Tara McKenna: Utilize Out-of-the-Box Player Development Programs

Tara McKenna, the 2015 South Florida Section Horton Smith Award winner, is the PGA Director of the PGA Golf Management Program at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida.

To benefit my golf management students’ ability to teach and to serve the community of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), the PGA Golf Management Student Association (PGMSA) coordinates a series of student- led faculty/staff clinics each semester. All staff and faculty members at FGCU are invited to sign up any topics of their choice, with free golf instruction provided by PGMSA students. The clinics cover a variety of instructional topics outlined for which I assist the students in creating. PGMSA students, from all levels, provide the instruction, which ranges from basic fundamentals for those new to the game to driving skills and short game finesse. There has been an increasing demand for these clinics from both students and faculty, as the slots of 13-14 students and 20-25 faculty fill-up quickly. We do encourage all attendees, if they enjoyed their time, to provide a small donation to our local First Tee program. The goal of these faculty/staff clinics is to provide PGMSA students with teaching experience, highlight the golf management program to the rest of the university, grow the game of golf and help the local community by raising money for The First Tee of Lee County.

Player development programs like FGCU’s faculty clinics help create greater interest in the game of golf and address the lapsed individual who wants to restart their game. These clinics are coordinated in an educational setting so there is no revenue generated. Nonetheless, this model can easily be utilized by traditional green grass facilities, and these programs allow PGA Professionals to market their skills and offerings. For PGA Professionals in a private club setting that allow non-member clients, this format may provide a marketing avenue in which to spread the word of their instructional services to a new client base that previously would not be aware of their ability to seek lessons at a private club. A PGA Professional that provides a player development instruction program to a local school golf team can generate additional business for themselves and their facility.