UW-Stout Launches Golf Enterprise Management Program

Beginning next year, the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisc., will implement a new Bachelor of Science degree program in Golf Enterprise Management.

According to John Wesolek, Dean of the College of Human Development where the major will be housed, “The B.S. in Golf Enterprise Management, referred to as GEM, is planned in response to golf industry encouragement to address their management needs. UW-Stout’s current programs in hospitality and tourism, customer service, and general business administration, and our distance learning capabilities have helped to position the University for this new program.

“Our new degree program is designed to prepare graduates for entry-level management positions, with a primary focus on the management of golf course properties,” continued Wesolek. “The program was developed to address management needs in the golf industry. Students will receive a comprehensive baccalaureate education with courses in business, customer service, food and beverage, and retail management, in addition to golf-specific content in customer development and retention, golf course design, and turf management. The program includes existing and new curriculum from UW-Stout and three new courses in turf management developed in collaboration with UW-River Falls,” said Wesolek.

“While existing golf management programs stress player aptitude, the new GEM degree will place emphasis on developing business management skills related to golf,” said Tom Franklin, who will serve as the GEM program director. “The new program is not about playing the game of golf, but it is about the business of golf. We believe this new degree will entice greater numbers of women and minorities to plan careers in golf course management and golf-related fields,” said Franklin.

The National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to endorse the development of a degree in Golf Enterprise Management at UW-Stout. According to the NGCOA’s Mike Hughes, chief financial officer, “This is the only endorsement of its kind ever conferred by the National Golf Course Owners Association and was only given after much consideration. We all believe that your institution is a perfect match for this program because of its hospitality programs, the excellent customer service offerings, the emphasis on applied learning and the distance learning capability.”

Henry DeLozier, Vice President of Golf for Pulte Homes supports the new GEM program. "As an owner of multiple golf courses, we are most mindful of the need for a new generation of golf course people. This new business opportunity is focused on the learning of solid business practices, and principled leadership. The new program … at UW-Stout builds on the premise of preparing future candidates for entry-level management positions in our industry."

"The golf industry has seen many changes over the past five years, but none will ultimately be as important to long-term success as the transition to golf as a business focused on financial profitability and yield management. With this transition comes a need for professionals with business acumen, and specifically a keen understanding of financials, marketing, economics and sales. At the same time, the tradition of golf needs to be maintained, and a strong focus on player development, agronomy, and customer service is at the forefront,” Margie Traylor, President and Founding Partner for the international marketing firm, Sitewire, said in support of the GEM program.

To date, $250,000 for program development and student scholarships has been received from three generous donors: the Toro Foundation, the Kohler Company and a dedicated Stout alumnus, Bill Gehrand, owner of a property development company. This funding and recent research within Wisconsin and Minnesota suggesting strong interest in hiring GEM graduates indicates that the program should be a success. In fact, prior to formal program approval, over 200 students inquired about the program or already transferred to UW-Stout for the program. With plans to implement men’s and women’s varsity golf teams by fall of 2006, student interest is expected to be even greater.

Formal recruiting of students is just now beginning, with the first freshman classes planned for spring and fall 2006. Interested students should contact Program Director Tom Franklin (715/232-2242 or franklint@uwstout.edu) or contact UW-Stout (http://www.uwstout.edu/) for information on the program and advice on registration at UW-Stout for the B.S. in Golf Enterprise Management (GEM).