Par for the course: UMES awards 1st golf management degrees

  • Friday, December 14, 2012

    Par for the course: UMES awards first golf management degree

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Dec. 14, 2012) - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore awarded 273 degrees at today's 16th winter commencement, including seven that went to members of  the first class to graduate from its golf management program. 

    Among family, friends and guests who witnessed the two-hour graduation exercises were officials from the PGA of America, the sanctioning body that authorizes UMES to offer the highly specialized course of study.

    "I've had a great experience here," Brian Anderson said. "I grew up (in Westminster, Md.) playing golf. It was something I was good at and now I have a degree to make that work for me."

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    UMES is one of 20 universities in the country with such an undergraduate degree that combines instruction in the hospitality industry and playing competitive golf at the professional level.

    Zach Allen of Baltimore said he valued the opportunity to be among the first group accepted into the program that launched in 2008.

    "The prospect of being part of something new was just the kind of challenge I was looking for" in college, Allen said. "I think we feel we got a lot of personal attention from (the) faculty and I've learned a lot about the industry."

    Six of the seven, including Allen and Anderson, graduated with honors.

    Billy Dillon, the golf management program director, said on graduation day that six members of the class - Anderson and Allen among them - have jobs waiting for them, and the seventh is close to accepting an offer.

    "It's hard to find good people in this profession," Dillon said, "and our guys are good."

    Golf management students are enrolled year-round and must fulfill a requirement to do field work under the supervision of a working PGA professional.

    Anderson, a "scratch" handicap golfer, said he learned a lot about merchandizing, including selecting the right inventory, displaying it in a way that makes it appealing and pricing it to sell.

    "It was very much a hands-on experience," said Anderson, who did field work at a country club in Montgomery County. He'll be starting work soon at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md.

    Allen spent time at River Bend County Club in Great Falls, Va., where he's been invited back to work as an assistant pro starting in March 2013.

    "One of the things I took away from the experience was learning to organize tournaments," Allen said. "It's not as easy as it might sound. It's important to do it right, because you are working in a business where people have high standards." 

    Watching from the third row as the newly minted graduates stepped forward to receive their degrees; Dillon described his emotions in one word: "Pride."

    "It's what we're here for," Dillon said, "to produce graduates who are members of the PGA