PGA PGM Program Spotlight: Making the Best of Your Internship

by Brian Dobak
December 26, 2010

Your PGM University Internship Coordinator has successfully placed you at one of the countries top facilities that will surely decorate your resume. Having the clubs name within your credentials will put your resume towards the top of the pile when searching for future assistant positions, maybe even future HP jobs. However, don’t rest on your laurels. There is more to it than just having the clubs name on your resume. There is still a job to do and it must be a top priority for you to make the best of your internship. How do you make the best of your internship? Here is what some of those involved had to say.

Take the perspective of Charlie Wilder, Cooperative Education Coordinator at Mississippi State University. Charlie maintains the vital link between employers and students; his task is to facilitate students finding not just any co-op experience, but the one that will best fit both the employer and student. Here is what Charlie has to say about how to make the best of your internship:

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Be willing to travel to an unfamiliar part of the country, and avoid going back to your home course for your internship. Getting out of the comfort zone provides interns with an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. Working at a new course is also a great way to build a network of professional relationships.

Proving Ground

Be willing to work hard and work some more. Each day during your internship is your chance to prove your worth to your supervisors, your customers, and yourself. Make the most of each day during your internship and stay focused on your job. Most students only get one shot at college, so don’t mess it up. You represent your university while you are at work, and your actions will affect the relationship between your employer and your institution.

Quality of the Program

Instead of searching for the most popular courses for internships, do your research and seek out the courses with the most popular internship programs or the ones that are experience-focused. Your internships are your training for your career; you need a work environment where you will experience a healthy balance of challenges and supports. A big name may look good on your resume, but it means nothing if you cannot back it up with worthwhile experience.

Bob Ford, Head Golf Professional at Oakmont CC and Seminole GC gives his valuable insight into how you can make the best of your internship:

The best use of your time as an intern is to observe the other part of the operation that you are not a part of. Most of our interns run the outside operations. They get a great education from the ground up. From the time the cars and bags hit our driveway our interns are involved. What I like to see them do when they are not on the clock is to watch us teach, run the tournaments, and observe what happens in the shop.

In the PGM University Program, you will typically be completing three internships, it is very important to take into account how you complete them. Also, having fun is not to be disregarded. In your youth as an apprentice, the quality of your work is to be taken seriously, but it is pertinent to enjoy the journey. Bob Ford builds on this with some great perspective:

Making the best use of your internships would also be to intern at a resort course, private club, and daily fee to see how they all are so different. To do some work on the grounds and in the food and beverage department would be smart as well. The more you learn about the grass roots of what we do the better. It is a great time in your life, enjoy life, grasp it, and live your dreams.

Andy Betz, Internship Coordinator at North Carolina State University, gives great perspective by thoroughly breaking it down the NC State way:


The faculty at North Carolina State University, encourage our students to take advantage of all of the opportunities in front of them, and maybe see a part of the country they may never see again. Each internship will cover different parts of the country and the world.

Facility Type

We also recommend that our students experience different aspects of the ever changing golf business. We like to see them experience different types of facilities such as: Private, Semi-Private, Public, University, Municipal, Resort, Teaching Academies, Associations and any other golf related opportunity. By having the chance to see different areas of the golf business, our students can realize where they would like to work when they graduate from our program.

Operational Diversity

Once our students are on their internship, we like them to be able to experience as much diversity as possible on what it takes to be a successful golf professional. We like to see them exposed to the following: Outside Operations, Golf Shop Operations, Scheduling, Customer Service, Tournaments, Rules, Instruction, Budgets, Inventory Management and any other information the Supervising Professional would like to expose to the intern.

PGM Program Work

Another important part of an internship, is for the intern to work on his or her Work Experience Kit. We strongly suggest to the intern to complete as much of their Work Experience Kit while on their internship, since the majority of the information must come while on the job. The Work Experience Kits require a tremendous amount of back up documents to support the students work and the only place they will find that information is while they are on their internship.


One thing we always suggest to our interns is to pick up any informational document that they see while on their internship, such as: cart signs, sale signs, rule sheets, policies and procedure manuals, golf cart record keeping, instruction manuals, just to name a few. Any and all of these documents will be valuable to the students as they proceed through their career in the golf business.

Above and Beyond

At the conclusion of each internship, I have an exit interview with each student to discuss what they learned while they were on their internship. What I have learned from these meetings, is that the students that went out of their way on their own time are the individuals that are being sought out for great jobs after graduation. The student that works their 40 hours a week and leaves immediately after their shift will certainly learn what the golf operation is all about, but they may not get to see some other facets of the golf industry that they may not know exists. The student that clocks out and stays around the facility to help out with a junior clinic, assists with inventory, asks to shadow a member of the Professional Staff, F & B Staff, or the Golf Course Maintenance are the young men and women who will be overly successful in today’s golf business. We tell each student almost every day how important their grades are, but it is what they learn, who they meet and their job performance that will decide what type of job they will earn when they graduate from the PGA Golf Management Program.

Hopefully you have taken some perspective from this article on how to approach your internship opportunities. The internship opportunities at PGM Universities that are available can't be found anywhere else. Nowhere else do you have an opportunity to graduate with three work experiences at potentially top clubs, earn your college degree, and become a Class "A" PGA Professional. Don't take your internships for granted because they will surely determine your short and long term paths as a golf professional.