Alumna Turns Passion For Sport Into Profession
|A third-generation golfer, Jennifer Heinz Borocz was introduced to the sport by her dad when she was 11. She became the first graduate from the College of Business Administration's PGA golf management program in 2009 and has gone on to coach women's golf at Jacksonville University in Florida. —Submitted photos|
Starting out at Sam Houston State University as a nursing major, alumna Jennifer Heinz Borocz quickly discovered her passion lay elsewhere—on the rolling green hills of the golf course.
As the first graduate of SHSU’s PGA golf management program in 2009, she is now coaching the women’s golf team at Jacksonville University in Florida.
With the success of her own academic and professional journey in focus, she said that she sees great value in SHSU’s golf management program.
“Changing my major to golf management was the best thing that could have happened to me,” Borocz said. “I feel that what I have learned through the program will lead me to an outstanding career in the golf industry.”
Originally from Minnesota, Borocz was involved in many sports growing up, including baseball, hockey, bandy, softball, basketball and golf. She said she has been playing golf, a game she learned with her dad, since age 11.
She came to SHSU on scholarship with intentions of playing golf year round on the women’s golf team and quickly learned that the driving range was the only place she wanted to be.
Borocz said that after meeting with PGA golf management director Rich Ballinger, she immediately knew the field was her calling, remembering her love of sports as a kid. She decided to switch to golf management from pre-nursing when the university earned accreditation for the program.
“My grandfather played golf six days a week with his friends but I didn’t get into it until my dad began,” Borocz said. “I didn’t really take golf seriously until college as I was so busy with other sports. I could have played softball or basketball in college, but I chose golf because it is a lifelong sport. I am very happy with my decision as it has become my career.”
After changing her major, Borocz had the opportunity to participate in monthly PGA Golf Management Student Association meetings and monthly golf tournaments. As one of the outstanding students of the program, she attended the PGA Golf Management Leadership program and qualified for the PGA Golf Management National Championship (Jones Cup), where she finished second individually.
|While coaching, Borocz still actively and competitively golfs. In 2011, she won the PGA of America's "Women's Stroke Play" championship as part of the association's annual winter championships, held in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Women's Stroke Play is one of six winter championships in which female PGA members from the entire country participate. In 2010, Borocz finished second at the event and tied for fourth place in 2012.|
The road to her job as a golf coach and as a golf professional led Borocz to a lot of hands-on experiences on the field with internships.
“When I was enrolled in the PGA golf management program, I interned at three different facilities for a total of 16 months,” Borocz said. “I worked with the TPC Network, which is owned and operated by the PGA TOUR. I was offered a full time position and I spent six months at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn., and six months at TPC Sawgrass, a resort facility in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., which annually hosts The Players Championship, unofficially considered the fifth major on the PGA TOUR schedule.”
It was these experiences with the golf management program through SHSU, Borocz said, that allowed her to become the kind of real-world professional she is today.
“I had instruction in the player development program, which is designed to help students pass the PGA of America’s playing ability test, as well as all of these great experiences as an undergraduate,” Borocz said. “My internship experiences were so beneficial to my job now, and the guidance I received through the PGA of America’s educational program was second to none.”
Ballinger said that the program “could not have picked a better representative.”
“A student who is able to complete the program and participate on the golf team takes a very disciplined and organized student,” Ballinger said. “Not only did Jennifer do it, she excelled, graduating cum laude with a 3.58 grade point average.”
Part of the reason Borocz represents the PGA golf management program well is because, as Ballinger said, she honestly believes in the sport and its growth.
“Jennifer was an excellent student, a very good player and was extremely driven,” Ballinger said. ”I knew that she would be very successful in the golf business and that the sky would be the limit for her.”
Following graduation, Borocz was offered a full time position with the TPC Network, where she had interned before, thanks to her hard work and dedication, Ballinger said.
“We boast 100 percent job placement upon graduation and continue our relationship with the students past graduation,” Ballinger said. “I have even helped students find their second jobs. I tell graduates that our relationship will continue for the rest of their lives and that I am here to help them in any way I can. I enjoy my job very much with my favorite part being the relationships that are created with the students. It is very rewarding to watch a student come in as a freshman and watch them grow and mature and turn into young respectable professionals.”
As a golf professional, Ballinger said that it is their job to be “the experts in the game and business of golf.”
“Primarily our graduates will go to work in what we call the green grass side of the golf business, at the golf course or driving range,” Ballinger said. “Our graduates will typically take a position as an assistant golf professional and hope to work their way up to eventually becoming a head golf professional, director of golf or general manager at a golf facility (private, public, or resort).”
He added that the day-to-day responsibilities include overseeing the business side of golf, but can also encompass a wide range of jobs.
“The positions include teaching golf, tournament operations, merchandising and inventory management, staff management, and all of the business skills associated with running a facility,” Ballinger said. “Other graduates have gone into expanded career opportunities such as a manufacturer representative for apparel and equipment companies. Essentially, if the job is golf related a person can maintain their membership in the PGA of America.”
Borocz said that the number of female PGA professionals is 3.5 percent, approximately 800 out of 23,000 professionals. And although she has excelled in a field that is predominately a male profession, she still feels that the game of golf is a more level playing field.
“I don’t think of it as a predominately male sport, and for the most part, men have respected me and my game,” Borocz said. “There is a difference in yardage; women only play at 85 percent of the total yardage that the male professionals play. But as for the future of the sport, I think it will continue to grow on young and old golfers, men and women. It’s a game that can be played your entire life.”
These days, Borocz hasn’t looked back from her decision to leave nursing and pursue the game of golf. And while she is busy being a mom and coaching students at Jacksonville University, she still has some big dreams in mind, she said.
And she has plans to keep playing golf, of course.
“I had a great start in the industry,” Borocz said. “I want to be able to pass along my knowledge of the game to others and to give back to the game that has been so good to me.”
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