exist to support managers at clubs across the country. CMAA is a non-profit that supports the managers of private clubs. The Association also holds educational conferences, provides classes to managers to help them achieve certifications and provides scholarships to those who wish to expand their education. CMAA has 45 chapters across the country, and also has numerous student chapters in universities nationwide. Thousands of people across the country have found rewarding, lifelong careers in the management of clubs. In addition to its own club management industry, the CMAA supports numerous organizations in the golf industry, including Golf 20/20, The First Tee, and others, to continue their missions of expanding the game.
You do not have to play like the pros you see on television to become a PGA Professional. There are schools across the country, such as Clemson and Coastal Carolina to name a few, that offer Professional Golf Management (PGM) as a major. Even if you are not in one of these schools, you can still become a professional by studying and taking a test with the PGA.
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If you are not interested at working at a club, but are still interested in the golf industry, another option is to look at the corporate industry. There are over 150 State and Regional Golf Associations. Further, there are dozens of national golf associations, and all of them have positions to be filled. The United States Golf Association (USGA), for example, is one of the largest. Besides the national organization, the USGA is broken down by state. Every state in the country falls under some form of state golf association that answers to the USGA. They offer a variety of services from the running of tournaments to administering handicaps and course rating criteria. Golf Associations are a great place to work if you are looking to work in the golf industry beyond the local level, particularly if you enjoy running tournaments and managing large memberships.
In addition to golf’s corporate industry, there are golf tours, such as the American Junior Golf Association, that hold tournaments across the country for junior golfers, as well as the International Junior Golf Tour, which does the same internationally. Organizations like these operate to expand the game to youth, and provide competitive tournaments for highly skilled junior players.
If you are looking for a way to give back to the community while still working in the golf industry, there are many options available. There are numerous non-profits in the industry that have missions to support a wide variety of causes, ranging from youth to military veterans. The First Tee's mission, for example, is to impact the lives of young people through the game of golf. They hold classes, lessons, and competitions for young people to provide them with life skills and instill in them the core values that golf can teach us. Tee It Up for the Troops is another non-profit organization that holds golf tournaments across the country to support military veterans and their families. In addition to fundraising through the tournaments, they use golf to help veterans fight some of the issues that may plague them such as PTSD. There are many ways to give back to the community through the game of golf, and it is not difficult to get involved with organizations that do just that.
For those Millennial golfers who are passionate about the game, they need no convincing. They will play the game for the rest of their lives, and maybe even decide to pursue a career in the industry. There are careers out there, from the corporate to instruction, for anyone looking to have a golf career.
The numbers show, however, that the game of golf has diminished over the past 15 years. Could it be due to the recession? Or perhaps it is due to golf’s barriers to entry, like cost and difficulty. Whatever the case, one fact is undeniable: the more golfers there are in the world, the stronger the game is. So, if we want the golf industry to continue to be strong, and have the career options that exist in the industry, we are charged with joining organizations such as Golf 20/20 and Nextgengolf that are working to lower the barrier to entry.
**Bob Bonney is a senior at the College of William & Mary where he is a leading member of the school’s club golf team and is also a scratch golfer.