Next in Line
By Hayden Lewis, PGA / Wednesday, March 31, 2021
MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (March 31, 2021) – As the 2021 golf season kicks into gear so too do the businesses for clubs and facilities across Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Accordingly the golf boom has, without a doubt, carried over into this season. The Section plays host to over 85 PGA Assistant Golf Professionals and Associates who work in varying roles to bring the game of golf to people from all walks of life. More than likely when you step into a golf shop, the Assistant Professional or the Associate at the facility is standing behind the counter welcoming you to your next step along your golf journey.
PGA Assistant Golf Professionals and Associates play a vital role in any golf operation. Sometimes wearing two, three or even four different hats – it’s a position that requires a multitude of skills and an indelible knowledge and love for golf. It begs the question, what does it take to continue moving forward in this industry – what is considered success? This question can be answered in a variety of ways based on who you talk to. For the Third Annual Assistants’ Summit, the Section invited Steve Archer, PGA (Director of Golf at Capital City Club in Atlanta) and Jeff Orkus (General Manager at CC of Birmingham) to join Eric Eshleman and dive deeper into these questions. The evening began with a limited social hour in the Country Club of Birmingham’s main clubhouse for attendees to interact and network with one another. After dinner was served, the panelists spoke to the 32-person audience about different topics ranging from their story about how they got involved in the industry and what they have seen throughout their careers. “You really have to love it,” said Steve Archer to the group. “What kept me coming back was my love for the game and the people I get to interact with.” Archer, who received a job as Assistant Golf Professional from Bob Ford, PGA at Oakmont Country Club back in the early 2000s, says this opportunity cemented his passion for the game and the path he has led in the industry. Jeff Orkus, General Manager at the Country Club of Birmingham, commented on the work-life balance it takes to be successful in the industry. “I have a passion for making others feel good, so I think I am in the perfect spot here at CCB,” says Jeff. “It’s easy to let the workload intimidate you sometimes. I think it’s important to be mindful of what this will look like if and when you start a family. If you do start a family, it’s imperative communication is open.”
The Alabama–NW Florida Golf Foundation introduced the Assistants’ Summit back in 2019 with one goal in mind: to engage the next generation of PGA Professionals and help them develop a meaningful career in the golf industry. Over the last three years, the Foundation has hosted over 120 PGA Professionals and Associates for this newfound tradition. “The big question is, now that golf is in this boom, how are we going to stay relative for the flocks of people coming to our game?” says Foundation President, Eric Eshleman, PGA. “We are committed to equipping these women and men who have said ‘yes’ to a career in golf. It’s just the right thing to do for our game and the industry because they are next in line. Our Assistant PGA Professionals and Associates get to make this game special for the next generation.”
The Alabama–NW Florida PGA and its Foundation are committed to ensuring each PGA Member and Associate have the resources necessary to develop their career. “We will continue to be innovative in creating unique events that both engage young PGA Professionals and help them build lasting careers,” says Hayden Lewis, PGA Manager of Communications & Foundation Development. “It will be exciting to add on to this tradition for years to come.”
ABOUT THE ALABAMA–NW FLORIDA GOLF FOUNDATION
The mission of the Alabama – NW Florida Golf Foundation is to positively impact the lives of those who reside in the state of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle through community outreaches, programs and initiatives the game of golf provides. The Foundation has three (3) main areas it will focus is programming and outreach on – these include engaging youth, military communities and diverse populations with the PGA Section. Our dream: create life-changing opportunities through the game of golf.