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Student Newsletter - July 2014

Jul 28, 2014


A Typical Day at GAA

If you ever wondered what it would be like to enroll at one of the five GAA campuses, here is your chance to hear what it's like firsthand. Listen to this GAA student has to say about his typical day and compare it to your own.

You may also enjoy hearing how people come to make the decision that GAA is the right choice for getting started in a career in golf. Student Robert Schmelter gives his reasons in this video interview.


Former Military Grad Explains How GAA Benefitted Him and His Career

Jose Alicea

Jose Alicea is a graduate of GAA Phoenix and currently works as Assistant Golf Professional at Leisure World Golf Clubs in Mesa, Ariz.

Jose Alicea has been with Leisure World's golf department since September, working diligently as one of the talented, stable golf professional helping to promote the love of the game within the community.

Jose was initially hired as a seasonal employee at Heron Lakes but his hard work, loyalty, and ability to teach the game to residents earned him a full-time position as well as Employee of the Quarter for all of Leisure World this past spring.

Jose was born in Chicago, Ill., and is a proud husband and father to two children. Jose served his country as a veteran of the United States Marine Corps Infantry and the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. He finished with the rank of E-6 Sergeant, was an Infantry Squad Leader and Rifle Expert. During his service, Jose was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and a NEO Ribbon for an evacuation operation in Kenya, Africa.

Eventually, Jose realized his true calling was with the golf industry. He enrolled in GAA, where for four semesters he topped the Dean's List and earned the Academy's President's Award and Professional Award, He finished as an Honor Graduate with certifications in Club Fitting and Repair, Teaching, Tournament Administration, and Golf Course Management/Operations.

"Things at Leisure World are going fantastic!" Jose says. "I couldn't ask for a better mentor to help me prepare for the success that awaits. Travis Fish, Shane Romesberg and Mark Wade, our community manager, are always sharing nuggets of information and experience and allowing me to see it all. Changing careers with a family can be very difficult but taking the first step and committing to it will have its rewards."

He is currently working on a junior academy camp for summer teens with high GPAs for very low cost (next to none). He has given 94 lessons to date ($30 for half hour) and conducts half-hour clinics on putting and chipping twice a week at $10 a player.

Jose attributes one of his greatest lessons as having come from Director of Career Services Fred Barr.

"Honestly, there where some words of wisdom that you gave to us with heart and sincerity that might not of clicked five or ten years ago, but have stuck with me to this date since being in your class: that's getting up every day with the sense of that golf course being my very own, and caring with passion about all the people who help make it all happen."


GAA Phoenix Grad Shares Update & Gratitude via Facebook

Dana Wayne Males

Recently, Dana Wayne Males connected via Facebook with Director of Golf Instruction at GAA Phoenix Jay Friedman. Read below for his good news and the value he received from GAA. Care to share your news? Take to any of our social media outlets to let us know where you are and how you're doing.

I wanted to drop you a line and let you know how things are going. But first and foremost thank you for everything you did for me at GAA.

I'm still at The Courses at Watters Creek here in Plano, Texas. Our facility has helped so much with my growth as a professional. I am now the lead instructor of our Junior Development Program that we started Feb. 1.

We started with 23 kids and have grown it to almost 50 in a few months. I have also been asked to run the north Texas Junior PGA clinics this summer as a lead instructor.

Our facility is set up so well to grow the game that the Golf Channel was out last week filming for a special about growing the game. So I might be on the Golf Channel in the next few weeks or so.

Everything about teaching that you have taught me has helped out tremendously. My lesson book is almost full; working 40 hours in the golf shop a week and running the junior program has me extremely busy.

Again, I want to thank you for everything you taught me and helped me out with.


GAA Student With a Big Heart Makes a Big Difference

GAA Student With a Big Heart Makes a Big Difference

Third-semester student Niall Hackett will graduate in December and embark on a great new career in the golf industry. And while he whole-heartedly values the lessons the Academy is teaching, he has also managed to acquire some lessons that weren't part of the curriculum – and has made an important difference to the experience of a particular Junior golfer.

In January, Niall met with Eric Kulinna, the PGA professional and Director of Player Development at Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler, and shortly after began working as a First Tee coach. He wanted to get some experience with teaching and learn more about the industry and felt First Tee would be a great program to partner with in order to accomplish both.

At the First Tee, instructors teach kids how to play golf but the curriculum also teaches character education through its "Nine Core Values:" honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

It is through this approach that participants learn to transfer the values of golf to everyday life. The Life Skills Experience has six levels starting with Target followed by Player, Par, Birdie, Eagle and Ace. Provided participants meet certain criteria pertaining to golf knowledge, skills education, and volunteerism, they advance through the different levels.

Paige McDougal is one of the kids in the Birdie level. Niall describes her as a keen golfer and good kid.

"The set of clubs she was using were in poor shape so Eric approached me about making her a new set," Niall says. "So I ordered the components and put the set together after class. Paige was very excited when she received her new set of clubs but more importantly they have really helped her game."

Niall had the skills to do this after taking the Golf Club Club Assembly and Repair class with Mr Balliet at GAA. He began working on fitting, gripping, making new sets and repairing clubs for kids at First Tee as a hobby.

"I was fortunate to have parents who helped me get lessons and clubs when I started playing golf as a kid," says Niall, "so it makes me happy to help kids like Paige learn the game and embrace the life lessons we teach at the First Tee program."

As for GAA, Niall absolutely loves the curriculum and feels like the Academy does a great job preparing and teaching students so they are equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to work in various fields in the industry.

He finds everyone at the Academy to be very approachable and only too happy to help students with any questions they may have whether it pertains to classes, guidance, golf lessons or to simply chat.


Canadian Student Plays AZ State Qualifier

Corry Webster

First-semester student Corry Webster played the 36-hold stroke play AZ State Amateur Qualifier at Falcon Dunes on July 10 and 11.

The event qualifier was the top 11 spots after 36 holes of play and the cut ended up being at 146. Corry shot 139 with the following play-by-play:

Round 1: shot 1 eagle, 3 birdies, two bogies to card a 68, 3 under par. Tied for first going into round two.

Round 2: 1 eagle, 3 birdies, 2 bogies, 1 triple bogey to card a 71, even par. He was two over par through 6 holes to start the day. After a birdie and an eagle, followed by another 2 more birdies on the back 9, he managed to bring it back to 3 under par for a total of 6 under for the tournament- which put him in a tie for first with 5 holes to play. After a triple bogey on the 14th hole (par 4), Corry ended up paring out from there to card a 71, even par for the day. Three under for the tournament.

Corry finished in the top 10 (tied for 3rd) and qualified to play in the Arizona State Amateur.

The Arizona State Amateur is being held at Deseret Highlands Golf Club on Aug. 11 - 16. The first two days is stroke play and then the low 64 play head-to-head match play to decide the winner.


Spring Classic Tournament Introduces Junior Players to Golf Careers

Spring Classic Tournament Introduces Junior Players to Golf Careers

This year's Golf Academy of America Spring Classic, a junior tournament the Academy sponsors in partnership with the Southern California PGA, took place on March 31 at the Balboa Golf Course in Encino. James Albert, the SCPGA Tour Coordinator, and Golf Academy of America graduate Chad Rongavilla were among the organizers.

When junior players started to arrive at 6 a.m., Enrollment Specialist Jonathan Standiford was on hand to assist in tournament operations and answer any questions the players or their parents might have about an education at Golf Academy of America. "I had a good opportunity to speak with the players and parents throughout the tournament," he said." Many were interested in learning more about our program."

Standiford stated that most of the junior players were between 14 and 17-years-old. While some of them had started considering college and beyond, most weren't sure what they were going to do after high school graduation. Many left considering an education at Golf Academy of America as a solid option.

"There was a full field of boys and girls playing their hearts out," Standiford said. "It's a great opportunity for GAA to support junior golf and growth of the game. It's fun to be a part of these events."