Student Volunteers Play Pivotal Role at Humana Challenge

Humana Challenge Logo As a person who loves golf, you may or may not believe how often people are shocked to hear that a golf school exists. Once people get over the initial shock, inevitably the same question always follows…what do you do at a golf college? Well, the short answer is this: we educate the future leaders in the world of golf. The longer answer is that we live and breathe golf, working everyday to provide students with more than a comprehensive and engaging education; we also work to provide them with opportunities.

A thorough golf education stretches beyond the classroom; it even stretches beyond the golf course. A real golf education has to stretch all the way to the core of a student, and fundamentally enhance their knowledge and love of golf, and shape it into something deeper, something that encourages them want to learn and do more.In the case of these five students who went above and beyond their volunteer duties, we have done exactly that.

The Humana Challenge is more than one of the year's first tournaments. Kicking-off the west coast swing of the tour, the Humana Challenge is a notoriously fun and challenging Pro-Am, so when Dr. Jack Gyves approached a couple of students to volunteer, there was no hesitation. Senior Marshall Gerlach recalls “Jack Gyves came to the senior class and pulled a few of us into his office. He presented us with the opportunity, and I couldn't volunteer quickly enough.” The timing could not have been better for Gerlach, who spent a portion of the previous day discussing his desire to pursue a career in tournament operations with Randy Shannon, Director of Golf at PGCC Temecula.

Ty Heine, another senior who was approached to volunteer, mirrors the sentiment, sharing that “I enjoy volunteering with any tournaments that we have the opportunity to assist with.” The two are not strangers to offering up extra hands wherever they’re needed. While Gerlach was a sophomore, he recalls some very impactful volunteer opportunities, “I volunteered for the inaugural Veritas World Junior tournament at Industry Hills. It was a terrific week and really opened my eyes to the tournament operations side of the golf business. I also volunteered at Q school.”

Heine has numerous events under his belt as well; from tournaments at The Legends Golf Club, PGCC’s sister course, to the Wounded Warrior tournament in Hollywood, the Kraft Nabisco tournament, events for the SCPGA, junior clinics with Steve Adamiak, and the upcoming golf course owners and superintendents conference, it would appear that he’s spending more time juggling than golfing, but his persistence is admirable. As a senior with his eye on the future, Heine appears to be of the mind that the future is now, so there’s no time to waste. While studying at PGCC he’s been taking night classes to complete a business degree. “Upon completion, I would like to work for the PGA Tour running tournaments and events. This greatly influences my volunteer work, I try to assist with every tournament that I can.” There is a familiar ring to his story..

Marshall Gerlach, Humana Challenge VolunteerGerlach has his sights set on the tour also. “My aspirations are to eventually work for the PGA TOUR being involved in tournament operations. My other interest would be to work for the USGA as a rules official.” The more you talk with them the clearer it becomes why they are go-to guys for volunteering, Gerlach continues “I try to volunteer as much as I can because you just never know who you are going to meet, and what may ultimately interest you. I never thought about tournament operations before volunteering at Veritas, and until that point was still wondering what I wanted to do. Now thanks to volunteering I have a direction and goals.” And where is that direction pointing him? More school…for now. “I learned that to work for the PGA Tour you have to have a Bachelor’s degree so I am looking into heading back to school and getting my bachelors after I graduate PGCC, and I have applied for the AJGA traveling internship already. I want to travel and pursue my dream to work for the PGA TOUR.”

Ty and Marshall are capable of great things, but they were not a two man show. Joe Mentz, Kody Idland and Kevin Bourland, were all key members of the volunteer crew on different days, and they all turned out to be indispensable parts of a tournament. The flu wave that swept through the valley left Humana severely understaffed, but these five guys were not daunted. They shared duties of issuing walking scorer equipment, helping walking scorers comfortably mount equipment, ensuring that equipment worked properly, roving the golf course to assist walking scorers with any problems that may arise, learned on the fly how to repair equipment problems, break down and store equipment upon completion of the round, and assisting with any other task, as needed.

Being prepared to dive into any task as needed can be intimidating, but in those moments, these students rose to the occasion by remembering a lesson they learned in their Attitude and Motivation classes...always do whatever we can to be an asset. To inform the way he operated, Heine looked to the golden rule “I was able to apply just about everything that I learned in Mr. Wilkinson's class. His class has taught us how to treat others as we would like to be treated. His class has no doubt changed my life forever.” He continues “I’ve learned that the greatest way to meet new people and leave a lasting impression on them is through kindness and helpfulness. You can try as hard as you can to do other things, but these things are what people remember most about you.”

If that's true, and we believe it is, it seems like these five students left exactly the right type of impression on the Humana Challenge crew. An official with the tournament shared that “These young men were there to help us in any way we needed them. They were always smiling, courteous, and encouraging to everyone. They became part of our family, some of whom have been together over 10 years. They made us feel like they had always been with us.”