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Eric Young’s Irish Adventure

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Hands-on learning is an important component of all Holland College programs. By combining their classroom learning with skills development, students are able to enter the workforce prepared for the challenges of the job, making them much more attractive to employers than job applicants who have little or no practical experience.

For Eric Young, spending the summer between his first and second year of the Golf Management program on the job was more than a matter of course, it was a chance to travel and, as it turned out, to meet celebrities!

Eric is working at Old Head Golf Links, in Kinsale, Ireland, ranked The Most Spectacular Golf Course by Links magazine.

“I have wanted to visit Europe ever since I can remember,” he said. “On the first day of class, Paul Murnaghan [manager of Golf programs at Holland College] showed us pictures of past students on their internships all over the world. Old Head was one of the locations.

“Golf is a sport that is played pretty much all over the world, and I love to travel. Since I want to get as much experience out of this program as possible, I figured that starting my career in golf at such a world class course would open up great opportunities after I graduate.”

Sometimes, it’s not traveling that’s daunting; it’s making all of the necessary arrangements. Eric said Holland College helped with that.

“If it weren’t for the efforts of Susan Shaw, our college’s internship officer, I don’t think any of this could have happened for me,” he said.

The director of golf at Old Head, Danny Brassil, arranged Eric’s accommodations for him prior to his arrival. He’s staying in the home of the golf course’s accountant.

As a staff member in the Golf Services department, Eric’s duties vary from day to day. He could be working as a starter, a marshal, on range set up, greeting and checking golfers in as they arrive, assisting the director of golf tournaments, or on a variety of other tasks.

“On my days off, I also caddie, which is a great experience and an opportunity to meet people. I am glad Danny Brassil has me moving around all the various departments of the course, as it gives me a chance to learn about all the work that goes into running a golf club from day to day.

“The skills I learned from the Golf Management Program helped me a lot working here at Old Head. Having this internship program between the first and second year gives me a great opportunity to build on the skills I learned this past year in school. Learning the different methods they use to operate golf courses in Europe is knowledge I’ll be able to apply wherever I work.

“The game of golf over here in Ireland is much more difficult. With wind basically every day, and rain and fog most days of the week, there’s not much forgiveness on the golf course! Our caddies tell our North American customers, ‘You’ll add 5 or 6 strokes to your handicap when you play the Old Head’.”

Speaking of North American visitors, Eric met a couple of them recently: former president Bill Clinton and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback “Big Ben” Roethlisberger.

“The day Bill Clinton played Old Head I was assigned to drive around in a cart in front of the Clinton group with the head of Mr. Clinton’s secret service and his head of staff. When Mr. Clinton finished 18 and was heading back to his vehicle, they gave me the opportunity to meet with the former president before he left. I owe all of this to Jim O’Brien our course’s general manager. If he hadn’t assigned me to accompany Mr. Clinton’s staff, I don’t think this could have been possible.

“As for ‘Big Ben’, I was on the opening shift the following morning, and saw the last name ‘Roethlisberger’ on the tee time sheet. I thought it would be something if it really was the Steelers quarterback. Then the rain started, and I forgot all about it. About an hour before the tee time I was standing off to the side at the desk in the pro-shop and in walks the 6’5”, 240-lb Roethlisberger. I don’t think it hit me about who I met until I got home from work, because I was still shell-shocked from meeting Bill Clinton the day before!

“I would easily give my experience here at Old Head 10 out of 10. Having such great co-workers and friends to work with everyday makes going to work a great experience.”

Eric’s still got several weeks left of his internship before he returns to Prince Edward Island to complete the second year of his course. There’s no doubt that by the time he gets back, he’ll have some great stories to tell his classmates.

Written by Sara Underwood

July 12, 2012 at 10:37 am