Larry Long, Golf Links Detroit adviser; Paul Avasharian, Golf Links Detroit founder
and president; Bob Kendall, board member; Ferris State President Bill Pink, De'Andrea
Matthews, board secretary; Dave Kendall, board member; Shaun Thomas great nephew of
Ben Davis; and Joe Hatch, Ferris State’s PGA Golf Management director.
DETROIT – Ferris State University is partnering with Golf Links Detroit, a non-profit organization, to develop a program introducing Detroit students to sports careers, providing opportunities for entrepreneurship and introducing the golf industry to a more diverse audience.
The Ben Davis Scholars program, connecting students with Ferris State’s PGA Golf Management program, will be a first-of-its-kind effort to recruit and prepare Detroit public high school students for careers in PGA professional golf management and golf course turf management.
“We are excited about this partnership with Golf Links Detroit, especially given the focus of increasing the pool of diverse professionals in this beloved sport,” Ferris State President Bill Pink said. “This partnership with Golf Links Detroit will not only introduce Detroit students to a sport, but also to a wide variety of rewarding careers within the golf industry.”
Joe Hatch, Ferris State’s PGA Golf Management director, said the partnership is intended to spur career and economic growth for Detroit youth, boost minority leadership at metro Detroit’s golf facilities, and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in America’s golf industry.
Hatch said there are nearly 900 public and private golf courses in Michigan, creating about 57,000 jobs and generating $1.4 billion in wages.
However, the industry lags in participation from women and people of color. Of the more than 18,000 members of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, less than 2 percent are women, and 0.2 percent identified as Black.
Ferris State’s PGA Professional Golf Management program was the first in the nation
when it started nearly 50 years ago and prepares students for a variety of careers
in the golf profession through specialized marketing courses and hands-on, golf-related
workshops, through the endorsement of the PGA, and an internship allowing students
to obtain advanced credit toward PGA membership.
Ferris State’s PGA Professional Golf Management program was the first in the nation when it started nearly 50 years ago and prepares students for a variety of careers in the golf profession through specialized marketing courses and hands-on, golf-related workshops, through the endorsement of the PGA, and an internship allowing students to obtain advanced credit toward PGA membership.
Golf Links Detroit, established as a 501c3 organization in 2006, is committed to supporting Detroit students by providing advocacy through golf-centered recreation, education, and workforce development programs.
“Detroit students don’t often have access to opportunities and experiences that can provide a pipeline to new, non-traditional careers,” said Paul Avsharian, Golf Links Detroit founder and president. “Introducing Detroit students to golf has been one of our missions. This partnership will allow us to take that to the next level, creating a new pathway to higher education that can transform lives.”
The Golf Links Detroit team has experience teaching in Detroit public schools, recruiting and preparing minority students for college, and designing programs for K-12 students.
Avsharian credits Dave Kendall, owner and operator of the Washtenaw Golf Club, as a driving force in spreading the game and opportunities to Detroit youth. Kendall was one of the first Ferris State PGA Professional Golf Course Management program graduates.
The Ben Davis Scholars program is named after Erellon Ben Davis, a golf instructor who influenced generations of metro Detroit residents as the first African American professional golf instructor at a municipal golf facility, Detroit’s Rackham Golf Course. He was the first Black member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and was inducted into the African American Golfers Hall of Fame in 2012.
Ferris State’s PGA Golf Management Program is part of the Ferris State College of Business. It has graduated more than 2,000 students since launching in 1975, with nearly 1,160 graduates still active PGA members.
“The College of Business prepares students to be leaders and innovators in a variety of industries,” Dean Logan Jones said. “We’re proud to have the first PGM program, but even prouder of the people who have graduated from the program and continue to make a difference in the industry and their communities.”
The program includes preparation in golf shop operation, golf course maintenance, public relations, teaching skills, golf rules, custom club repair and fitting, and organizing and conducting golf events. The curriculum is recommended and endorsed by the PGA.