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Careers in Golf: Tour Management and Event Planning

Aug 18, 2014

Whether it’s The Masters, a state championship or a relaxed fundraiser, golf tournaments are big business. Consequently, tour management and event planning can be a solid place to build a golf career.

Let’s start with the pros. Televised golf has increased the number of golf fans and players. USGA Championships, PGA and LPGA tour events are massive in scope. As many as 40,000 fans come out to watch the pros play at a tournament, while millions more tune in from home. It’s fair to say that smoothly run events are vital to the growth of the game.

At the professional tour level, there are multiple layers of positions planning and directing the tournament itself. There are also opportunities in food and beverage, sponsorships, merchandise, media relations and as a rules official.

Beth Pinkney, class of '94 grad, was the Championship Director of the 2008 U.S. Women's Open and is the Executive Director of the 2015 National Senior Games.

Jobs on professional tours can be tough to acquire, as turnover in these positions is generally low. Experience is key, explained Tim Eberlein, Campus Director at Golf Academy of America in Phoenix. You also must have, “Basic knowledge of rules of golf, course set-up and preparation, tournament formats, staffing, sales and organizational skills.”  Volunteering at a major tour is a good way to build your resume, and the PGA of America offers a tournament operations certification.

But golf tournaments aren’t just for professionals. Competitive amateur events and not-so-competitive recreational or fundraising events happen every day. Golf associations, corporations, resorts and charities often employ their own event planning staff.

“Tour event management and event planning seem to be similar on the outer layer,” Brad Kirkman, National Director of Golf Instruction at Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach, said. “However, managing a professional event that takes place once a year and then the job of an Event Planner who assists in planning a one-day golf event, then a wedding, then an Easter egg hunt at the local Country Club are very different in scope.”

The commonality is the need for a disciplined individual. After all, tournament directors and event planners only have one chance to get it right. For those looking to enter this job market, “Organization and people skills are essential,” said Kirkman. “Being proactive is a must.”

Jim Hart, President of Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach, added that you must “love game and love to manage a well-run event. There are often long hours at the event site--dawn to dusk many times.” In short, tour management and event planning work can be hard, but the rewards are great.