The Carolinas PGA Section: Diversifying the Golf Industry through the PGA WORKS Fellowship
October 10, 2019 by PGA REACH
PGA REACH, the 501(c)3 charitable foundation of the PGA of America, launched the PGA WORKS Fellowship program in 2017, to offer emerging, diverse talent, a one-year, paid immersion experience within a PGA Section’s Foundation, as well as an up-close view of potential career opportunities. Since its inception, nine program alumni have received full-time jobs in the golf industry, including four who are pursuing PGA Membership.
Through workforce diversification, the Carolinas PGA Section is helping to create a paradigm shift for the golf industry. Utilizing the PGA REACH Carolinas Foundation, the Section was one of the first to participate in the PGA WORKS Fellowship. This opportunity has introduced golf career possibilities to diverse candidates. In fact, following their Fellowships, the Section hired its first two Fellows full-time.
“We saw so many benefits from our first Fellow that we knew we needed this program to continue,” said Carolinas Section Executive Director Jeff Abbot. “Having a PGA WORKS Fellow is a wonderful addition to our staff, especially with the execution and promotions of our programming for juniors and military. Our Fellows represent PGA WORKS’ mission to attract diverse talent to work in the industry.”
While the PGA WORKS Fellowship is different for each PGA Section, the Carolinas PGA Section has focused on professional development. After hiring its first two Fellows following their one-year terms, the Section recently appointed a new Fellow for the role, Gaby Rivera-Garcia, who is originally from Puerto Rico, and a recent graduate of Chowan University.
“Before working in the PGA WORKS Fellowship, I didn’t even know what the PGA of America was,” admitted Jessica Asbury, Carolinas PGA Section PGA REACH Coordinator. “After going through the program and experiencing it, the golf industry is something I want to be in for the rest of my life.”
“I owe most of my professional development to the PGA WORKS Fellowship,” added the Section’s Event Coordinator Telvin Walker. “Without the Fellowship, I wouldn’t have my position. It’s changed my life for the better, because it’s the best thing to ever happen to me.”
Walker and Rivera both posted PAT qualifying scores while competing in college and are both considering PGA membership.
“Introducing a recent college graduate to the business of golf is what this Fellowship is all about,” added Carolinas PGA Section Assistant Executive Director Kurt Battenburg, PGA. “We promise each Fellow when they start that we will do all we can to help them find a career in golf.”
In 2018, the Section honored the legacy of the late Sara “Sunny” Harris Hutchinson, by renaming the position as the Sunny Harris Hutchinson PGA WORKS Fellowship. Hutchinson was the daughter of Quail Hollow Club President Johnny Harris, and the Fellowship serves as a tribute to her memory.
Currently, there are Fellowships offered in 10 PGA Sections. This will expand to 13 Sections next year.
For more information on the PGA WORKS Fellowship program, contact PGA WORKS Specialist Rachel Mabee at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more stories on the PGA WORKS Fellowship, follow us @PGAWORKS on Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.