Orlando Senior Receives Green Jacket for Win

One of the greatest things about being a student at the Professional Golfers Career College is all of the golf you get to play, and in some cases, have to play. Playing the game is part of the curriculum just as much as learning about the history of our beloved sport, or the business of running a tournament. Golf is what we live and breathe, but what use is all that studying if you don’t get out on the greens and remember why you wanted a career in golf in the first place?! To that end, one of the best times of the semester, tournament season, is upon us again.

Tournament season marks the close of the semester and, as in the case of Heeil Yang, a senior at PGCC Orlando, it also marks the weeks just before commencement when seniors have the luxury of playing their last few competitions at school before entering the golf world professionally. Qualifiers lead up to the competitions and determine who will participate in the International Cup and the President’s Cup, and the Class Challenge. Participation in at least one of these competitions is mandatory, because students earn credit for PE 142: Tournament Golf; a class that always tops the “favorites” list.

The Semester Tournament, the final tournament of the season, wraps up the day before graduation and is a particularly fun one in Orlando because the victor is awarded a green jacket, just like the Masters, and their name is engraved on a plaque that visitors to the campus can see. A 36-hole, stroke-play style of tournament, with 18 holes played on both day one and two, one of the most challenging facets of this competition is the fact that the size of the field is the entire student body. Though the tournament is flighted, and Yang was competing in the “Champions” bracket, this essentially means that he beat out a field of 65 players to capture his title; a remarkable accomplishment for any golfer.

Over the summer, Heeil, who hails from South Korea, accepted the traditional green jacket from PGCC Orlando’s Director of Placement, Tony Austin, and Director of Golf, Roger Masterson. Posting a 74 on day 1 and 69 day 2 Yang won the championship as a junior at the Reunion Resort, a Jack Nicklaus design, just outside of Orlando. After receiving the green jacket he shared, “This is truly an honor.” Yang continued, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and to wear the green jacket, well, it means a lot to me.”

Spending 16 months learning about golf and playing golf can leave anyone reluctant to leave, as he can attest. “I want to stay here and play, who doesn’t?” Yang joked. The jury is still out on whether he will take home a second consecutive victory after playing in the fall tournament, but with the numbers he put up in summer, it looks like he’s the one to beat. After graduation, Yang will attempt to qualify for the Web.com tour, and if he makes it, we’re sure that will just be the start of the road to yet another elusive green jacket.

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!”