Faculty Spotlight on Clyde Johnston

PGCC Logo Clyde Johnston’s pedigree in golf is extensive; after all, not everybody can say that their father helped launch the career of one of the greatest golfers the game has ever seen. Before his father, C.B. “Johnny” Johnston, became a PGA professional, he was the first golf coach at Wake Forest College (WFC). Johnny left in the middle of his college career at WFC to serve his country in the Air Force during WWII. After he returned, he assumed the role of golf coach during his senior year, and when he graduated in 1947, he stayed on as coach and Assistant Athletic Director.

Perhaps the only person in history to successfully convince a football coach to give up one of his scholarships, Johnny began recruiting good golfers to WFC. His search led him to Buddy Worsham, whom he selected to receive the scholarship. Worsham accepted on the condition that WFC give his best friend a scholarship, too. If Worsham’s best friend was anybody else, this would be a rather pointless story, but, as luck would have it, Worsham’s best friend was Arnold Palmer.

Johnston recalls a spectacular childhood memory, “One evening when I was about 10 or 11 years old, my Dad told me I needed to be home the next day at a certain time. He was having a guest over and he wanted me to meet him. I arrived at the appointed time to find out the guest was Arnold Palmer, who by that time had already won 2 Masters Tournaments. I think that was the moment I began to love golf.”

PGCC Logo Would it be fair to say that without that fateful one-for-one scholarship, the world may have never known Arnold Palmer? We’ll never know. But what we do know is this: Johnny was a PGA pro in the Carolinas Section for about 30 years, and he had a hand in shaping the last century of golf by helping two golf greats get their start: Arnold Palmer, and Johnny’s son, golf course designer Clyde Johnston.

As the Golf Course Design instructor at PGCC Hilton Head, Johnston, a Houston native, has carried on a tradition of golf in his family that started long, long ago. “I basically grew up in golf. My father was a PGA golf professional, so I started playing golf when I was very young.” While Johnston played competitively in junior golf, high school, and even his first year of college, playing golf professionally did not call to him, not the way design did. Johnston shares, “My father dabbled in golf course design. He designed about six courses in his ‘amateur’ design career, and it was through those efforts that I became interested in golf course design.”

The way many sons decide early on that they want to be “just like Dad,” Clyde observed his father at the drafting table and was fascinated. “He had a drafting table in the basement and I would go down and watch what he was doing. He taught me all about topography, reading maps, drawing, and golf course design strategy.” Johnston continues, “One night when I was about 13 years old, he was working on a layout and he looked up at me and said ‘You know, you can make a living designing golf courses.’ My jaw dropped – it had never occurred to me but I was immediately smitten with the idea and decided on the spot that was what I wanted to do in life.” And that was it; Johnny called around to some architects he knew and inquired about what a young person would need to do and study to get into golf course design. The results were basically unanimous: work on golf course maintenance crews, get some construction experience, and get a degree in Landscape Architecture.

PGCC Logo Johnston began working in the golf design industry in 1973 as a summer intern for golf course architect Willard Byrd out of Atlanta, Georgia, and then returned as a full time employee the following year. Along the way, he spent time working with the likes of Gary Player and Ron Kirby, but eventually returned to Mr. Byrd’s office after a few years. “This is my 40th year in the golf course design business. I formed my own company in March of 1987 to provide golf course design services in the Southeastern United States. In total I’ve worked on over 120 golf course designs (new designs and renovations) with my own firm and working for other golf course architects.” He earned his Bachelor Degree in Environmental Design and Landscape Architecture and, in his words, “The rest of what I know about golf course design, I attribute to my father’s teaching, apprenticing for Willard Byrd for 13 years, and my own research and studies on golf course design.”

Still after so many years, he’s not tired of any of it. Johnston, who was President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) from 2003-2004, is celebrating his 40th year in the design industry, and 4th year as a Golf Course Design instructor at PGCC. After joining PGCC in the spring of 2009, he’s had his share of gratifying moments. One stands out in particular: “My proudest moment as an instructor was when a student told me that after taking my class, he looks at golf holes when he’s playing golf in an entirely different manner in that he understands more about golf course design.”

PGCC Logo After 40 years, he’s picked up a thing or two about the design business and, while he’s very proud of the work he’s done, Johnston is quick to share the accolades. “It takes more than one person to make a golf course successful,” he says. “You have to have good land, a great client, a good builder, a good budget and finally a good golf course superintendent with a good operations budget.” Johnston continues, “I’m proud of all of my projects and designs so it’s hard to pick one that I’m most proud of. It’s almost like they are my children and it would not be fair to favor one over another. Although I have designed a few difficult golf courses, I prefer to design courses that are fun to play and are visually attractive. It’s quite a challenge to design and build a new golf course, so it’s very rewarding to see the finished product turn out well. And of course, it takes a team of capable people to get it all done.”

Clearly he’s got a lot of work to be proud of, but what about his golf game? A scratch-player, Johnston still has his eye on the future. “I’ve won some local competitions in my life but my proudest moment will be in the future when I make my first hole-in-one.”


Photos courtesy of Warren Grant

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!”