By Blake Schnitker
There are many of us, myself included, that would do just about anything to have the skills to become a PGA certified golf professional. For us golf lovers, a day at the course is like a miniature vacation, teetering back and forth on the love-hate relationship that accompanies the game of golf. In theory – the word theory being the key – anyone can acquire a professional golfing license. The only problem is … you have to be a really good golfer, and you have to be a really good golfer consistently.
It just so happens that Jacksonville native John Jacobs, a 2012 graduate of Jacksonville High School, is in fact really good at golf, consistently. Hoping to pursue golf as a profession rather than just a hobby, Jacobs decided to continue his academic career at Mississippi State University (MSU), one of the few schools in the country that offer a PGA Golf Management program.
“There are only about 20 schools in the country that offer this program and Mississippi State was one that stood out to me compared to the other schools,” Jacobs said of his college choice, “I’m currently majoring in Business Marketing with a concentration in PGA Golf Management.”
While not a member of MSU’s NCAA golf team, Jacobs, along with his friend and fellow Jacksonville native Taylor Pettit, is a part of the school’s PGA Golf Management program, which, according to the school’s website, is designed not only to attract young, hard-working golfers, but also to train them, qualify them for membership in the PGA of America, and place them in highly desirable jobs in the golf industry.
“I’d say the biggest reason for my game’s improvement is the result of playing in Pro Golf Management (PGM) tournaments,” said Jacobs, who’s posted lower and lower scores since arriving in Starkville, “that, plus our Assistant Director, Adam Scott, who’s really worked hard creating a program to help everyone’s golf game. He comes up with drills and works with us individually to help us improve on our game.”
As a student in the PGM program, Jacobs is required to complete a minimum of 16 months of co-op work experience through the MSU Cooperative Education Program, which entails working under the tutelage of Class A PGA Professionals throughout the country. Jacobs must also be continuously enrolled at MSU as a full-time student or enrolled in the MSU Cooperative Education Program according to their co-op schedule. As Jacobs completes the program, he will earn a prestigious degree and reach the threshold of PGA Class A membership, meaning that he would qualify for golf pro jobs at hundreds of courses throughout the country.
“After graduation, my plans are to work at private club as an assistant professional,” Jacobs said, “I hope to be able to work somewhere like Chicago or New York (Long Island). My first two internships were in Chicago and Long Island and I really enjoyed my time at both places. Working at places like these however, the golf operation is not open year round due to weather. Taking that into consideration, I would most likely go somewhere warmer, like Florida or Arizona, to work in the winter.”
So while we all might not have the skills to be a certified golf pro, it’s good to know that those who do, people such as John Jacobs, are taking full advantage of it. And whether it be Chicago, New York, Florida or Arizona, one day you might find yourself visiting a course that reads: “Course Pro – John Jacobs.”