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Tee Time: A Conversation With a Golf Journalist

Sean Fairholm on golf course - Tee Time: A Conversation With a Golf Journalist - College of Natural Resources News NC State University
Photo courtesy of Sean Fairholm.

Sean Fairholm graduated in 2014 with a degree in Professional Golf Management and a minor in Journalism. He’s now putting his passion for golf and journalism to work as a golf writer for Global Golf Post.

What is a typical day in your job like?

I’m fortunate to work for a tremendous publication in Global Golf Post where I get to take on a variety of responsibilities. Some days are all about writing, some are about interviewing sources, some are about marketing our content and some are about editing. It keeps the job fresh and engaging, all in the name of solid journalism.

One of the best parts of the work is that I split my time between being at home and covering tournaments. There are parts of the country I probably never would have gone to had it not been for those assignments, so I enjoy the adventure component while getting to tell detailed stories about influential people.

What inspired you to study Professional Golf Management?

I started playing golf at the age of 8 when my dad introduced me to the game. It became quite an obsession from that point forward. I’ve always been an independent soul who loves a good challenge, so golf fit my personality remarkably well.

I remember being a freshman at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and seeing a commercial for PGA Golf Management universities that offered a chance to get into the golf industry while still having the full college experience. I had zero idea that even existed.

I wasn’t fully sure what I wanted to do in golf, but I knew it was something I was extremely passionate about pursuing. Being able to study golf at a highly respected university like NC State couldn’t have been a better fit. I visited campus on a cold, rainy January day with my parents, and I felt an immediate connection to the Wolfpack family. It was just home to me. When the student services coordinator at the time, Susan Colby, showed me Lonnie Poole Golf Course and the facilities they had planned, I had already made my decision.

Where did you complete your internship(s)? How did these experiences prepare you for work in your field?

In my opinion, the best part of the PGA Golf Management program is the extensive internship experience you go through. I started as a junior professional at Croasdaile Country Club in Durham, a small private course. It was my first time working at a golf club, and I made every mistake you possibly could. The whole experience, while valuable, proved to me that I actually didn’t want to work at a golf course. That scared me because I came to NC State to do exactly that.

It was right around this time when I discovered I actually wanted to write about golf. I had been working as a Deputy Sports Editor at Technician and found myself enamored with journalism. This led me to spend my second and third internships at PGA Magazine, a trade publication suited for PGA of America members. The connections I made there and the skills I developed allowed me to secure a job before I graduated. More than anything, it taught me about being accountable and organized so others could rely on me.

What was your favorite experience in the PGA Golf Management program?

My happiest time in PGM was always on the golf course. My freshman year, I had been selected to be the captain for our annual Ryder Cup between upperclassmen and lowerclassmen. The tournament came down to a playoff where I teamed with my friend Josh Rackley to play a couple of the upperclassmen — there must have been 30 or 40 golf carts following our group. We lost on the fifth playoff hole, but my lasting memory is more about the camaraderie.

Our major is a small, tight-knit group of men and women, so the friendships and mentorships are significant. You learn a lot about people from how they act on the golf course, and those bonds strengthen each time you play a round together.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give a current College of Natural Resources student?

There’s this misconception that if you know exactly what you want to do with your life, you are “way ahead” of those who aren’t sure. I’m convinced that’s not true. Some of the most passionate, productive people I know are full of uncertainty with what lies ahead. They pursue what interests them in the short-term, unencumbered by long-term plans or a stagnant perception of what they are “supposed” to be doing.

Sometimes young people feel pressured into believing they have to develop this all-encompassing career plan well before graduating college. It’s great to have convictions and ideas and hopes for what you want to accomplish, but they are naturally going to evolve. To borrow a line from Martin Luther King Jr., you don’t have to see the whole staircase — just take the first step.