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Alumni Newsletter - May 2013

May 14, 2013

Worth Knowing

If You Haven't Met Our New President, Allow Us to Introduce Him

GAA May 2013 Newsletter - Worth Knowing

A couple months ago, Jim Hart was named as the new president of GAA. Previous president Mike Largent will continue to serve in an executive role for Education Corporation of America (ECA), whose educational properties include GAA, Ecotech Institute, Virginia College, Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College and New England College of Business and Finance.

Hart holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida, where he lettered in golf three of his four years, and a masters degree in management from Webster University. Before coming to GAA, Hart served as tournament director and then CEO of the Carolinas Section PGA and in 2000 became president of Fair Way Golf Management, LLC, a company that owns and operates golf facilities throughout the Carolinas.

Hart joined ECA in 2008 as campus director of GAA's Myrtle Beach campus and will continue in that position while serving as GAA president.

Hart will be responsible for GAA's five campuses nationwide located in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Orlando, Fla., Dallas, Texas, Phoenix, Ariz., and San Diego, Calif. and the more than 1,000 students who are enrolled in the 16-month golf career training program. He will also oversee the 45 PGA professionals and four PGA master professionals, the largest collection of PGA-certified faculty and staff of any career golf college in the country.

"We are thrilled to offer Jim this position," said Tom Moore, president and chief executive officer of ECA. "His extensive experience in the golf industry shapes all he does and we regard him as an exemplary individual to lead Golf Academy of America to new heights. Our mission is to ensure that our graduates are prepared to meet the needs of employers across the golf industry and Jim's skills and background speak for themselves in that regard."


Check Out Our Students

185 Students Earn Associate Degrees in Golf Complex Operations and Management

185 Students Earn Associate Degrees in Golf Complex Operations and Management

A total of 185 students from GAA campuses — and the first thirteen to graduate from the Dallas campus — earned an associate degree in Golf Complex Operations and Management during separate graduation ceremonies on April 19.

"These students put in a lot of hard work and all of them are now well prepared to step into golf career opportunities anywhere in the world," said Jim Hart, president of Golf Academy of America. "Our students are some of the best-trained and most knowledgeable golf career professionals in the industry. When they leave Golf Academy of America, they are recognized as the future golf professionals who will lead this industry."

Way to Impress the Ladies…PGA

Way to Impress the Ladies…PGA

A member of the LPGA at a recent LPGA event in Dallas had a student from the Dallas campus — Zac Brown — as her caddy. He impressed her so much that she has requested Zac to join her as her caddy in her next tournament.

Just one of the amazing opportunities that GAA students have to strive for their goals and we are pleased to acknowledge Zac's impressive performance.

Veteran Goes From The Barracks To Golf Academy

Veteran Goes From The Barracks To Golf Academy
Eladio "Junior" Garcia, 24-year-old veteran, stands next his Military Intelligence Corps diploma and holds one of his golf clubs in his living room. Photo credit: Elvia Limon

by Caren Rodriguez

Eladio Garcia never imagined golf being a part of his life. He also thought he would never join the U.S. Army.

But Garcia, who goes by "Junior," has a way of surprising himself and those around him. The 24-year-old joined the U.S. Army on a "spur of the moment" and found a love for golf after a buddy, who is still in the service, challenged him to a round.

Now, Garcia is attending the Golf Academy of America in Dallas and plans to become a golf instructor. He said he plans to obtain his golf complex operations and management applied business associates degree in December.

Garcia started playing golf about a year and a half ago. Kevin Duncan, Garcia's best friend who's still in the service, introduced him to the sport. Garcia said he thought golf was silly, but was amazed to find out he enjoyed it after playing a game with Duncan. He's still "trying to figure out" why he likes golf so much.

"I just think it's really fun to play," he said. "On Fridays we take like a 12-pack of beer, we have our phones playing music and we're just out there having fun, hitting golf balls."

Garcia's road to a career in golf began in Wylie, Texas where he was born, though he spent most of his life in nearby Garland. After graduating from Rowlett High School in 2008, he enrolled in Richland Community College at his parent's recommendation. After half a semester, Garcia decided he wanted to do something else with his life.

"I tried doing the whole college thing right when I got out, but I didn't like it, so I enlisted," he said.

Joining the Army so suddenly upset his father, but his mother and brother were supportive.

"He [my dad] didn't want me to join the Army, he was like, 'You're going to die,'" Garcia said.

Three months later, Garcia would be on his way to Fort Jackson, S.C. for basic training and would find himself in Iraq just six months later after only being in the Army for nine months.

David Castro, a friend of Garcia for 17 years, feared for his friend's life when he headed to Iraq, but also felt respect for him.

"I thought it was brave because it was something I wish I could do, but know I would never have the guts to," Castro said.

Garcia said his deployment was a frightening prospect.

"I was scared because I didn't know anything about Iraq," he said. "But then we all got there, and it ended up being, like, actually really fun."

He was in the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division and in the Special Troops Battalion with the Alpha Company Agents. Garcia was an unmanned aerial vehicle operator. He said the UAVs he worked with were not combat-style, but for surveillance and battlefield intelligence. Garcia would control the camera on the UAV to help soldiers in the field.

Even though Garcia was not on the frontlines, he was aware he was in a war zone.

"I just kept hearing these booms," he said. "It was my first week there. My roommate said the base was getting bombed."

The attacks sounded like fireworks. He said he was frightened at first, but after two or three months of being bombed occasionally, he became accustomed to the noise. When the bombs got louder they would head down to the bunkers for safety. At one point, Garcia said the base was bombed while he was in the shower, but didn't get out because he had heard the noises before.

Garcia associates his time in Iraq as a "long vacation." He said all the units in the base created a flag football league to entertain themselves. They would also buy bootleg DVD's and watch movies and multiple seasons of shows in a short period. Every Wednesday, the troops would have a salsa-themed party at the base's hookah bar.

"I think it was basically to get our minds off of being in Iraq," he said of the different activities.

After nearly a year in Iraq, he was sent to Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas. He said the next two years were like a long celebration. When they weren't training or working, his platoon would travel to nearby cities like Las Vegas, Nev.; Albuquerque, N.M. and Ruidoso, N.M. After four years, he decided to not re-enlist, partly because he was bored with his duties, but mostly because he forgot to file the paperwork to extend his contract.

Garcia now spends his days on the golf greencourse. He is enrolled in a rigorous program at the Golf Academy of America, which was voted as one of Military Advanced Education's top military-friendly colleges and universities.

Garcia's friend of 19 years, Jose Rodriguez, was taken aback when he found out his friend was attending a golf academy.

"It was surprising to me because we grew up playing soccer and baseball. I never knew he liked golf," Rodriguez said. "I feel like he made the right decision by going to the Army because it taught him discipline and how to be responsible."


At Our Campuses

GAA Instructor Makes Appearance on Golf Channel's Morning Drive

GAA Instructor Makes Appearance on Golf Channel's Morning Drive

Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development founder and PGA Professional Brendon Elliott appeared on the Golf Channel's Morning Drive on Tuesday April 23rd along with PGA of America Honorary President, Allen Wronowski and LPGA Legend and newly appointed PGA of America Independent Director, Dottie Pepper.

The threesome talked about all things "junior golf," including PGA of America initiatives for young golfers. Elliott also spoke about his Little Linksters 501c3 and its programming. Elliott is the founder of Little Linksters, LLC and the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development 501c3. These organizations focus on working with and introducing children ages 3-8 to golf.

The long-range goal of the 501c3 nonprofit is to institute Little Linksters branded programming throughout the United States and help foster the personal growth of children through the game of golf, as well as grow the game in general starting with its youngest participants and their families. In addition to administrating Little Linksters, Elliott is also a PGA Staff instructor at the Golf Academy of America in Orlando, Fla.

GAA Phoenix Visits Yuma Marine Air Base

GAA Phoenix Visits Yuma Marine Air Base
Left: Golf Academy of America Phoenix graduate and Golf Academy of America Manager Military Education Partnerships, Chauncey Mitchell, engaging with an interested Marine
Center: Golf Academy of America Phoenix Campus Director and PGA Master Professional with interested Marine
Right: Golf Academy of America Phoenix Campus Director and PGA Master Professional with 27 Marine Veteran Mike Montoya who will be attending Golf Academy of America in August 2014

As part of GAA's recruiting efforts, GAA actively engages our country's service members and veterans.

Recently, faculty of GAA Phoenix visited the Yuma Military base.

The GAA curriculum is approved for the training of veterans and persons eligible for VA educational benefits, including tuition assistance and military education benefits. Call 877.824.4245 to speak directly with a military education professional.

GAA San Diego Participates in the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation Event

GAA San Diego Participates in the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation Event

On Saturday, April 27, 2013, GAA San Diego participated in the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation event, at Goose Creek Golf Club in Mira Loma. As part of a charity drive, GAA collected and donated more than 800 clubs to the Foundation that are being housed at Goose Creek.

In the second annual Clubs Fore Christmas campaign, dozens of people exchanged their well-used golf clubs at GAA campuses for a complimentary half-hour lesson with GAA students and expert instructors.

GAA students well versed in club building and fitting then worked together to clean, re-grip, and re-shaft those clubs in order to prepare then to benefit the children of the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation and the First Tee of Phoenix.