At UW-Stout, You Can Take a Swing at a Career in Golf
Golf Enterprise Management program preps future golf course managers, owners
With the prevalence of golf courses across the state and country, people are needed to handle the business end of the sport. The Golf Enterprise Management program at UW-Stout in Menomonie is designed for those interested in pursuing that career path. With data from the National Golf Foundation showing increases in both on-course and off-course (i.e. simulator) golf, students receiving a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in GEM have numerous opportunities for job placement.
Dr. Kristine Schoonover has directed Stout’s GEM program since the 2000s. She observes several reasons for the rise in golf engagement: the desire to be outside and exercise, the reduction in golf holding to traditions (such as clothing), the rise of simulators like Topgolf, and the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic bringing out a desire to socialize. “And for us in Wisconsin, with municipal, daily-fee, public access (holes), that was just a wonderful opportunity, and then you had these resort courses – all of those just continue to show what an amazing game it can be,” she said.
Dr. Kristine Schoonover, says UW-Stout’s Golf Management Program offers “a business degree with golf.”
To Dr. Schoonover, a student taking part in GEM receives “a business degree with golf.” When freshmen come into the program, she says many think of the sport from what they have seen on television. However, “understanding where all of our alumni are at” – with positions as tournament directors, managers, and even a course operator in Dallas, Wisconsin – shows new job pathways.
Additionally, one does not need to play the sport to succeed with the degree: “We have success in educating, teaching students an array of skills and opportunities they had not thought about.”
A Bachelor of Science degree in GEM can send its holder in multiple directions, Dr. Schoonover noted.
“Some will come on and take that skill because they have that skill and generate it as a career, as a first assistant or a director of golf,” she said. “And others, once they come into the program, all of a sudden they begin to realize: There’s so many components to the golf industry that I can find where my niche is, whether it’s food and beverage, whether it’s lessons, whether it’s apparel.”
Dr. Schoonover sees apparel, as well as women’s participation in all facets of golf, as some of the prime growth areas for the sport and its business. Job prospects are strong for those wanting to enroll in the Stout Golf Enterprise Management program. “It is the perfect time to be in it, to play it – we get to manage it.”
Learn more about the UW-Stout Golf Enterprise Management program here.