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Golf Program Lets Students ‘Take A Swing’ At Their Dreams

April 5, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Sara Thompson

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Raven NestAs the afternoon sun illuminates the rolling greens of Raven Nest Golf Club, Sam Houston State University senior Eric Voltin tees off into the distance, the mellow springtime weather hinting one thing especially meaningful.

It’s his favorite time of year again—golf season.

At SHSU, golf is more than a sport.

Sam Houston State University is a place where avid student golfers like Voltin come to fulfill an aspiration.

Through the university’s Professional Golfers Association of America-accredited PGA Golf Management program, these students are given the chance to turn a lifetime passion into a career.

It’s an opportunity Voltin does not take for granted.

“The program here at SHSU has given me an excellent opportunity to gain the experience and knowledge to succeed in a career in the golf industry,” said Voltin. “I can’t imagine another university that tailors so perfectly to a golfer’s desires.”

SHSU is one of only 20 universities in the nation—including the only university in Texas—to offer the PGA Golf Management program.

The program came to SHSU in the fall of 2005, offered through the university’s College of Business Administration, which is acclaimed by the world’s highest accreditation for business schools, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.

In the eyes of the program’s director, Rich Ballinger, his graduates leave the program well prepared for wherever the profession will take them.

“Upon successful completion, students earn a degree in general business administration, a specialization in PGA Golf Management and a class A membership in the PGA of America,” said Ballinger.

The program not only gives its students guaranteed unlimited access to play and practice golf locally, it also gives them access to some of the country’s best courses through the internship program.

Requiring 16 months of internship work, the program routinely sends SHSU students exclusively to top 100 clubs nationwide to train with the sport’s professionals.

“We have already placed our students in 32 of the 50 states in the first six years,” Ballinger said. “Our students have even worked championship events like The Players Championship and the PGA Championship, hosted at TPC Sawgrass and Medinah Country Club, respectively.”

Even after their training is complete, the program’s 100 percent job placement guarantees students will continue sharing the green with golf’s biggest names all throughout their career, Ballinger said.

Amidst the limitless rounds of golf, hours of studying, and interning all over the nation, there is one last part of the PGM program that shows the true devotion of its students.

According to Ballinger, one goal of this program is to promote and grow the game of golf by giving back to the community.

This month, Sam Houston State University’s PGM students are doing just that through their third annual “Free Lesson Fridays” program.

During the event, members of the local community are invited to the Raven Nest Golf Club for free weekly lessons from the students in the university’s PGA Golf Management program.

According to Voltin, who has participated in the event for the past two years, the event provides a fun and family-friendly Friday afternoon for anyone who attends.

“The event gives the entire community a chance to get outdoors, get some exercise and learn about golf,” Voltin said. “Everyone can have a good time out at the course, whether they’re a golfer or not.”

Local golfers are especially encouraged to come out and PGA Golf Management students are willing to assist in whatever aspect of their game they feel needs some help.

“Our students have given lessons on anything from pitching, chipping, putting, and full swing lessons,” said Ballinger. “People have also came to us with a particular area they would like to work on.”

For Voltin, the hours of volunteer work are just another rewarding aspect a program that has changed his life and helped him attain his own “career of a lifetime.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that anyone in this program will look back and appreciate the time and effort they put into it,” said Voltin. “It is truly one of the best experiences of my life.”

For more information on the PGA Golf Management program, contact Ballinger at 936.294.4810.



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