Posts Tagged ‘golf club management’
Many kids dream of playing professional hockey and making it in the big leagues. They spend countless hours at the rink perfecting their skills, and for some of them, the hard work pays off. But what happens when injuries sideline a promising career?
James Sanford can tell you. Over the course of his 14-year career, he played in several leagues, including the American Hockey League, British Elite Ice Hockey League, Central Hockey League, ECHL, Federal Hockey League (winning a championship with the Danbury Whalers), Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey, and in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he played for the Victoriaville Tigres and his hometown team, the Moncton Wildcats. He was also a defenseman on Canada’s under 18 team 2002.
But his aspirations of playing in the NHL, seemingly so close to being realized, ended when he sustained a herniated disk in his neck and had to undergo extensive surgery. At that point, he returned home to New Brunswick.
“For the next two years I did dead-end jobs,” he recalled in a recent interview. “You live a certain lifestyle as a hockey player. It’s your whole life. You’re with the same 20 guys every day, so it takes a big adjustment to get acclimated to being back in the regular world.”
Realizing that he was going to have to return to school if he wanted to improve his career options, he decided to apply to the two-year Golf Club Management program at Holland College.
“I always thought that I would like to be a golf pro when I retired from hockey, and I had some friends who had gone through the program.”
The golf program gave him the kind of focus he hadn’t had since quitting hockey, but the adjustment wasn’t easy.
“As a hockey player, you get instant approval and gratification from the crowd; when you get out in the real world, you don’t get that very often.”
Jeff Donovan, James’s instructor for the last two years, said James overcame his reticence early on, and his confidence improved as he developed his skills.
“Sometimes it’s a little harder for people coming back to school when they’re a little older, especially if they have already had a career and are retraining; but James, who was 30 when he came into the program, settled in quite quickly.”
James graduated from the Golf Club Management program this spring and is working at the Bell Bay Golf Club in Baddeck, Cape Breton for the summer. Cape Breton’s golf courses are drawing international attention, making the region the fastest growing golf destination in the world.
“I’m the assistant pro, so I’m responsible for overseeing the golf academy’s programs and the pro shop. I teach, as well. I’m getting to use all the skills I learned in the Golf Club Management program in the day to day operations of Bell Bay. This year, we are hosting the MacKenzie Tour event. I’ll try to qualify, but even if I don’t, I’ll get first-hand experience as part of the organizing team.”
Eric Tobin, Pro at Bell Bay, said James was a natural choice for the golf club.
“I was very pleased when I saw James apply to be my assistant golf professional here at Bell Bay Golf Club. His background with professional sports is something that caught my eye early in my decision to bring him on board. His dedication to hockey in his past career was evident, and I am excited to see this transition to the golf industry. Holland College has given him the opportunity to step into a leadership role after only his second year. The education he has gained at Holland College made him an easy choice for this position. I am looking forward to a long relationship with James,” he said.
James will return to Holland College in the fall to take the one-year Professional Golf Management program.
Jeff Donovan said demand for graduates from the golf programs at Holland College has never been higher.
“This past year we could have placed each of our students three times over. There is a huge demand for young professionals in the golf industry. Employers are contacting the program and looking for graduates who are able to go to golf facilities and handle the day to day business demands and deliver the type of programming that will drive new membership and participation,” he said.
Golf Club Management student Gareth Lewis knew that he wanted to run his own business eventually, but a family tragedy changed his timeline drastically. Last year, his first at Holland College, the 18-year-old’s world was thrown into turmoil when his father died suddenly of a massive heart attack. That, for the young man from Saint John, New Brunswick, brought everything sharply into focus.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but when my father died, I realized that you should live while you can. I decided not to waste any more time,” he said in a recent interview. “I’d been developing the Just Swing Golf business plan for a couple of years, so I started my own company.”
In September of last year, as he prepared to return to Charlottetown to begin his second year in the Golf Club Management program, Gareth drew upon the money he had saved over the summer and began to develop a line of golf clothing.
It seems as though things fell into place for him quickly. He was awarded a Donald E.M. Glendenning Scholarship by the Holland College Foundation this year. The scholarship is awarded based on a student’s abilities in the areas of leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, and presentation skills, and provided seed funding for his business.
His vision for his company is simple.
“A lot of the big name brand golf shirts are loose fitting. My friends and I wanted something more tailored, that would look good both on and off the golf course,” he said. “I want to provide functional, stylish, reasonably priced clothing.”
Working with a designer and manufacturer, and drawing upon the knowledge he had acquired in his first year of business courses in the Golf Club Management program, Gareth prepared to roll out his product line. He has just received his second order of products, which are sold on his web site, and hopefully in pro shops around the region.
The products have developed an impressive following so far. Golf pros Brett Wilson and Eric Locke and provincial amateur champion Justin Shanks are all wearing them; and so are Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and Zack Phillips of the AHL Chicago Wolves.
This summer, Gareth will be an assistant pro at Riverside Country Club in Rothesay, New Brunswick, which is also going to carry his clothing line in the pro shop, giving him the perfect opportunity to receive feedback directly from his prospective customers.
In the fall, he’ll return to Holland College to take the one-year Professional Golf Management program, which focuses on developing students’ playing ability, honing their coaching skills, and providing them with the skills needed to perform the duties of a golf pro. It’s the first step on a path that will lead to membership in the Professional Golf Association of Canada, the national body that has gained international recognition for the rigour and quality of its training program.
Jeff Donovan, Holland College golf instructor and Class A professional with the association, says the Professional Golf Management program fulfills key criteria in the path to membership in the PGA of Canada.
“To become a member, applicants must have completed a three-year golf program. Our students complete the two-year Golf Club Management program, and then have the option of returning for the one-year Professional Golf Management program in order to fulfill that requirement,” he said.
When he graduates from the Professional Golf Management program next spring, Gareth intends to focus on becoming a member of the PGA of Canada, continuing to develop his product line, and launching a fundraising golf tournament in honour of his late father.
Imagine enrolling in a golf program in Prince Edward Island and three years later finding yourself standing on top of the world…or at least, standing on top of Mount Currie (alt. 8,000 ft.) teeing up to hit the longest drive of your life at Big Sky Golf and Country Club’s breathtakingly beautiful 19th Hole.
For almost a dozen students and graduates of Holland College’s Golf Club Management and Professional Golf Management programs, it’s no fantasy; it’s just the way they roll. They think it’s the ideal place to start their golfing careers and hone the skills and theory they learned at Holland College.
Woody Bishop, Golf Operations Manager and Golf Professional at Big Sky, graduated from Holland College in 2008. He says that his training prepared him well for the golf business.
“I would have to say that over 90 per cent of my daily duties would be related to the Golf curriculum at Holland College. Things such as inventory ordering, open to buy plan, merchandising, controlling inventory levels, financial statements, creating flow plans and budgets, sales projections, record keeping, staff training, customer service training, Jencess training, lesson plans, junior programs and the daily operations of the golf course are all part of my job description that would be definitely all related to courses I took at Holland College.”
Corry Butler, Woody Bishop’s classmate, agrees.
“The three years in the golf program really prepared me to be a well-rounded employee and a jack of all trades when it comes to day to day golf operations.”
Located in Pemberton, British Columbia, Big Sky is the kind of golf course that golf writers love to review. It’s been named One of Canada’s prestigious top twenty golf courses and Top 10 Places to Play in Canada by Golf Digest Magazine and one of the Top 100 Courses In Canada by Score Magazine. Last year alone, Big Sky received ranking in Rolex’s Top 1000 Golf Courses in the World and in the Top 36 Courses in Canada. For Patrick Boles, an intern who will be returning to Holland College to complete the second year of the Golf Club Management program, this is the kind of OJT students dream about.
“To be the best, you need to learn from the best,” he explains. “Holland College and Big Sky gave me that opportunity. Working at Big Sky is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Only a few women enrol for the college’s golf programs, although Program Coordinator Paul Murnaghan hopes that more will in the future. For women considering a career in the golf business, Murnaghan points to Professional Golf Management 2010 graduate Jess Norris, as an example. Norris, who also works at Big Sky, is thrilled with the training she received.
“I never imagined being so successful in the golf business,” she says. “I have Holland College and Big Sky to thank for that. Holland College laid the foundation and gave me the tools to be successful while Big Sky taught me to implement them and is helping me build my career in the golf industry.”
One wonders why so many of Holland College’s golf programs end up at the same place, so far from Prince Edward Island. The answer’s simple, according to Chris Wallace, General Manager of Big Sky.
“Holland College students have helped set our standards above and beyond in the golf business in western Canada. The students arrive well prepared to handle all the challenges that the golf business presents,” he says.
For more information about Holland College’s golf programs, contact Paul Murnaghan, Golf Program Coordinator, by e-mail at Holland College grads and interns hone their skills at Big Sky or by calling (902) 894-6823, or visit hollandcollege.com. For more information about Big Sky, visit bigskygolf.com.