Tee Time: A Conversation with a Head Golf Professional
Jessie Apt graduated in 2015 with degrees in Professional Golf Management and Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. She now works in Latin America as a head golf professional. We sat down to talk about her career and journey in the golf industry.
What is a typical day in your job like?
As head golf professional my schedule varies widely depending on events, meetings, golf lessons and projects. The golf club usually hosts a few corporate golf events each month and five major member golf tournaments throughout the year. In my position, I have the opportunity to work with the golf coordinator in enhancing each of our events. This includes all aspects, such as establishing tournament format, rules, promotion of the event, course set up, sponsor stations and running the event on days of play.
Last year I had the great opportunity to coordinate the three-day golf tournament for the XIV Pan American Maccabi Games with over 90 players from 10 different countries. I also oversee the planning and implementation of group golf lessons and the Junior Golf Academy, which are constantly innovating with new golf practices.
Other projects that I’ve been working on for the facility include online tournament sign-ups, working with software developers for a new tee-time reservation system, preparing teams for the yearly inter-club state matches and constant improvements to our operations and member experience.
What inspired you to study Professional Golf Management?
I have been playing golf since I was six years old in my home club, La Paz Golf Club in Bolivia. The golf industry is very small in my country and golf is a sport only very few play. At first, I was planning on studying Hospitality and Tourism, but as I began my college search and applications, I found out about the Professional Golf Management program and began researching all about it.
At the time I was training at my home club in the Junior Golf Academy with Luiz Martins, who was also a great inspiration and someone I looked up to. After discussing with him what I read about Professional Golf Management as a major and a career as a golf professional in other countries, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in golf.
Where did you complete your internships? How did these experiences prepare you for work in your field?
As part of the PGM program, we get to complete three internships. I was very lucky for the places I had the opportunity to do my internships and the people I met through each one. My first internship was during the summer after my freshman year, I went to work at the main golf shop at Pinehurst Resort. This was a great eye-opener to the golf industry, especially at such a large facility.
For my second internship, I got to spend seven months living in Costa Rica working at Four Seasons Resort. I was given a lot of responsibility in the running of the day-to-day operations as well as events at the golf course, making it a great fast-paced learning experience.
I completed my third and last internship at Ritz-Carlton Grand Lakes in Orlando, Florida. This experience was unique in the way I got to rotate and work in several positions throughout my seven-month internship, working outside services, the golf shops, golf concierge and assisting in the club restaurant as well. All these internships have prepared me as I have learned from some of the top golf professionals and at great facilities.
What was your favorite experience in the PGA Golf Management program?
My favorite experience I’ve had through the program have been the internships, as well as being a part of the PGM Student Organization. Internships were a great opportunity for hands-on learning and to really identify what I want to do in the golf industry. Being a part of the executive board in the PGM Student Organization, I was able to give back to the program that has given so much to me. During my time I began the position of Alumni Relations Coordinator, connecting first-year students with alumni from our program. This led to a yearly alumni and current student reunion at the PGA Show each year.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give a current College of Natural Resources student?
For students currently in college, I highly recommend taking advantage of the internship opportunities to go work at some great golf facilities to gain experience and build relationships with golf professionals. You never know who may help you coming out of college or where those connections could lead you.
Take advantage of the opportunities in student organizations to build leadership and give back to your program or community. It can be easy to just hang out with the people you always see and stick to your group, but you can meet so many people through different organizations and gain some valuable experience.