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PGA Golf Management: Meet One Of Penn State’s Smallest Majors

Penn State is filled with small and opportunistic majors: from medieval studies to toxicology, there’s something for everyone. That’s why this week, we explored a lesser-known major in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, specifically the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Golf Management option. With about 100 students enrolled in the program, it is one of Penn State’s smallest departments.

Brian Soule is a PGA professional and the assistant director of the PGA golf management program, and he explained some of the benefits of enrolling in the option. “When students graduate, they graduate with the Penn State degree that is nationally recognized, and within a month after graduation, they are elected to the PGA of America,” he said. Penn State is one of only 18 universities in the country with a recognized PGA golf management program, so students have practically endless opportunities after graduation.

The course load of a student enrolled in this curriculum is unique, but also rewarding in terms of gaining experience in the field. “Students must complete Penn State’s general education requirements,” Soule said. “The PGA of America also has its own educational program which students must complete over four years.” He went on to add that students must also complete a total of 16 months worth of internships before graduating.

While most college students put a lot of effort into looking for internships so they can gain experience, most don’t spend 16 months of their college careers actively interning. But for students in the program, it’s a dream come true. Internship opportunities are available from coast to coast and are offered on some of the most prestigious golf courses in America.

The career paths of graduates of the program are also as unique as the department itself. Soule explained one of the things many people think of when they hear PGA golf management is turfgrass management. However, PGA golf management is much more than just turfgrass.

“[The students] are running the business, daily check-ins, and operating tournaments,” Soule explained. Students have many different, flexible options of what to do after graduation — anything from business to sales to teaching. There are even research opportunities.”

If this major sounds like something for you, don’t go dusting off your clubs just yet. For students to be admitted into the major, they need to not only know how to play golf, but have to be relatively good at it. And it’s not just a one-time entrance to major test — before graduation, students must pass a playing ability test, of which the national average pass-rate is 20 percent. Though students are given more than one opportunity to take the test, it is extremely difficult. This past year however, Penn State’s passing rate was a staggering 40 percent, 20 points higher than the national average.

After taking a tour of the department offices, Soule took me to a golfer’s paradise: the Golf Teaching and Research Center. Equipped with the most advanced technology of any school in the nation, the center provides students advanced instruction and research opportunities generally only offered by major companies.

“We want to help students learn about all potential career opportunities in the golf industry, use the internship program to hone their skills, and prepare to be successful professionals in the industry and personally.”  The small program ensures students a fun and rewarding experience, as well as many opportunities in professional golf management. The Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management major operates, as Soule put it, “almost like its own social club, while also being an academic program and support system.”

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About the Author

Matt Coleman

Matt Coleman is a writer for Onward State. His hometown is North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, a little under an hour from Pittsburgh. He is a sophomore majoring in Natural Resource Engineering in Biological Engineering. Please e-mail questions and comments to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @cole_man2.

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