Practice Makes Perfect at OCN

How does the old adage go? Practice makes perfect? Well, this wisdom has been passed down from generations for a number of good reasons, not least of which is that it’s absolutely, inarguably true. As more and more of us seek out fulfilling careers over a cookie-cutter jobs that just pay the bills, we begin to feel the true power of an idea as simple as practicing a skill. As our students complete each course and move on to the next class level, they utilize what they’ve learned as a foundation and steadily build. Each semester, at all of our campuses, students have ample opportunity to be as involved as they want to be, and to apply what they learn in the real world.

This experience is what changes things after graduation. Who you know can get you in a door, but what do you have to offer once you’re in the interview chair and it is your moment to shine? Employers may glance at your resume and see that you’ve got the right credentials on paper, but what happens when you are in a situation that only experience can get you out of? Moments like these are when it really sinks in...practice makes perfect. Our students are prepared for these moments because we place an emphasis on providing opportunities to volunteer at events that put students in direct contact with industry professionals and real-world challenges and timelines; in short, our students can perform at the highest standards because they know what they’re doing.

Take for example our Orlando campus; the Professional Golfers Career College has had a long and illustrious history with Orange County National Golf Center (OCN). It began numerous years ago when we opened our second campus on the grounds of OCN, and continues today as our students have become the go-to volunteer staffers for events like the PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day, and in early November, the regional qualifier for the 2014 PGA Champions Tour.

Golf college students routinely serve as volunteers, starters, and spotters and, as a result of their extensive tournament operations training, are dutifully prepared to meet any challenge. Roger Masterson, PGCC Orlando’s Director of Golf reminds us that our student- volunteers have been support staff to over 8,000 PGA professionals and industry insiders at Demo Days, which made this qualifier something of a walk-in-the-park. Masterson said, “It was challenging but fun. It was really nice getting to see our students using things they’d learned in school, in action.” It takes a great deal of coordination to host an event of this magnitude, and with the assistance of our students, the qualifier went off without a hitch.

Tony Austin, PGCC Orlando’s Director of Placement agrees with Roger, and notes the underlying importance of on-the-job training. Austin shared that, “This is a perfect advantage for us and you can’t find experience like this anywhere else. Our students learn what’s like to run a PGA Tour event, experience like this is invaluable.” Austin continues, “It’s not ever y day you get to be a part of an important PGA tournament, but our students embraced it, and I think the guys trying to qualify for the Champions Tour appreciated it. Our students applied many of the things they have learned in class regarding tournament operations and scoring to this event and I couldn’t be happier with the way things went.” Austin makes a crucial point here. Certainly there are different styles of learning to which each of us are best-suited, but at the end of the day, we all learn by doing.

So what are you waiting for? Take a cue from our students pursuing a career in golf. Find what you love, do what you love, and then do it again and again until you are the absolute best at what you do, and then repeat.

Freshman Scores First Hole-in-One

One of the beautiful things about golf is that it is a wildly unpredictable game. There’s no team on which you can lean for support in completing a play, there’s no referee to take your side when something feels terribly unfair, and there’s no telling what will happen when you step on the greens. Sometimes though, in the spirit of unpredictability, and with a pinch of goodwill, fate deals us a different hand, a better hand than usual...just ask Paul Malone, a freshman at PGCC Hilton Head. Malone is all too familiar with the often comical and always interesting pursuit of a great moment in a round golf, and he will never forget his.

Malone shares a similar back-story with many of our students; he was an athlete growing up and while he found golf early on, his love for it grew from a slow simmer to the blaze it is today. Malone says, “I started playing golf when I was younger but never seriously. I always played just for fun,” he continues, “Football was my true love. I played Middle Linebacker and loved every minute of it. There isn't a greater feeling in the world then when you strap on a helmet and line up on that field for 60 minutes. But as we all know, you can't play that sport forever. So, when I was done with football, I could feel a void in my life. I started to play golf more and more, and that's when the bug bit me. Golf was all I wanted to do when I didn't have to work.”

Lucky for Malone, the oldest of five kids from Oak Forest, Illinois, a suburb just outside of Chicago, he found a home at PGCC where playing golf is every bit a part of your homework as what’s assigned in class. Building up his skills every day paid off recently during a round at Eagle’s Pointe Golf Club, and here’s how it went, in his words...

“I was playing at Eagles Pointe Golf Club with Dan Byron. We were on the 11th, a Par 3. The pin position was placed in the back of the green and this day the hole was playing at about 150 yards from the blue tees. I was hitting a 9 iron and tee’d up first. I hit the ball with a high slight fade back to the hole. The sun was in our eyes and when the ball hit, I saw it hit the green and then I didn’t see it because of the glare. I turned to Dan and asked him, “Did that ball just go past the hole, or did it just go in?” Dan said that he’d seen it hit and it looked like it rolled past the hole on the green, but he knew it was a good shot.

As we drove up to the hole and got out to walk up to the green, we had to walk a good distance. I wasn’t seeing my ball anywhere. Dan was in front of me and he started heading to the back of the green where there were bushes and a pond. As I’m walking, I’m thinking to myself ‘There is no way it rolled off the back of the green because of how high I hit the ball in the air.’ So as I’m approaching the hole and still cannot find my ball I think to myself, ‘I have to check the hole to make sure.’ I get up to the hole and look in and there is my ball sitting right in the cup.

I froze. It was the most stunned I have ever been in my life. I finally turned and started running the other way screaming and jumping up in the air when Dan turned around to see me jumping and pointing at the cup. He ran up and looked and we both began to jump and high-five each other. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life and I was pretty much shaking from joy the rest of the round, so much so that I found it hard to hit the ball after that.

I went on to shoot an 85 for the day, in what will go down as one of the greatest days of my life!”

In Memory of Fred Brattain

Last week we lost one of our beloved family members, Fred Brattain. Fred was a Spring 2006 graduate of PGCC Temecula, and a Vietnam veteran, who eventually went on to become CEO and Director of Instruction for the Disabled Golfer's Learning Foundation. Fred started the foundation to rehabilitate disabled veterans through the game of golf; a response to his own experiences of being wounded and feeling that he was perceived as inherently less-than as a result of his injuries.

Fred worked with his fellow disabled veterans to peel back the damaging effects of conflict, and help heal his fellow veterans by teaching them to golf. One of Fred's former instructors, and Dean of Students at PGCC Temecula, Jim "Wilkie" Wilkinson, remembered Fred's bravery. "In class he would share his past struggles and he set such an incredible example of for his fellow classmates. He was such a special, special guy."

Fred was one of PGCC's featured "Success Stories" and we are so proud of his accomplishments. In his "Success Stories" profile, Fred shared a little bit about his time here and what it meant to him, and we felt it would be a good time to honor his legacy by revisiting his story.

"I graduated from PGCC in April of 2006, winner of the Old Tom Morris Award. I came to PGCC to find the information and the connections necessary to launch the Disabled Golfer's Learning Foundation (DGLF). Without my time at PGCC I would not have had a clue how to get the foundation off the ground. Learning the ins and outs of the business, and the contacts I made while I was there, made launching the foundation possible."

The best thing I took from PGCC was a firm understanding of how the golf industry operates, and all of the connections I made with others in the industry. Those connections led to several breakthroughs for the DGLF. What I love most about PGCC are the people. The things I value most from my time there are the dedication of the staff to providing a quality education, and all of the friendships I made. I have continued to maintain contact with several of the instructors and administrators as we have moved our foundation forward, and their continued support has been amazing.

Without that experience, I would not have been able to get the foundation off the ground. I am in debt to the faculty and staff at PGCC for making this dream possible.”

If you visit the website for the Disabled Golfer's Learning Foundation you will see a quote from Sir Walter Simpson that Fred selected; this quote sums up his entire philosophy. "There is no shape, nor size of body, no awkwardness nor ungainliness which puts good golf beyond reach. There are good golfers with spectacles, with one eye, with one leg, even with one arm. In golf, while there is life, there is HOPE."

We will miss Fred's candor and genuine kindness, and we will always be grateful to have meant so much to a person who meant so much to us.