By Jack Falinski
Capital Information Service
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there wasn’t a lot for many individuals to do aside from sit at house. However as restrictions slowly lifted towards the top of spring 2020, many individuals turned, or returned, to a well-liked sport – golf – to fill their time.
Since then, its reputation has elevated.
Golf remained a serious go-to leisure exercise in 2021, with rounds performed rising by 5.5% within the nation and by 5.6% in Michigan, in keeping with the Nationwide Golf Basis.
However as play surges, Mark Wilson, the interim director of Ferris State College’s PGA Golf Administration Program, stated he’s having bother recruiting college students.
“There’s been a 10-year development on this trade of declining curiosity, and that is actually throughout the board, so it covers golf professionals, golf course superintendents and membership managers,” Wilson stated. “This began previous to the pandemic, and it’s leveled off for us a bit.
“It is a super time of alternative within the golf trade.”
Seventeen U.S. universities provide a PGA Golf Administration program.
Wilson stated seven years in the past, the entire enrollment for all of these packages — together with one at Clemson College in South Carolina — equaled about 2,650 college students.
Since then, Clemson’s program has been discontinued, and the entire enrollment of scholars final 12 months among the many universities had dropped to about 1,450 college students.
Ferris State is the one one that provides this system in Michigan. Elsewhere within the Nice Lakes area, solely Penn State College has a program.
This system at Ferris has a secretary, an adjunct teacher, an internship coordinator and himself, Wilson stated.
Ten years in the past, the freshman class had 77 college students. The freshman lessons the previous two years numbered solely 27 college students.
He stated he hopes to herald over 30 college students for subsequent fall semester.
So what do these college students do?
“I get that query lots: What do these college students do for 4 and a half years?” Wilson stated. “Really, they’re actually busy.”
To obtain a bachelor’s diploma, college students take a golf orientation course, three ranges of educational teaching and facility administration programs and 5 semesters’ price of internships. They then can grow to be head golf professionals, administrators of golf, basic managers and golf instructors.
To spice up enrollment, Wilson stated he encourages golf membership professionals, superintendents and membership members to steer excessive schoolers to his program.
“In the event that they see a youngster that works within the bag room, works on the golf course or works within the eating room at a facility, they may faucet them on the shoulder — anyone that’s focused on the way forward for the trade — and head them in the best route,” Wilson stated. “Head them in the best route, and we’ll deal with them.”
Some golf professionals could also be nearing retirement, in keeping with Wilson. Youthful professionals can fill these positions.
If the disparity between the expansion of play and the decline in enrollment in administration packages continues, Wilson stated he fears the way forward for some native and mid-level golf golf equipment could also be at stake.
“One of many causes I say that there’s going to be lots of alternatives is that together with these numbers that we’ve talked about, about 53% of all PGA professionals are over age 50,” he stated. “Meaning there’s going to be vital adjustments and retirements within the subsequent 10 to fifteen years, and so the youthful individuals who may need to transfer into the trade may have some nice alternatives.”
Wilson stated about 40% of PGA workers members come from a four-year college program. The opposite 60%, he stated, come from an affiliate program supplied immediately by way of the PGA.
John Rogers III, the director of Michigan State College’s Golf Course Turfgrass Administration Program, stated the explanation there’s been a decline within the trade is because of the low wages and tough hours of entry-level positions.
“It’s not an excellent way of life for lots of youthful individuals,” Rogers stated. “These positions don’t pay very properly popping out of college.
“Numerous these PGA packages ask you to get a four-year diploma. There’s nothing improper with a four-year diploma, besides if you’re paid $10 an hour on a four-year diploma. Then no person’s enthusiastic about it.”
Rogers stated enrollment amongst college students is up in his turfgrass program, a development he attributes to golf professionals encouraging younger individuals to use.
“We haven’t modified the best way we educate, nor will we,” Rogers stated. “What’s going to change is the variety of college students as they get , nevertheless it’s not our job to make them .”
He stated superintendents are in the very best place to develop curiosity amongst workers to additional their schooling.
“I’ve graduated 1,500 college students, and there’s tons of and tons of which are superintendents right now, and each single one among them obtained began on this enterprise by engaged on a golf course,” he added. “You ship them. We educate them. You get them again.”
Superintendents, groundskeepers, gear managers and interns are wished at programs all through the state, in keeping with the Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Affiliation, together with openings in Charlevoix, Ingham, Kent, Mackinac, Oakland and Ottawa counties.
Wilson stated he hopes the very best for the way forward for the golf trade.
“I’m actually captivated with the way forward for the trade,” Wilson stated. “I’m nearing the top of my profession. I’ve spent a very long time within the trade, and so I’m involved about its future simply because I had a lot enjoyable working.
“It was simply enjoyable. Daily I went to work, I had enjoyable.”