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NMSU hosts the PGA's first summer camp for potential golf management students

New Mexico State University's PGA Golf Management program has received another vote of confidence from the PGA.

Close up of golf ball with NMSU PGA Golf Management logo
NMSU's PGA Golf Management program will be hosting the PGA of America's first and only summer camp for high school students interested in studying golf management. Called the PGA Golf Management University Program Summer Experience, the camp takes place July 15-18. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Next week, the program will be hosting the PGA of America's first and only summer camp for high school students interested in studying golf management. Called the PGA Golf Management University Program Summer Experience, 13 soon-to-be high school seniors will spend four days on the NMSU campus learning about golf management and how to improve their game.

The camp begins Sunday, July 15 and ends Wednesday, July 18, with a tournament for the young golfers taking place Tuesday, July 17.

"I think the PGA selected NMSU to host this first camp because of the years we have been running the golf management program," said Pat Gavin, director of the PGA Golf Management program at NMSU's College of Business. "We do everything really well, we have all the facilities needed and we have had the support of the university over the years. They know there is a commitment and support for the program here at the university."

NMSU's relationship with the PGA has been a long one. In 1987, the university's golf management program became only the third in the nation to be accredited by the PGA.

The 16- to 17-year-old students attending the Summer Experience are coming to Las Cruces from as far away as Pennsylvania, Florida and Oregon. To qualify for the camp, the 10 boys and three girls had to show an interest in learning about golf management as a career and have a minimum handicap of 19.

While the number of campers may seem small, Gavin said the PGA only asked NMSU in March to host the camp.

"We put it on our website and the PGA of America put it on all their websites throughout the country and they sent out flyers to a lot of junior programs," Gavin said. "A lot of people called and said it was a great idea but they hadn't raised money or they hadn't thought of it for this summer, but would look at it for next summer. I think there is a huge potential for us to have 20 to 30 kids next summer."

In the meantime, the teens taking part in this inaugural camp will get a taste of what the college experience would be like if they opted to join a PGA Golf Management program.

"The exciting opportunities available through the PGA Golf Management University Program Summer Experience reflect the PGA of America's mission to make our game and industry more inclusive and more diverse," said PGA President Allen Wronowski. "This program provides these young adults with an array of activities that can help them better appreciate how special golf is at so many levels, including the potential for it to be a most fulfilling career."

Just as freshman PGA Golf Management students at NMSU have their own special section in one of the dorms, the campers will spend their two nights in Las Cruces at Pinon Hall ? under strict 24-hour adult supervision.

The teens arrive at NMSU on July 15, when they will receive an orientation. On the morning of July 16, the teens will spend an hour at the driving range, where they will receive tips from current NMSU PGA Golf Management students, as well as from legendary former long-time coach of the NMSU golf team, Herb Wimberly. Then it's off to class.

"All the classes are geared toward golf management or the PGA," Gavin said. "The PGA is actually flying somebody in to give a 90-minute presentation on what life as a PGA golf professional is like. It's not all about playing golf every day. These teens will learn about the business side of being a PGA professional."

The day wraps up with more golf. The following day is much the same, except this time Gavin and his team will have the opportunity to promote NMSU's PGA Golf Management program. The day ends with a tournament among the teens at the NMSU golf course. On July 18, the teen golfers will have a debriefing session before they leave.

The camp costs $500 plus travel expenses. The fee covers the students' two-night stay at Pinon Hall, all meals, transportation to-and-from El Paso International Airport and golf fees.

Gavin has big hopes for expanding the Summer Experience and using it as a way to recruit more students for NMSU's PGA Golf Management program.

"We probably get 50 teens and their families who visit New Mexico State every year to scout the PGA program," Gavin said. "Now, for $500 parents can send their children out here so they can learn more about the program. We're really excited about it and we hope that it's going to lead to bigger and better things in the future."