Volunteering Teaches Life Lessons

PGCC Logo 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. Part of doing “more” is volunteering. Going above-and-beyond to do whatever the task asks of you.

As all volunteers know, when you sign up to help out, it’s all-hands-on-deck and you never really know where you’re going to end up. Such was the case for Kody Idland, a Spring 2013 graduate from PGCC Temecula, who volunteered at the Kraft Nabisco Pro-Am and got an interesting assignment…caddying for none other than one of the original shock-rocker, Alice Cooper.

Kody was a couple of weeks from graduation when he opted to take one last chance to volunteer, in the midst of pre-graduation frenzy. “I knew that the Kraft Nabisco tournament was approaching and I missed out last year volunteering through PGCC and wanted to be sure to be involved this year.” Idland shared. Kody’s volunteer history with the golf college includes time at the Web.com tour stop for the Soboba Springs Classic, LPGA events like the Kia Classic, and PGA events, like the Humana Challenge. This lineup positioned him as a valuable asset when it came time to apply to the LPGA’s first Major. “I looked on their website and applied to volunteer. I provided my volunteer history while at PGCC, and they assigned me to work with the golf channel. I also applied to caddy through PGCC.”

PGCC LogoSome say you should never work for free, but when you’re starting out, what you get out of volunteering can significantly outweigh anything else you may have taken home. “Volunteering opened many doors for me and enabled me to make the right contacts and show my work ethic.” Idland continues, “At every tournament I’ve learned something new, whether it was working with scoring, set-up, registration, media, or being a caddy. I tried to get as much out of the experience as one could.”

Our Tournament Operations courses prepare students to handle every task a tournament can throw at them, the rest is up to them. Idland concluded, “PGCC was the fastest 16 months of my life, and I wish I would have volunteered more often.” Not to worry, though. Volunteering has, in some significant way, shaped where Idland will take his career. “I enjoyed meeting new people and doing new jobs, seeing the courses and facilities along with meeting some of the best golfers in the world. I plan to work in tournament operations and become a positive leader and mentor.”

PGCC LogoKevin Bourland, a senior at PGCC Temecula, also has post graduation plans on his mind, and as Kody mentioned, the 16 months spent here can fly by before you know it, which is why you have to act fast when opportunities arise. Bourland shares, “I came to be a volunteer at the Kraft Nabisco Pro-Am by an opportunity through PGCC, Gabe Codding the Operations Director of the Kraft Nabisco tournament came to the college to give a lecture on his success story in the golf industry.” Gabe Codding makes an annual pilgrimage to the golf college to share how he became Tournament Director of the Kraft Nabisco Championship…by volunteering. It’s a fascinating story, but that’s another article.

Bourland continues, “It was through coordination with Jack Gyves that I was given the opportunity. I have volunteered at two PGA Tour events and one LPGA Tour event.” Bourland’s responsibilities were straightforward in terms of the task at hand, but that’s not all he was doing. “I was able to apply a lot of different things that I have learned at PGCC while volunteering. One of the biggest things that I learned while attending PGCC is planting good seeds, which I learned in Doc's class freshman semester from a book titled ‘Seeds of Greatness’. By giving great first impressions it has allowed me other experiences and opportunities with the people I have networked with.”

PGCC LogoThat’s notable when you consider that often times people associate volunteering as signing-on to do everything nobody else wants to do. But that is obviously the wrong way to look at it. Students from any campus will tell you, one basic tenet at the golf college is this: Attitude is everything, and Kevin has the right idea. Bourland also shared, “Something that I learned while I was volunteering was how being more respectful towards the patrons at the Tour Events leads to great fan support. It’s all about the patrons. One volunteer told me that they go above and beyond to make sure that everyone is having a great time.”

Kevin’s enthusiasm is apparent, and you can tell that he loves the time he’s spent volunteering. “What I enjoyed the most was when I volunteered at the Final Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School, which was held at PGA West in La Quinta, California. I had the privilege of getting to announce players on the first tee and that was a great experience. Being able to shake hands and meet some of those guys was very humbling.”

So now that he’s a senior, what does he want to after graduation? “I plan to continue working towards becoming a PGA Class A member and my plans within the golf industry are to first become an Assistant Golf Professional and then from there get into more of Tournament Directing. Eventually, I would like to work in upper tier management for either Troon Golf or Club Corp. All of my volunteer jobs that I have done helped me gain more knowledge about all the planning it takes into putting on professional golf tournaments.”

Alumni Spotlight on Katrina Navarrete

Katrina Navarrete at PGCC Orlando Educating the future leaders in the world of golf; that is our goal, day in and day out. Nothing feels more rewarding than seeing our graduates succeed, and hearing that they really took our lessons to heart. Such is the case with Katrina Navarrete, a graduate from 2006, and a member of PGCC Orlando’s inaugural class. Now a buyer and merchandiser at a Top 100 Golf Shop, The Country Club at Castle Pines, it is clear that Navarrete has kept one major lesson foremost in her mind over the last seven years. “The most valuable lesson that PGCC taught me is not one of skill but of life,” Navarrete shares, “Have passion for what you do, work hard and be dedicated. Success is possible in golf but you must always strive to be the best, with honor and respect!”

Katrina has a major, even serious, love for golf, and she comes by it honestly. “My uncle Pete introduced my father, Tony, to golf, and a few months after that, my father introduced me to this wonderful sport. I started playing when I was 10 years old and 3 months later I won my first junior tournament. That’s when I fell in love!” After her win at that tournament, her father walked her to the first tee box and told her something astonishing. “My father said, ‘Did you know that you can do this for a living? The golf course one day could be your office.’ I stood there in amazement, I had no idea that one day I could make a career out of this sport that I was so in love with!” Obviously his word had an impact he may not have anticipated, given that Katrina cites this as the best advice her father ever gave her.

Katrina NavarreteAfter that first win, it all becomes a bit of a whirlwind of golf. Her family made a move to Colorado and she joined her high school’s varsity golf team as a freshman, then began competing in the Long Drivers of America (LDA) at 16, and went on to win the Junior World Long Drive Championship. After earning her LDA Women’s Open Division Tour card, she traveled with some legendary long drive tour players, and in 2005 she took a break from competition to join us in PGCC Orlando to focus on her career as a Merchandiser. “Orlando is the golf capital of the world,” she shares, “and being part of the PGCC Orlando campus gave me the opportunity to have amazing experiences that fine-tuned my career path in the golf industry.”

“I knew that golf was my passion but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to be part of the industry.” The golf college put Katrina in contact with Top 100 golf shop, Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, and she was hired as one of their Assistant Golf Professionals. “I had worked outside services but I had never had the opportunity to work inside of a shop. That’s when I realized that I love the merchandising side of the golf.” As is her custom, Katrina did everything she possibly could to learn about merchandising, and after two months, she was promoted to Assistant Buyer. “Grand Cypress was an instrumental tool in developing my career.”

Katrina NavarreteAfter Grand Cypress, came a move back home to Denver, and along with that move, came an offer for a position as Head Buyer at the Boulder Country Club, which further developed her professional skills, and prepared her for her current role. Now at the Country Club at Castle Pines, Katrina has the distinct honor of working with George Kahrhoff, PGA Golf Professional and 2012 National Merchandiser of the Year. This is far from a celebration of a happy ending to Katrina's golf success story, if only because she has a long and successful career in front of her.

“PGCC opened many doors, prepared me and gave me the fundamental tools to succeed in the golf industry.” Navarrete continues, “Being a Merchandiser gives me the opportunity to be creative. I often look at the golf shop as a canvas or a work of art. I look for collections that inspire me to create beautiful, different and innovative displays. It gives me a chance to think outside of the box and the possibilities are endless! That is by far the best part of my job!”

Welcome Summer 2013 Freshmen

PGCC Logo This is the first week of school for our Summer 2013 Freshman class and, while advice is traditionally offered as commencement is underway, it’s a good idea to offer a few words as students embark on their voyage because 16 months vanishes in the blink of an eye and we want our students to have the best shot at success that they can possibly have. One of the basic tenets at the Professional Golfers Career College is that “Attitude is Everything”, but what exactly does this mean?

Gary Gilleon, Admissions Director at PGCC Temecula, feels strongly that it means “There are different ways to measure success but there is always a direct link between input and output. Your level of effort will translate to your level of success anyway you define it.” Gilleon, who began his preparing for his second career as a student at the Professional Golfers Career College in 2009 following a 30 year career in the U.S. Navy, saw camaraderie as a major contributor to collective success. As one of the older students in his class, he made a habit out of looking out for other students. “Out of the strong camaraderie that develops in small groups, grows that desire to help each other. As an older guy in class class I always had my eye on younger students, wanting to help them. That’s why I love working here. I love sharing wisdom.”

Ultimately that is the aim of the Professional Golfers Career College; to share wisdom and resources. Gilleon continues, “I believe that here, at PGCC, defining success is learning is how to develop a ‘service mindset’. A great customer service attitude, which is being open, genuine and polite, translates into happy people.”

Spencer Callantine, Admissions Director at PGCC Hilton Head, graduated from the golf college in 2011 and arrived at the same conclusion; you get out what you put in. “Enjoy every second you have at PGCC because it will go so fast you won’t believe it, and take advantage of every opportunity to volunteer. The experiences you can have with the golf school will be mind blowing. I have worked with and volunteered for the LPGA, the Nationwide Tour, and ESPN. I can attest to the importance of affiliations with people and organizations like this in the golf industry.“

Beyond what our students get from PGCC, there’s also something to be said for what should be brought with them. Callantine continues, “I believe that most importantly, as a student, you should be prepared to absorb any and all information from the instructors; these are people who have gone through the very experiences that you are hoping to achieve someday.”

It’s no wonder that Gilleon and Callantine share the same sentiment about how to succeed; both studied under Jim ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson, PGCC Temecula’s Dean of Students, and a legendary fixture around campus. If you ask Wilkie what advice he has to offer to incoming freshmen, his words are simple and, unsurprisingly, similar to the aforementioned advice. “I want students to realize that this is their time to take advantage of all of the experience they have here.” Adding that “There are 24 hours in your day, and you’re only in class for four of those hours; take advantage, ask questions. The best players I’ve seen are the players who ask the most questions because they’re always learning something.”