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Student and Alumni Newsletter - October 2013

Oct 17, 2013

What's Hot

GAA Earns Special Distinction — Again!

Military Friendly Colleges Seal

Education Corporation of America / GAA are so proud to have once again been named by Military Advanced Education Magazine as a Top Military Friendly College or University!

Worth Knowing

GAA Golf Marathon Honors Veterans & Active Military

As published in Florida Golf Central, Volume 14, Issue 4

GAA Golf Marathon Honors Veterans & Active Military

On Nov. 11, 2013, GAA will once again play its golf marathon in honor of veterans and active military personnel. By the end of the day the campuses will have played more than 1,000 holes of golf.

We are raising money for the Salute Military Golf Association and Wounded Warrior Project. If you would like to contribute, simply send your donation to any Golf Academy of America, Attn: Campus Director. Note on your donation that it is for the 11/11/13 event. Checks should be made payable to Salute Military Golf Association.

Check Out Our Campuses

Upcoming Event: Special Guest, Oct. 21

Free and open to public, Roger Fredericks speaking at GAA San Diego

Roger Fredericks

For more than 25 years, Roger is one of the True Pioneers of the Golf Fitness Movement as well as one of the most innovative instructors in the world. His infomercial "Roger Fredericks Reveals the Secrets of Golf Swing Flexibility," featuring Roger, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and others, is one of the industry's most successful infomercials and DVDs in the last 20 years. His book, "Roger Fredericks Reveals the Secrets of Golf Instruction and Flexibility," is currently the best selling book in the golf fitness category in Barnes and Nobles.

Roger will be the mid-term guest speaker at GAA San Diego. Mid-term week is Oct. 21 – 25 and Roger will be on campus Monday, Oct. 21 from noon – 2 p.m.


Tournament Director of the Champions Tour Visits GAA Orlando

Gene Smith

Gene Smith was guest speaker for Advanced Rules of Golf at GAA Orlando last month.

Gene Smith was hired as an assistant golf professional at The Bay Hill Club on March 11, 1970. He spent the next 24 years as a club manager and director of golf. During that time, Gene was involved in the politics of the PGA serving as President of the East Central Chapter in 1983-84, then as Treasurer, Vice President and President of the North Florida Section through 1991. He was appointed to the National PGA Rules Committee in 1986 and continues to serve on that committee today.

Gene was hired as a Rules Official by the Senior PGA Tour in October 1993, named Assistant Tournament Director in 1996, and became Tournament Director of the tour (now called the Champions Tour) in 2010. Our Orlando students were fortunate to have Gene serve as a guest speaker.


Top Teacher, Author Provided Clinics at GAA Phoenix

Gene Smith

Todd Sones spent four days at GAA Phoenix conducting putting clinics and classroom presentations to all the students.

Todd has been a full member of the PGA of America since 1985. He is one of the Top 100 Teachers in America as voted by Golf Magazine as well as one of Golf Digest's 'Americas 50 Greatest Teachers'. He also owns and operates the Todd Sones Impact Golf Center at White Deer Golf Club in Vernon Hills, Illinois, currently ranked 4th Best Golf School in the country by Golf Magazine. Most recently Todd was added to the list of the Top 50 Professionals Influencing the Growth of the Game by PGA Magazine.

Todd has worked with numerous PGA and LPGA Tour members such as Joe Duran, Robert Gamez, Scott McCarron, Paul Goydos, Steve Jones, Shaun Micheel, Jay Williamson, Stephanie Louden and 2003 Women's U.S. Open Champion Hillary Lunke.

Todd has published over 100 instructional articles for national magazines such as Golf Magazine and Golf Digest, as well as published two books, "Lights out Putting" and "Saving Par."

Todd developed and patented the Tri-Fit method of fitting putters, which lead to the development of his company, Coutour Golf. Visit for information and to see one of Todd's putting clinics.

Check Out Our Graduates

GAA Alum Chad Pfeifer Wins Third Consecutive Warrior Open For Wounded Veterans

Wins Event Overseen By President George W. Bush By Nine Strokes

Chad Pfeifer

On Saturday, Sept. 28, Ret. Cpl. Chad Pfeifer, an alumnus of GAA, won the Warrior Open, organized by the George W. Bush Institute and overseen by President George W. Bush, by nine strokes. Pfeifer topped a field of 23 retired servicemen wounded in combat. The victory was Pfeifer's third straight, coming in the event's third year. He shot rounds of 71-75 at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas, for a four-over par total of 146 for the event.

Last year, with former President George W. Bush as a witness, Pfeifer made a hole-in-one on Las Colinas' fourth hole en route to a whopping 15-stroke victory. The GAA Phoenix graduate, who also won the inaugural event in 2011, finished with a two-round total of 3-under-par 145 in 2012.

The field also included current GAA student SSG Andrew Montgomery, who finished in 19th place. Pfeifer graduated from the Phoenix Campus while Montgomery is currently enrolled at the campus in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

A PGA professional, Pfeifer works at Golf Club of Estrella in Goodyear, Ariz., and plays in mini-tour events.

While serving in Iraq in 2007, Pfeifer lost his left leg when a bomb exploded under the vehicle he was driving home from a patrol.

He took up golf as part of his recovery and enrolled in GAA. He shot a career-best 65 while winning the 2011 National Amputee Championship.

"Chad's hard work and accomplishments have been an inspiration to our students and faculty," said GAA president Jim Hart. "We are honored to have two of our students selected for this elite event recognizing veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country."

Grads Share Insights on Their Golf Careers

Recently, we caught up with a couple of grads to get feedback on their golf careers. Paul Lepler, GAA Phoenix alumnus is the GM at The Courses at London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Ryan Gray is the PGA Head Golf Professional at Honeybrook Golf Club in HoneyBrook, Penn.

From Paul Lepler

Paul Lepler

How did you achieve your current position?
I started working Outside Service for one of our sister courses in Phoenix (Kokopelli Golf Course) in March 2011. After 6 months I moved into the Pro Shop and started working on tournament prep. I took over as Tournament Coordinator in May 2012. I got hired as the Asst GM at The Courses in Dec 2012. The GM that hired me took a new position at one of our other courses and I was promoted to GM in April 2013.

What were the biggest influences on your career choice of golf?
I started playing the game when I was 7 years old and loved it my whole life. I never had any desire to play it competitively, but always loved the atmosphere around the golf course. In 2009, I went through some corporate downsizing in the insurance industry that I was working in at the time and needed to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I started researching job opportunities in the golf industry and found the Golf Academy. I had family living in Phoenix, so attending that location was a natural fit. I always knew I wanted to work at a "green grass" facility.

How did Golf Academy of America help you to achieve your goals?
The Golf Academy gave me the knowledge and understanding of the industry from the inside-out. Prior to attending the academy, I had only ever been a consumer of the game and never an employee. The academy gave me the confidence I needed to feel like I could do anything I wanted within the industry.

What advice would you give those wanting to get into the golf business?
Check your ego at the door!! My first job after graduation was washing carts and scrubbing clubs at the local daily fee golf course. Two years later, I was running a 36-hole semi-private facility with 250 members and about 75,000 rounds played a year. I started at the academy with more career experience and education than most people probably do, but you have to be willing to start at the bottom and work your way to the top in this business.

From Ryan Gray

Ryan Gray
Left to right: First Assistant Golf Professional Ben Ingles, Intern Tim Beegle, Assistant Golf Professional Chandlir Pinkham (also GAA graduate), PGA Head Golf Professional Ryan Gray

How did you achieve your current position?
I was hired at Honeybrook Golf Club in 2010 as the Head Golf Professional. Prior to this position I was the First Assistant Golf Professional at French Creek Golf Club for 3 ½ years. My first professional job was at Blue Ridge Country Club in Harrisburg, PA where I learned from Master PGA Professional Peter Micklewright. I began the journey to my PGA Membership in 2006 and earned Membership to The PGA of America in May of 2010.

What were the biggest influences on your career choice of golf?
My parents were my biggest influence in the game of golf. They are my biggest fans and always helped me in my golfing career from when I was a junior player to my professional ranks. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a member at a facility where I would play, practice and have fun from sun up to sun down. This allowed me to be around the golf operation all day long, which helped me gain my passion for the game. Growing up through the game of golf I was able to connect with many golf professionals and create relationships that opened up many opportunities in the golf business.

How did Golf Academy of America help you to achieve your goals?
The Golf Academy of America helped me achieve my goals by educating me on self-discipline, professionalism, & golf facility operations. Not only did I learn the importance of running a smooth golf tournament, but I learned the importance of running a smooth golf operation: the importance of being professional through communication and handling difficult situations while maintaining the professional demeanor. Self-discipline was taught through making priorities, having deadlines to complete tasks which carries over into the day to day operation. You must prioritize and create deadlines for yourself to complete your tasks. The Golf Academy helped mold me into the Golf Professional I am today. The Golf Academy of America was one of the best experiences of my life.

What advice would you give those wanting to get into the golf business?
My advice to anyone wanting to get into the golf business is to go talk and ask questions to numerous Golf Professionals. Once you choose your career path I think the three biggest things to help you grow as a golf professional are communication, continuing education, and networking. Each day you have to make yourself a better person. In the golf business you always have to remember there is not a job that is bigger than yourself. When you jump into a facility you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to have the facility run smoothly.

Are you currently a PGA member or seeking membership?
Elected to PGA Membership May 2010

Students Learn Outside the Ropes

Corey Ross Article

Corey Ross is a GAA alumnus and freelance writer. Corey recently wrote this article about GAA for the Southland Golf Magazine, October issue. It is reprinted in part here with permission. Click here for the full article or check out the interactive magazine version here.

While serving as a health care provider in the Navy, Chris Proctor was deployed to such military hot spots as Somalia and Iraq, where he witnessed some of the worst war has to offer.

Yet, for a time, one of the scariest places for Proctor was a tee box.

When he enrolled at the Golf Academy of America in Carlsbad in 2012, Proctor was a 28 handicap and insecure about his game. Sensing that anxiety one day, an instructor put him on the path to success by helping him overcome his fear, telling Proctor: "This is golf. After all you've been through, why would golf scare you?"

"It kind of put it in perspective for me," Proctor recalled.

Nearly a year and a half later, a confident Proctor graduated with a 4.5 playing index and a job as a teaching assistant at Menifee Lakes Country Club.

"We did a junior camp at Camp Pendleton on Saturdays," Proctor said of his fourth semester assignment. "That's when it really clicked that I was actually able to teach and pass the game along."

Proctor was one of 37 summer graduates this year from the GAA. The school then welcomed 70 incoming students in August for the fall semester, which is annually the peak for its fall, winter and summer enrollment periods.

On average, 80 percent of GAA grads will get work before or upon graduation, said Career Services director William "Buzz" Gill.

"Our students leave here educated and motivated," he said. "They are motivated to start anywhere they need to and work their way up the ladder. They've been given a good education about everything in the golf industry and are ready to take it in any area they want to go into."

Playing on the PGA Tour isn't one of those areas, however, and is a common misconception about both schools. For about the same cost ($30,000-plus), the schools offer similar educational experiences but there are differences, including schedule structure, golf facilities utilized and available teaching technology.

Here's a closer look:

Established as the San Diego Golf Academy in 1974, the GAA is the oldest vocational college of its kind and encompasses five campuses: San Diego, Orlando, Dallas, Phoenix-Scottsdale and Myrtle Beach.

Upon entering the GAA building just off Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad, visitors will notice a room with a sizeable practice green, six hitting bays and two swing simulators. Besides the classrooms and course, this is where the real education takes places.

Six teaching professionals work in the swing lab with the latest in video and digital equipment. After students are shown their swings they can use the facility to practice and hone their games.

"In the classroom, and in everything we do, the company spares no expense to provide whatever's cutting edge, including technology," said GAA San Diego campus director Rich Iorio.

Weeks for GAA students begin with golf tournaments on Mondays held mainly at Southland country clubs. Students start out playing in the events, which include a variety of formats, and progress to running them as part of their tournament planning and organization class.

During the week, students attend classes that begin in the basics of the game and industry, as well as business, and become more focused toward career objectives in the third and fourth semesters. Allocation of electives tailors the education toward the desired sector of the golf industry, such as teaching or food and beverage.

Being in equipment capital Carlsbad and in a county with more than 100 courses provides the school with resources and marketing leverage.

"It's a real advantage for us," Iorio said, "and we've had a lot of local companies hire our students."

While a golf school sounds like a lot of play, Iorio cautions students that it's a lot of work, too, especially for those serious about a career in the industry.

"Golf requires discipline to be good at it, and so does a golf career," he said.