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Lutgert College of Business in the News


This is the text and photos from a story in the Fort Myers News-Press of March 31, 2014


The game of golf is all business at FGCU
College program prepares pros

Mar. 30, 2014 10:30 PM | news-press.com


FGCU golf program student Damon Kull gives a lesson in swing to Tracey Jackson, an executive secretary in the department. / DICK HOGAN/THE NEWS-PRESS

Becoming a golf pro has always been a super-competitive, grueling endeavor - now universities are offering golf as a major.

College degree or not, being the highly paid pro at a good golf club is still a little like hitting a hole in one: a formidable accomplishment by even the most talented.

But a degree in the field can improve the odds, say both academics and golf pros themselves.

Students say they're aware it's a long shot but that they're willing to take the chance for one reason.

"I just love every aspect of the game," said Damon Kull, 21, who's three years into the four-and-a-half-year program at Florida Gulf Coast University.

He describes without hesitation his ultimate career goal: "Director of golf at a Top 100 facility."

But he knows that will not be a job offer when he graduates next year: "You're probably 45 or 50" if the job offer ever comes.

Harry Leonard, president of H&L Golf Course Management in Brick, N.J., is in the process of expanding his business - which manages and designs golf courses - to Southwest Florida. Colleges are a major source of employees, he said. "We hire quite a few people right from Rutgers."

Still, Leonard said, "It's a very, very competitive business. You have to find the people who were able to weather the last five, six years."


Kull teaches the fine art of putting to Jackson.

Tara McKenna, head of the PGA Golf Management program at FGCU, said students there get courses designed to help them break into golf in some capacity and work their way up.

Subjects include the more practical fields of turfgrass management, merchandising, accounting and the basics of business, she said.

Not all the services a golf course provides are self-evident, McKenna said: Custom fitting a golf club to the golfer, for example, has more science than art these days. By the time they're finished, she said, they "can break down, destroy and reassemble a golf club."

Rich Lamb, director of golf at city-owned Fort Myers Country Club and Eastwood Golf Course since the late 1970s, said college-level golf programs offer worthwhile skills but that "I do not think it's going to ensure that these guys and gals go through the whole four years and then get a job."

For one thing, he said, "It's a tough time to crack the golf business. Not many new golf courses have been built in the last 10 years."

Those who do will find that even the top people at a course will often find themselves washing down golf carts or picking up balls on the driving range, Lamb said.

According to the PGA of America's 2010 compensation survey, PGA members who are head golf professionals made a median $68,000, and assistant pros made a median of $37,000.

Lamb said a pro who wants to move up in the field should expect to start low and move up by relocating often.

Students don't necessarily take the hard cold facts into account when they set out to become golf pros, however.

Avid golfer Troy Kyle, 46, of Naples, is a student in FGCU's program.

"I would love to teach," said Kyle, who retired after a career in the Army. He's not looking to participate in the rat race of becoming a head pro. "My dream is to play on the senior tour."


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