Working behind the scenes at The Masters

  • Golf management student lands Augusta National intern gig

    Friday, March 29, 2019
    Lane Dillon

    UMES sophomore Lane Dillon's 10-day stint as an intern at Augusta National Golf Club during the 2019 Masters tournament provided up-close access to sports history he'll undoubtedly remember the rest of his life.

    Tiger Woods shocked the golf world by winning his fifth green jacket following years of health and personal woes that even Woods thought two years ago had derailed his career.  Woods, who has supported UMES' golf management program with a donation, now trails only the legendary Jack Nicklaus, who has won a record six Masters tournaments.

    Dillon, at least outwardly, said before heading to Georgia that he felt no pressure associated with living up to tournament tournament organizers' exacting standards of decorum and lofty expectations to stage a flawless event. 

    “I'm about as cool as they come,” the golf management major said. “I've been in situations where I've been uncomfortable and I just focus on persevering.” 

    Dillon has been a serious golfer for just three years. In high school, he was a left-hand hitting centerfielder on Stephen Decatur's baseball team in nearby Berlin, and played one semester of junior college baseball before enrolling at UMES. 

    When he picked up golf clubs, Dillon found he had superior hand-eye coordination right-handed and quickly parlayed that into carding a passing score on a playing-ability test, a pre-requisite all students in PGA-accredited programs must meet.

    Dillon was among a select group of college students majoring in golf management invited to Augusta National, a former nursery where azaleas were cultivated until its 1933 conversion into a lush, rolling golf course, and was told he would assist with a program for VIP patrons called the “Masters' Putting Experience.” 

    He described the assignment as caddie-instructor-ambassador interacting with corporate executives who get a little-publicized inside-the-ropes experience of putting on a specially built Masters' green. 

    Which, Dillon said, is equivalent to rolling a golf ball atop a polished table; the ball travels fast and doesn't always go where the golfer intended. 

    Dillon is quick to credit the work by the small faculty, led by his father, Billy, to build a credible golf management program as well as students who came before him and have gone on to have success as PGA professionals across the country. 

    UMES' golf management students the past two years have embraced a national clothing drive sponsored by the Pros Fore Clothes Foundation that recycles gently used golf attire to help the needy. One of the foundation's founders is a former Augusta National club pro and he urged UMES students to pursue the Masters' week internship opportunity. 

    “For us to be able to accomplish what we have in just 10 years, I'd like to think this (opportunity) is eye-opening for the rest of the golf industry,” Dillon said. 

    Dillon said he understands the responsibility that accompanies having a behind-the-scenes role at a Masters' tournament, one of America's signature sporting events. 

    “I'm just down there to work,” he said, adding, “Just being able to be there is an honor.” 

    The internship, Dillon acknowledged, also has potential to be “the best networking opportunity anyone (the UMES program) has ever had. I take it very seriously.” 

    Asked his reaction when he learned in early February he had been picked to work the 2019 Masters' tournament, a matter-of-fact smile crossed Dillon's face. 

    “It's Augusta National,” he said. “There's nothing more I can say.”