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Buzz Gill, Director of Career Services, Reflects on Arnold Palmer and Pete Dye

Nov 7, 2013

Buzz Gill, director of career services on the Golf Academy of America (GAA) – San Diego campus, has spent 42 years as a PGA professional. Like quite a few GAA instructors and staff, he’s worked at golf clubs where legendary pros putted the greens and walked off with PGA trophies.

When we were chatting with Gill the other day, Arnold Palmer’s name came up. Gill nodded his head, smiled and confirmed that, yes, Arnold Palmer is everything he appeared. “He never turned down an autograph or walked away from someone who was talking to him,” Gill recalls. “He knew probably better then anybody what made him famous, and he never forgot that. Nowadays, Phil Mickelson is the new Arnold Palmer. He treats people with dignity and respect.”

The conversation then turned to Palmer’s progression into designing courses. “You know who taught him about that?” asked Gill. “ Pete Dye.” More big tournaments have been hosted on courses designed by Dye than any other modern architect, Gill said. Dye designed Crooked Stick, Whistling Straits, and his most famous creation was TPC Sawgrass, which hosts golf’s fifth major, The Players Championship.

Gill had the privilege of getting to know Dye while working for Landmark Land Co. “He was one of the greatest characters known in golf,” Gill says. “Funny and a great player, though he never turned pro.”

As the head of operations, Gill recalls witnessing Dye actually lay out a new course. “When we built the first course with Landmark called Oak Tree, there was nothing out there but dirt and trees. We laid the plans on the hood of the pickup. When Dye saw those, he crumpled them up and said, ‘I don’t use plans.’ Then he started walking forward and putting stakes in the ground and saying things like, ‘This is a tee…and this will be a green…’ That imagination of his made some of the best courses in the game.”

That’s the added value of enrolling at GAA. You learn from PGA professionals who have not only worked in the industry, but may have interacted with and learned from the legends of golf, which lends an added layer of depth to being a GAA graduate.

To learn more about the curriculum and PGA staff at Golf Academy of America — San Diego, visit our website here.