The ever-expanding role of the golf professional, particularly as it relates to continuing education, will be the focus of a weeklong seminar beginning tomorrow at the Marriott-Inner Harbor.
In the past, the Professional Golfers' Association of America has held similar programs at its headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., but now is shifting them to cluster sites across the country.
For one who might think a golf professional's job consists of pushing sleeves of balls across the counter, making golf carts available or giving lessons, the scope of the seminars provides an eye-opening experience.
Nearly 100 professionals have registered for an advanced business school, an eight-hour day for all five days, that will cover such subjects as rules, tournament administration, finances, marketing and public relations as they relate to golf operations.
Another 150 pros have registered for one-day seminars on a specific facet of the profession.
Although voluntary, these nationwide seminars play an important part in a professional's career, because the PGA requires every member to complete 36 hours of continuing education during a three-year span.
Some of these hours may be earned at the national level, others at the section level. The Middle Atlantic PGA -- one of 41 sections that make up the national body -- conducts its own education program, for instance, with more than 15 seminars a year.
In addition to the educational requirements, the PGA also asks its members to earn six service and/or participation points. These points are awarded for such things as community speaking and assorted PGA activities, including holding office and serving on committees.
The system has evolved over the years, and professionals may earn as many points beyond the requirement as they choose. The top 20 percent are named to a PGA President's Society, and last year the Middle Atlantic section had 88 members achieve this recognition.
One of the instructors involved this week is Baltimore native Larry Startzel, chairman of the National PGA rules committee, who will speak on rules and tournament operations.
Faculty members include head professionals Coleman Plecker of Manor Country Club in Rockville and Del Snyder of the Golden Horseshoe in Williamsburg, Va. Pete Van Pelt, head pro at Mount Vernon CC in Alexandria, Va., is coordinating a program devoted to golf ranges -- those at individual clubs as well as commercial ones.
This has become important since PGA members who are simply teaching professionals now may gain eligible employment (get membership credit for the position, according to PGA regulations) while not working for a PGA member.
In the past, teaching professionals must have been working under direct supervision of a head golf professional who was a PGA member. Legislation was passed at the last annual meeting to change the rule, which did not recognize PGA members serving a non-member-operated facility.
The suite life: Sky boxes, seemingly a requirement for sports playpens these days, are finding a whole new outlet -- the professional golf tours.
One club to choose this option for corporate hospitality is Oakmont Country Club in suburban Pittsburgh, site of this year's U.S. Women's Open, July 23-26. The club has announced it will build 24 sky boxes above stands that will be around the 18th green.
"They are by far what the people wanted," said businessman Frank Fuhrer, who is serving as director of marketing for the Open. "You couldn't give a tent away."
Earlier, the PGA of America announced that all 23 of its corporate sky boxes have been sold out for the 53rd PGA Seniors Championship, April 16-19 at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
It marked the earliest all sky boxes had been sold for a PGA Seniors Championship, and set a record for number sold.
Corporate tents are sold at most major golf tournaments for $50,000 to $100,000, but often are located away from the action. Fuhrer said he had sold only one $50,000 corporate tent.
Chip shots: Kevin Pryseski, head golf course superintendent at Sparrows Point CC, has been named to the same position at Cattail Creek CC, the new course under construction on Route 97 in western Howard County. . . . Baltimorean Fran Rhoads, formerly an assistant at Holly Hills CC, is the head professional at Clustered Spires Golf Club, the new municipal course in Frederick. . . . Former Montgomery County resident Bob Dolan, previously of Hidden Springs GC in Somerset, Pa., is the new head pro at Lakewood CC.