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My story originally appears on PGA.com on 7/22/22
I am a PGA of America Professional. I am one of nearly 28,000 Members and Associates that are tasked with making the game great for those that play or enjoy being around it.
All I ever wanted to be, beginning at the age of 14, was a PGA Member. After graduating from college with a degree in golf course operations in May of 1996, I moved to Florida from upstate New York to start my career and pursuit of PGA Membership.
In 2009, after completing the PGA’s Professional Golf Management (PGM) Program, at the age of 34, I fulfilled my childhood dream by becoming a PGA Member.
This year will mark 13 years as a PGA Member for me…working in this industry is a dream that started for me in 1991 with my first job, as a high schooler, at my hometown course in Norwich, New York at Canasawacta Country Club. Under the direction of PGA Life Member, Fred Zahner, I found myself absolutely in awe of the idea of doing everything that a PGA Professional did. I would look through Fred’s PGA Teaching Manual and would rummage through all the manufacturers product catalogs and confidential price sheets. I was hooked from an early age and had a pretty in depth understanding of what it meant to be a PGA Member and wear all the hats that a Club Professional had to wear.
For the last 30 years, all I’ve ever done, from a work standpoint, and education standpoint, has been golf related. It hasn’t always been easy…far from it at times, but I’ve always been determined to be the best I could be no matter what and no matter where the journey was going to take me.
Over the past 15 to 16 years, I have found my true passion, which is Coaching and Teaching. Not just Coaching youth to learn and achieve from a playing standpoint, but also inspiring those that want to pursue golf as a career. I’ve also grown very fond of mentoring folks not just in golf but also in life. Many PGA Members find themselves in that position of mentorship.
Although my career direction within the industry, as a PGA Member, has changed over the years, I have always had a desire to help others enjoy the game as much as possible. From Assistant Professional to Head Professional /General Manager, to an Instructor and Coach, and even more recently as a writer, I have been blessed to be able to share my passion with others that share my love of the game.
I was lucky when I was young and had a clear picture of what the limitless opportunities were within the golf industry. I know that although I was a fairly decent golfer, I certainly was not one that was going to get a full ride to a top college or was going to play professionally. In my mind, that was perfectly fine, as I knew the opportunities that still existed. As a Coach of teen golfers today, I have found that many do not know what is possible with a career in golf. Beyond having to excel at playing, many do not know the vast opportunities that are available.
Recently, I set up a Zoom meeting for two of my high school golfers and their parents with PGA and LPGA Professional Tara McKenna, Director of the PGM Program at Florida Gulf Coast. FGCU is just one of 17 PGA PGM University programs. If college is not your avenue of choice and going straight into the industry is what makes more sense, you can do the PGA PGM program through a self-directed option.
It was certainly a thrill for me to be able to open a world of opportunities for these two young men that love the game as much as I did at that age.
I have been blessed to have made a career in the game, and to have reached my goal of becoming a PGA Member many years ago. To be able to pass this on to others, that may have an interest in doing the same, has not only been fulfilling but something that I feel obligated to do… both for those that may want to pursue it, and for the industry itself as well.