Alum Promoted to GM in Record Four MonthsWhen you look back at any number of success stories, themes begin to appear; passion, dedication and direction are three of those themes. Those three are things are the bottom line here,at the Professional Golfers Career College, the shared common denominator of all our students and alumni. Keeping that in mind one wouldn’t be surprised when they hear that another PGCC Alum has gone on to make their mark at a golf club, leaving their own special touch on everything.
Christopher “Kit” Tennyson is one such graduate.
A little less than a year ago Kit Tennyson was promoted to General Manager of Tanglewood Golf Course after occupying the Assistant Clubhouse Manager position, which he earned from very high praise. According to Tennyson, “The greatest lesson I learned at PGCC is that networking is the key to success. This is a tough business with lots of qualified professionals competing for fewer and fewer positions. Often, it comes down to the recommendation of someone you've met along the way.” Much of his professional drive and direction sprang from his time as a pro shop/bag room attendant at Mahogany Run Golf Club in St. Thomas, USVI where his eyes were first opened to see that golf as a career was not just a possibility, but inevitability.
As Tennyson recalls, “I was introduced to the game at a young age by my father, David Tennyson, who has been a scratch player for most of his life. I grew up walking the fairways and learning the game from him. I played baseball throughout high school and college and thought of golf as just a hobby.” Just like that, as most paths do, Tennyson’s meandered away from golf and, for a time, he pursued Journalism as a vocation. “I had been working as an advertising sales executive in the newspaper industry for several years. As the role of newspapers declined in the country, so did the commission checks that were such a large part of my compensation. I had maintained my passion for golf and kept going back to my time at Mahogany Run as the best years of my life. With the newspaper business struggling and a career change imminent, there was no better time to pursue my old dream of a life in the golf industry.”
Which is exactly what he did; “I knew it was tough to get a foot in the door of the golf business so I attended PGCC to give me a leg up on the competition” he says, adding that “PGCC gave me a solid understanding of many aspects of the business. The great thing about PGCC is that it covers such a broad array of subjects; from business planning to psychology & lessons to calligraphy. After my graduation I really felt prepared for any & everything.”
Going from graduate to GM didn’t happen overnight though, dues had to be paid. “Upon my graduation from PGCC in August of 2010, I took a job on the grounds crew at the L.A. Nickell with the understanding that with my background in golf I would also provide group & individual golf lessons in my "free" time. Through the contacts I made giving golf lessons at the L.A. Nickell I was recommended for the Assistant Clubhouse Manager/Golf Professional position at Tanglewood.” And here’s where it circles around, Tennyson was the Assistant Clubhouse Manager/ Golf Professional for a mere four months before he was promoted to GM. Imagine what kind of example you’d have to set to garner that kind of recognition in only 120 days. In a way though, it make sense; he learned from the best.
Frank Jones, a beloved teacher at PGCC Hilton Head who was more of an institution than an instructor prior to his passing earlier this year. “I had several great relationships with the staff at PGCC but the one that stands out in my mind is Frank Jones. I had never given a golf lesson before but Frank's ability to pass on his knowledge and passion for the game enabled me to become a passable teacher myself and really set him apart.” It’s apparent that the affection in his tone is not just sentimental, it is truthful. “We lost Frank this past year and the world and the game of golf is poorer for it.”
We are all part of cycles in life and after mentors pass along knowledge, it is up to the next generation of golfers to lead by example and make their marks, too. “The best part of my job is the people that I meet every day. We are a busy public golf facility and we get all kinds of players. From the die-hards that complain that "The snow is mostly melted, why can't we tee off?" to the weekend warriors with the six-pack per 9-holes. They all love the game and they all have a story to tell.”
PGCC Alum Builds App, Scores Jim Furyk EndorsementAt PGCC we educate the future leaders in the world of golf; it is our motto and our purpose. Technology is the future; that’s not an arguable opinion anymore. That is a fact.
Technology revolutionizes every sphere of our life that it touches, and golf is, a major part of our lives. When televisions found their way into our homes we were suddenly able to watch our favorite golfers and root for them as if we were in the gallery at The Masters tournament; with the advent of the internet we were able to go to a website and see every hole at every course, and check weather conditions to see how the greens were going to play that day; now that the internet has gone mobile, the next wave of technology will teach us how to manage and track our game while we’re on the move by using a leaderboard that we keep in our pocket.
Ryan Ripa graduated from PGCC Hilton Head in December of 2010, which means that in less than two years he went from student to co-founder of GTG Golf, a leading web based event management and real-time scoring system designed for the everyman; in other words, it is designed for you and me…and Jim Furyk. The 2010 PGA Tour Player of the Year recently threw his support behind Ryan and GTG Golf by endorsing their leaderboard app; according to Jim “Leaderboard standings factor into just about every shot I take in a tournament. If you’re serious about your game; GTG Golf is the app for you.”
So what exactly does the app do and how does it work? According to Ripa, “A golfer logs on to gtggolf.com and signs in, from here they select where and when they are playing. Next they invite golfers, select their format, put them into teams and pairings and away they go.” These few easy steps remove a lot of the footwork from accurately tracking your game. Ripa continues “There is no limit to how many golfers are playing or how many phones can be connected. “It’s not just the golfers that get to participate” Ripa excitedly explains. “What’s cool is that you can see a real time leaderboard on your phone of every game format. Also, spectators, aka friends and families, can see a leaderboard from a PC on a Master's Style leaderboard. Spectators can also enter the unique event code from their mobile home screen and follow right from their Smartphone.”
The element of spectator involvement is, without question, a major perk for families who, while they wish to be supportive of their golfer, may not share their same passion for being on the course all day long. That faint sound you hear just might be the clinking of glasses from toasts in their honor. So how did GTG Golf get here? Good old-fashioned hard work. Ryan co-founded the company with a close friend and 3 other partners and after raising capital they built an “alpha version”, and then went back and raised even more money to build their current product.
“As a start-up company, we pretty much handle the tasks of 20 individuals.” Ripa’s responsibilities are centered on marketing, sales, and investments, as well daily activities such social media and business development with their strategic partners. He also handles customer inquiries and works with developers to lay out the product roadmap. Wearing all of those hats can mean only one thing. Ryan and the guys at GTG Golf love what they do. “I love that I am working on something very cool that has the potential to be very BIG.” Ripa says after enumerating a number of other things he loves about his job, and the list is not brief. “I love that I am a co-founder, and get to work with a technology that is so cutting edge. I have been able to play golf on some of the nicest golf courses just through people I have met. We have Jim Furyk endorsing the product, which means a lot to us."
If you think you may have heard of GTG Golf already, perhaps that's because they've also been featured in Golf Magazine, US Airways as well as the Peter Kessler Show on XM PGATOUR Radio. Ryan’s success in the golf industry is sending a message to other golfers, fellow PGCC graduates and current students; You can turn your passion into a profession.
Every success story begins somewhere, his began early in life and, unsurprisingly, on a golf course. “Golf was introduced to both my brother and myself at a young age. Every summer there was a 12-hole par 37 executive course where we would go when on vacation. I lost touch with the game as I pursued and played baseball which was in the same season as golf. Once in college I picked the game back up as my brother Chris, who was an avid golfers and a strong 4 year varsity high school golfer, started competing.”
Once he picked it up again, there was no looking back. “I started playing avidly about 6 years ago. I worked at Colleton River in Bluffton, SC during my time at PGCC. After my time at PGCC I went on and spent a season with the NJSGA (New Jersey State Golf Association) as a USGA intern. I learned the ins and outs of tournament set up as well as handicapping and how the governing bodies of Golf work.” Ripa continues “I wanted to attend PGCC to learn as much about the game while providing exposure to all the great opportunities that were made available.”
“PGCC gave me the ability to put myself in the right situations. I learned a lot about not only game of golf but about how the industry works.” Ryan took to heart some lessons handed down by PGCC Hilton Head faculty member Jim Hoff, “He tells you how it is. He taught you how to use minimum resources and make a course money earning machine. That's kind of how students are. You have a limited time to gather as much knowledge on every aspect of the game, refine yourself and ultimately put yourself in a position to become a money earning machine.
It looks like he certainly took that last lesson to heart, as evidenced by his last word about the business of golf. “Golf is a roughly a $70billion industry and it is only going to get bigger with more people learning the game.”
GTG Golf offers a Free Red Tee Membership, as well as monthly subscriptions to a White Tee, Blue Tee and Gold Tee.
Students Play Important Role in Successful TournamentsA man named David Thomas once said about volunteerism that “Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.” And we couldn’t agree more. The truth is this: an unselfish action doesn’t mean that a person won’t benefit from having helped; it means that personal gain was not their motivation. To students at the Professional Golfers Career College volunteering is an invaluable part of their time here; volunteering is something they do well, and do often.
Routinely, students across all of our campuses serve as integral pieces in the successful execution of golf events like the: PGA Merchandising Show: Demo Days, RBC Heritage Classic, Clubs for Kids, Through Kyle's Eyes Foundation Annual Golf Tournament and a number of different Wounded Warrior events, to name a few. There are dozens of volunteer opportunities at each campus every semester, and it is not uncommon to see a volunteer roster that boasts anywhere from a few students to over a hundred at any given time, and depending on the size of event; like the RBC Heritage Classic, where 114 students helped with setup, registration, and take down.
Take for example the Give Kids the World Village, a 70-acre non-profit storybook resort located near central Florida, and a number of beloved attractions, where children with life threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations. Joanie Johansson, Psychology teacher at PGCC Orlando, takes her freshman to visit the village every semester and it has become something of a tradition to put on a benefit tournament for the organization.
Johansson recalls that “When Erick Dietrich said he’d put on a tournament, I had no idea what we were in for. We had about 100 golfers and he did a wonderful job.” Or Chris White, who took the helm another year, “Chris did an incredible job.” Johansson gushes. “Some of our students volunteer there on a regular basis; one of our graduates even brings his wife now” She beams.
Or how about the PGA Merchandising Show: Demo Days? Organized by Orlando’s Director of Golf, Roger Masterson, this year 74 golf college volunteers were support staff to over 8,000 PGA professionals and insiders. “It was challenging but fun” notes Masterson, “It was really nice getting to see the students using things they’d learned in school, in action.” The volunteer staff, comprised of students from every grade level, held positions all across the 25 acre, 360 degree driving range had their hands full, but kept the event on point.
“We got feedback from OCN that of many volunteers at the event that we stepped up and performed above and beyond” Masterson recalls, “I saw a lot of smiles on student’s faces when they were doing jobs that were less than desirable.” Laughing, “They were just so excited by the fact that they were that close to that many important people in the industry, getting to help them and interact with them.”
Fans of golf might know the name Kyle Lograsso; he is one of fewer than 300 kids in the United States who are diagnosed with retinoblastoma each year. At just 9 years old, he has a highly unusual gift; a near perfect golf swing. The 9 year old golf prodigy has never had a lesson in his life and because of his natural talent, and love for the game, he has been able to raise awareness of the rare cancer that threatened his life a few short years ago by forming the Through Kyle’s Eyes Foundation. His foundation is dedicated to raising awareness and funding (they’ve already raised in excess of $60,000) for research towards an eventual cure for retinoblastoma.
Putting on a tournament is no easy feat and since learning of Kyle’s story, the Professional Golfers Career College has been committed to helping the foundation. Armed with a ready supply of professional, eager, knowledgeable students who are honored to help Kyle’s cause, the golf college is well represented by the volunteer staff who help keep the tournament running smoothly.
PGCC Temecula's Dean of Students, Jim Wilkinson, had a few words to share about the mutual benefits of volunteer experiences like any of the ones listed above. He shared that "Volunteering gives our students a hands on opportunity to see how things work behind the scenes; they see the inner workings and some decide where they’re going to focus their career based on their experiences at a tournament."
But he knows that there are greater benefits to the students than having another fun day on the course."You get a good feeling when you help anybody, whatever the cause." he continues "There's a good feeling about working towards a shared goal, whether you're raising money or calling attention to a cause, like the Wounded Warrior Project. They walk away feeling that they've helped somebody."
You see, students get more than just the joy of a job well done. In the course of these events, they occupy any and every role that needs filling, gaining priceless practical experience, and leaving the tournaments, organizations, and people, better for having been there.