Today it was back to school! The school is PGA Level 2, and the place is the PGA Education Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida. A few things have changed since my first visit a little over a year ago. Most notably, the longtime “principal” of the school, PGA Senior Manager of Education Helene Bell, has retired after 30 years! After a brief introduction by Erik Nielsen (PGA), we dove right in to the Golf Operations Seminar Manual with Encanterra Country Club Director of Golf Operations Mark Black (PGA).
Encanterra, located in San Tan Valley, Arizona holds a special place in my heart. It was the crown jewel among all the courses we had the pleasure of playing while I was at the Golf Academy. Mark used to run the PGA PGM Program at Arizona State where I went to school.
Despite what I had heard, he told us the reason ASU elected to close the program in 2011 was because President Michael Crow wanted to make ASU the “Harvard of the West.” It wasn’t that the program wasn’t successful or that it got a little too rowdy as I had heard. Mark told us the program was producing a 20:1 return on investment for the school. Hearing that, shutting it down sounds like a mistake if you ask me.
But enough about Mark. Each day is essentially a breakdown of the online course material. Mark and PGA Senior Education Faculty Member Debbie Foley (PGA) took turns reviewing different sections. This time around, I made sure to print out the Seminar Manuals in advance so I could take notes by hand as opposed to taking notes on my computer. So far, I have to say the whole return trip has been a lot less stressful than my first visit. I think that’s only natural when you have a better idea of what to expect when you get there.
This time there are only 41 people registered, although only 40 actually showed up because one guy missed his flight Sunday. How does that even happen? That’s only about 20% less than the 48 who registered for the Level 1 Seminar that I attended back in early August of last year. That’s not as big of a drop off as I was expecting. Maybe it’s a slower time of year for PGA Seminar attendance anyway. I will say that there were only four of us at the airport when we arrived unlike the circus that greeted us at baggage claim last year.
The big story of the day, of course, was the first total solar eclipse since 1979. The coverage in South Florida was actually pretty good, right around 83%. It’s only about 59% from where I’m from in Tucson. We got to take a break close to the peak viewing time of 2:55p to go out and view the event. All told, it lasted from about 1:23 until 4:00p. I have to say, it’s a little strange to see the moon blocking the sun, something I’ve obviously never seen before in-person. Here’s the schedule for the week:
PGA Level 2 Seminars
Monday (8:30a-5:30p) Welcome/Orientation, Golf Operations Seminar
Tuesday (8:30a-3:45p) Golf Operations Seminar
Wednesday (8:30a-4:45p) Review of Portfolio/Testing Procedures, Merchandising
Thursday (8:30a-5:20p) Intermediate Teaching and Golf Club Alteration
Friday (8:30a-6:00p) Intermediate Teaching and Golf Club Alteration
Weekly Lunch Menu (Sam Snead’s)
BBQ Monday – Pulled pork, barbecue chicken, potato salad, baked beans, salad
Fiesta Tuesday – Santa Rita chicken, rice, black beans, salad, chips and salsa
Mamma Mia Wednesday – Pasta with red sauce, chicken parmesan, garlic rolls, salad
Throwback Thursday – Salisbury steak, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad
Farewell Friday – Chicken caesar salad, soup, rolls
All meals come with either water or iced sweet or unsweet tea as well as cookies for dessert.
If You Want to Play
You can bring your golf clubs, but the opportunity to actually play nearby PGA Golf Club will depend on how fast you can play and, of course, the weather. In the summer, the sun doesn’t set in South Florida until well after 8:00p, but you’re also more than likely to encounter an afternoon thunderstorm. Depending on what time you get out of your Seminar, you could be cutting it close. But it’s pretty easy, and you’re encouraged to tee it up. You just have to find a way to get there.
All you have to do is add your name to the sign-up sheet at the front desk before 1:00p, and Laverne Verano will take care of the rest. The cost to play is $14.91. Rental sets are also available at no extra charge. If you’re a little more strapped for time (and money), you can also play the complimentary six-hole PGA Short Course. Shots vary anywhere from 35 to 60 yards, it takes about 30-45 minutes to play, and it requires nothing more than a wedge and putter to get around.
After dinner last night, a few of my classmates and I started working on our Level 2 Work Experience Portfolios. Without too much effort, we were able to get through the first four Activities under Golf Operations Introduction, which is roughly 10% of the Portfolio. It’s much easier than Level 1, and in fact, out of the 22 total activities, there are only two that even involve the Case Study from Level 1, so there’s basically no right or wrong answer.
Preview of Day 2: Golf Operations Seminar (8:30a-3:45p)
Golf Operations continued. There’s not a lot to write about here because a lot of it involves the nuts and bolts of the golf industry, the behind-the-scenes stuff if you will. It’s not all that glamorous as you might imagine. Tomorrow is the shortest day of the week by far. We get out almost an hour earlier than any other day, but it’s really just a target time. Don’t be surprised if your days last another 30-45 minutes longer than expected.
The Hilton Garden Inn threw us a “Draft Social Hour” at Sam Snead’s tonight right after the Seminar. Thanks to Director of Sales Francesca Tyler for hosting!
While the nightly dinner shuttle doesn’t run on Sunday nights, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the service when it’s back up and running on Monday. Dinner is the only meal for which you’re financially responsible. Take advantage and get out of the area for awhile!
Marvin will drive you to any one of 37 area restaurants on a pre-determined route within a two-and-half-mile radius between 6:00p and 9:00p each night. Any earlier or later than that, and you’ll have to call an Uber. But if it exists, Marvin will know where it is. He just recently celebrated his 12.5 year anniversary in June!