Written by: Darius Davis
Alumnus, The First Tee of East Lake
At The First Tee, we make sure to tell our participants that if they want to work in the golf industry one day, there are a variety of careers that may appeal to them that don’t involve turning pro. A popular career option for our junior golfers is enrolling in one of the 19 PGA of America accredited golf course management programs.
We asked Darius Davis, alumnus from The First Tee of East Lake, who is currently enrolled in the PGA Professional Golf Management Program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), to find out more about this career path.
1) What interests you about golf course management?
The business side of the golf industry contains more of the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to successfully operate a PGA golf event. It also exemplifies how to succeed in a powerful private golf membership program. That’s what caught my attention. As a result, I decided major in Professional Golf Management and minor in business.
2) Did experiences at The First Tee influence you in deciding to pursue golf course management?
The First Tee was 100% responsible for my deciding to pursue golf course management. I joined The First Tee of East Lake (Atlanta, GA) after my father passed away when I was 12 years old. I was in need of guidance, wisdom and comfort, which my chapter family provided. Throughout my time as a participant, I learned life skills and golf skills which helped me embark on a path for a better and brighter future. As a result, I use the life and golf skills every day. I know that these skills will help me operate a successful golf facility or youth development golf program. After graduating with my PGM degree, I hope to go back to a chapter of The First Tee as a coach or executive director.
3) What was the ultimate factor in deciding to enroll in the PGM program at UMES?
The ultimate factor in deciding on the PGM career path took place my senior year of high school. After hitting the ceremonial tee shot to kick off the 2012 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club, I was presented with a special offer from Dr. Malachi Knowles, CEO and founder of the African American Collegiate & Youth Golfers Hall of Fame. I was offered a full scholarship (shortly after being inducted into the African American Collegiate & Youth Golfers Hall of Fame), to attend UMES and major in Professional Golf Management.
4) let’s talk internships.
I loved my internship at Wade Hampton Golf Club!
The PGA of America requires that all PGA Golf Management Program students complete at least 16 months of cooperative internships prior to graduation. A co-op internship means that I stop taking classes to work full-time. My internship has provided me with practical experience, such as learning about turf management, working in the pro shop, helping run tournaments, learning about scheduling, working in customer service and much more.
5) Do you have any advice for future alumni of The First Tee about pursuing a PGM degree?
I only have one piece of advice for a future alumni of The First Tee about pursuing a degree through the PGM program—make sure you have a passion to grow the game of golf!
Most people think majoring in PGM only offers a small amount of golf outlets in the industry. This is definitely not the case at all. While there are several hundred players making a living playing golf, there are more than 28,000 men and women who belong to the PGA of America. My (soon-to-be) fellow PGA professionals are head golf professionals at private, public or municipal golf courses, run golf courses, manage tournaments, run golf shops, manage customer’s golf outings, coaches at The First Tee and professional golf instructors.
Always keep your business options open because you never know what networking opportunities you can make while going through the PGM program.
6) Which life skill do you still use?
Ultimately, I use the Meet & Greet life skill the most because I come in contact with so many people on a day-to-day basis. Because of what I learned at The First Tee, I have a set foundation of the specific process of meeting and greeting. This includes: looking the person in the eye, a firm handshake, stating my name clearly and making a lasting first impression! Meeting and greeting goes such a long way in the golf industry.
7) Are you still connected to your chapter?
I am still very well connected to my chapter. I am constantly in contact with the chapter’s executive director, Nyre Williams, and Coach Jeff Dunovant (PGA Member/Head Pro at Charlie Yates Golf Course). I strive every day to have a successful future and set the footprints to follow throughout my program. I know there are hundreds of participants looking up to me from my chapter, from a role-model perspective, so I want them to recognize that “if I can make it/achieve, they can do it too”!
GREAT NEWS ALUMNI!
Beginning in 2017, Wade Hampton Golf Club will offer special consideration to PGM internship applicants who are alumni from The First Tee!