Faculty Spotlight on Lou Skovron, PGA

“My proudest moment as an educator is when I see our students go on to become successful in the golf industry.”

Most recently, Lou became the Golf Director at The Legends Golf Club, but he has held every possible position in a golf course operation. He worked his way up from Assistant Professional, Head Golf Professional, Golf Director, General Manager, Course Construction, & Golf Course Development and Tournament Director. You cannot be successful in these roles overnight, and in career that spans over 4 decades he’s proven that there is no substitute for hard work and passion. In the late 1960’s the University of San Diego beckoned to him, drawing him out to sunny, southern California from Great Falls, MT where he was attending the College of Great Falls. Southern California became his home, and the locale where many of his greatest accomplishments would take place, beginning with his work in PGA Business School I&II.

Lou knows what it takes to make a course, and a career, successful. Take, for example, his numerous honors: his "Shortcuts to Better Golf" was published in Golf Magazine, in 1990 he was named Merchandiser of the Year for public courses by the SCPGA, and in 2008 he was named Golf Professional of the Year by the Inland Empire PGA. In both 1986 and 1990 he was nominated by Golf Digest for heading up the Golf Shop of the Year and he spent 1980 to 1982 as the President San Diego Chapter PGA. From 2005 to 2010 he sat on the Inland Empire Chapter PGA Board of Directors and, not to boast, but in a town with a population of over 3 million people (many of whom are golfers), he has been named one of the 'Top 100 Influential People in Golf in San Diego'. The accolades are strewn about, but he isn’t after them. Truthfully… his entire career is has been tirelessly dedicated to service.

Skovron began his work with junior golf while he was still in college, and during that time he rose to Junior Chairman, with a Junior Chairman of the Year award in both the Inland Empire and Southern California chapters of the PGA following closely behind. Lou currently sits on the Junior Golf Advisory Board for the Southern California Section PGA ,and for over 20 years, alongside his wife, Valerie, he co-directs the Valley Junior Golf Association. Formed to promote the traditions of golf and encourage competition and camaraderie among junior golfers, the VJGA was created to educate young people about the skill, self-discipline, competition and joy of the game. Established in 1987, the VJGA is a non-profit junior golf tour that runs a staggering 30 tournaments a year for kids 5 to 18 years of age, and from the very start Lou and Valerie have maintained their belief that: “Golf is good for kids.”

Taking a moment to explain exactly why golf is good for kids, Lou shared that “Along with the tournaments we try to show kids what they can learn from golf that's going to help them in everyday life, and growing up.” This genuine sentiment is balanced with matter of fact logic; Lou knows that golf provides a positive activity for youngsters during a period in their lives that requires direction and supervision. He and Valerie see the impact of the work they do every day, and golf is a central part of their life. Their son, Joe, who has had his own successful playing career, and launched the “Beyond the Links” clothing line, is a graduate of the VJGA. Presently Joe caddies on the PGA Tour for a golfer you may have heard of…Rickie Fowler, who also happens to be a graduate of the VJGA.

It is very clear that his passion is helping people enjoy golf, because he strongly believes that "golf is the one sport that people can enjoy for a lifetime". It is no wonder that his proudest moments are watching others succeed; he is a servant to the game. Bringing humor, experience, and an open mind, to all of his students, one thing is for certain; his extended family of golfers, from 5 to 18, or 50 or 80, know the rarity and value of someone like him because, like every great teacher, Lou is still learning.

PGCC Named 2013 Military Friendly School

PGCC Logo If you caught wind of the 2013 Military Friendly Schools list, which was be distributed in print and digital format to hundreds of thousands of active and former military personnel in October 2012, you saw it proudly displaying our name for the first time. The list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

“A school’s inclusion on the 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools shows commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students,” said Sean Collins, Vice President at Victory Media, the organization behind the publication, and Director for G.I. Jobs. “As interest in education grows, we’re thrilled to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools.”

The criteria for inclusion incorporate a survey of over 3,000 actual student veterans. This feedback provides prospective military students with insight into the student veteran experience at particular institutions based on peer reviews from current students. To make it on the list, these schools have to have world-class programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility, and other services to those who served.

In addition to awarding a full-ride scholarship opportunity at each campus to select veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project, one of the most important ways that PGCC helps veteran students is through its participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Established in 2008 as part of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows higher learning institutions to enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition and fees, and the VA will match it, up to 50%.

If you do the math, this means that both the VA and PGCC team up to cover up to 50% of a student’s tuition and fees each, essentially absorbing up to half of the cost of tuition, as a way of giving back to those who have already given so much. So what does this mean exactly? It means that our students can potentially earn a degree at no cost. PGCC’s VA Coordinator, Ann Martin, feels that the golf college’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program is groundbreaking “It’s a voluntary thing for the school and about 5% of our students in Temecula are veterans, so this program has a lot of potential to help them.”

Among the other services offered to our veteran students is an annual meeting with a local VA representative. Our local VA rep has made a tradition of visiting the campus annually to provide information about all of the programs in place to benefit every sphere of our student’s lives, from personal counseling and marriage counseling, to education and housing. The meeting is optional, and the response has been encouraging. PGCC Temecula’s Director of Admission, Gary Gilleon, a veteran and graduate of PGCC, strongly believes in the importance of creating access to this information. Gilleon shared that “If students choose to meet with the rep, they get info about PTSD, if there’s anything going on with their lives that the VA can help with, from budgeting to buying a house, debt reduction, and counseling…you name it.”

At first glance it might be tough to draw the connection but, PGCC is a unique institution ideally suited to veterans who are embarking on a second career, or forging a new path after their service. Gilleon continues “Our students are disciplined and focused, they know why they’re here and they enjoy being here. Going from the military to golf is an easy transition because even if they’ve never worked in the golf industry, there’s always the skill set that they bring with them; organization, people skills, confidence, presenting, leading, directing. It all translates very easily into the golf industry.”

Welcome Spring 2013 Freshmen

PGCC Logo This is the first week of school for our Spring 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.”