Faculty Spotlight on Randy Shannon“My proudest moments in golf are obtaining PGA membership, playing in 3 PGA TOUR events, receiving multiple awards throughout my career, and each and every day loving what I do as a career.”
To say that Randy Shannon has been in the golf business for a long time would be severely under appreciating quite how long that really is. “I always say that I began playing at 6, but didn’t get serious until I was 8” Shannon deadpans. If you trace it back, this means that his career began taking shape right around the 4th grade. “I began working in the golf industry in the 7th grade caddying, working the range and the bag room, and began competing in 7th or 8th grade.” His involvement in junior tournaments took place over his 3 month summer breaks, priming him for golf teams and eventually a spot in several events on the PGA Tour later in life.
As an educator, Randy can look back with true respect for the value of his great golf education, and where it took him. “My dad always played golf, and because he was a member at private clubs, I had access to really great instruction.” It is through his own golf education that he eventually found his way to the golf college. President and founder of PGCC, Dr. Tim “Doc” Somerville was an early educator of his at the San Diego Golf Academy. “Doc was my teacher, my coach, and now he’s my boss; but I don’t feel like I work for him, I feel like I work with him,” he continues “Doc and I go back 30 years, so coming to PGCC after having known him for so long, and from being a student of his, I knew what that meant, I knew what that said about this place.”
Over his 35 year career in operations, gathering his Class “A” PGA Member status along the way, he excelled in Private, Resort, and Public facility management. He assisted in 3 start-up golf facilities from inception and, quite enviably, has been the Head Golf Professional at Kapalua Golf Club in Maui, Hawaii, the Director of Golf at Broken Top Club in Bend, Oregon, and General Manager at Cross Creek Golf Club & Talega Golf Club in beautiful Southern California. This breadth of experience is an ideal foundation for the classes he instructs; Tournament Golf, Organization of Golf Tournaments, Golf Operations I, II & III and Career Planning. Over his three decades of service to the game he’s spent nine years as General Manager, fourteen years as Director of Golf/Head Professional and 14 years working in tournament operations for PGA Tour events, and he’s been the proud recipient of the PGA Merchandiser of the Year award four times, and the winner of the Horton Smith Award in the SCGA, Inland Empire chapter.
A resume like that makes it easy to see how he might be looking for a new challenge, having already travelled far in his chosen field. “After spending three decades in operations I saw this as an entirely new challenge. I didn’t know that when I first came here 3 years ago, but I found that out quickly.” Shannon continues, “Golf is a game where everybody can improve and what draws me to teaching is the joy of watching a golfer hit a great shot; I think I get more excited than they do!” he beams. “There is nothing like a well struck golf shot; you can’t mistake it.” So, as it turns out, moving from operations to instruction was a rather seamless transition for him. “Teaching here is immediately rewarding, it’s always changing. To see the future leaders show up here, wanting to learn, is a tremendously rewarding experience.” Continuing that “One of my favorite sayings is ‘you’re only as good as your last shot’ because you can never master this game. This is a game that requires lots of time and practice, not just physically but mentally as well.”
After his numerous accomplishments, one might think his next step could have been to tip his hat to his achievements and focus only on refining his own physical and mental game, but what is more important to him than that, is cultivating the future leaders in the world of golf, because they need expertise like his. “Our game is great because we have over 16,000 course choices in the United States alone.” He continues by sharing that “Other sports like baseball, football, basketball, tennis, you name it; they all play on identical fields. In golf there are so many variables, different kinds of turf, terrain, weather etc. You will never play the same course twice, and that makes golf a continually learning process.” And he ought to know.
Welcome Fall 2012 FreshmenThis is the first week of school for our Fall 2012 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.”
Pro Golfer Ken Green Gets Personal at PGCCKen Green’s name is written on the wall of golf history. Along the way he earned a reputation as a bit of a spirited maverick on the course but he is nevertheless a seasoned golfer with over 500 events to his name. He’s racked up five PGA Tour wins; he played with Arnold Palmer in the 1997 Masters Tournament, he competed in the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship, and the Open Championship and has represented the United States in the Ryder Cup alongside Paul Azinger, Tom Kite, Payne Stewart, Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Watson. Green also made history as the first player to play the Champions Tour as an amputee.
In June of 2009 Ken was injured when his motor home blew a tire and veered off the road, killing his brother Billy, his love Jeanne and his beloved canine companion Nip, whose life he previously saved when he wrestled Nip free from an alligator in Florida. The accident took the three loves of his life; it took everything short of his actual life. He’s said of the event that "I lost the three best friends I had on the planet," continuing “I'm never going to see them or talk to them again. There isn't one day I don't miss them, and that's never going to change.”
Nobody would have been surprised if he was unable to recover from the physical battery and emotional devastation of a loss like that. But he did. He fought fire with fire, unearthing an almost superhuman focus to get back on the course. When doctors had to come around to a decision about how to proceed with his leg, which was now supported by steel rods and screws, he had one question: Would he be able to golf competitively again? There were two answers. If he kept his leg, the short answer was “No.” Amputating his right leg below the knee would allow him to get a prosthetic limb and learn to golf again, so he made instantaneous choice. His leg had to go.
Clearly this is a man with an intense love for golf; the game has always been an anchor for him and there’s a lot to learn from a story like his, which is why he decided to share it with our students at PGCC Orlando. Students spent some time with Ken when he visited Brendon Elliott’s Psychology of Golf class. “I speak from my heart. Maybe that’s not typical. I don’t go up there with an agenda but my underlying message is always that you should enjoy what you’re doing first and foremost. If you’re not happy, you’re not going to be able to reach the pinnacle of success the way you could doing something you love to do.”
Brendon Elliott, Instructor for the Psychology of Golf class shared that “Ken spoke at an event I did a few years back and I knew he would be an excellent guest. I knew that his message would resonate with the kids.” Speaking engagements, although they are infrequent, serve a reaffirming purpose for Ken as well. “The feeling I get when I’m speaking, or at clinics, is the best. I feel like it’s good for me, I feel a sense of accomplishment coming back from the accident, from a setback like that. I feel useful.” Green said. “When people appreciate you and you feel useful, that’s a great thing. I got thrown a major curveball that I couldn’t have possibly expected. I still have bad days, everybody does, but I’m happy with how I’ve handled it. I think I’ve done a good job.”
Golfers tend to have career evolutions, first they learn the game, then they play the game, and then in some way or another they teach others what they learned from the game. It is safe to say that even though he is still playing well, he’s tiptoeing into another phase of his career; education and outreach.
He shared that “There was never a doubt in my mind that golf was going to be it for me.” And when you asked him about how early he started playing, even dropping out of school to pursue the game? He responds simply, “I can honestly say that golf was my passion. I had no idea it would go this way, I didn’t know if I would make it as a player but there was never any question for me. I always knew that golf was it. It is what I loved, and what I would do.” That’s a feeling that our students can definitely relate to. “His message was to never give up on your goals, no matter what life brings you” explained Brendan Elliot, “the students thought he was great. He was very real and honest.”
Success is an impossible formula to decode but at the root of every successful story you’ll find the same element; insatiable passion driven by love. “You look at some athletes and ask yourself, ‘why do some people make it and others don’t?’ I think it’s a matter of heart.” Green explains. “You can see an athlete who may not seem especially talented, but they’re successful. It’s because you can see and feel how much they love it, where others are such naturally gifted athletes but maybe they don’t seem to attain a level of success because their heart isn’t in it. At the end of the day you need to ask yourself, how big is your heart?”
That’s a question worth asking ourselves; how big IS our heart? “The game of golf inspired me. I grew up poor. I didn’t have a lot but I managed to play and that brought me to another level. Golf has always inspired me.”
Inspiration is his work now. He’s a man with a lot of heart; he’s always been real and honest, but it takes an especially grounded man to find his purpose and pay it forward.