Jake’s Boatwright Internship ends in Novemeber of 2022. Read Jake’s story about his transition from playing collegiate football to working in golf and his time spent as the USGA P.J. Boatwright Intern for the Louisiana Golf Association this year.
From the Gridiron to the Golf Course
My USGA PJ Boatwright internship with the Louisiana Golf Association started in February of 2022. Previously, I was in the insurance business and a recent graduate from Louisiana Tech University’s MBA program. I also played football for Louisiana Tech from 2016-2020. During that time, I constantly found myself trying to find ways to make time to be on the golf course. Since I was a young kid, I always had a passion for football and really every other sport, except golf. As I grew older, I found myself gravitating towards the game, and I wanted to find a way to get into the operations, administration, and the business side of golf. In September of 2021, I was ironically playing in a golf tournament with a good friend of mine who would eventually get me in contact with the Louisiana Golf Association’s Executive Director, Logan Ray, about the USGA PJ Boatwright Internship opportunity. I knew this was a perfect opportunity to try and possibly pursue a career in the game I truly enjoyed being around. Who wouldn’t want the golf course to essentially be their office? Well, I quickly learned that not every day on the golf course is perfect.
My first golf tournament as the LGA’s Junior Tour Operations Intern was the Sam Burns Junior Four-Ball Championship at Squire Creek. It was February, 33 degrees, and raining, with the wind also blowing. It was quite possibly the coldest I’ve ever felt. I still do not know how the players were able to play a full 18 holes that day. It really made me second guess if I really wanted to be in the golf industry. But all jokes aside, it was a tremendous experience getting to talk to the players and parents, learn the ins and outs of running a golf tournament, and working at such a great club like Squire Creek. It was also a plus getting to meet now Presidents Cup participant for the U.S. team, Sam Burns. Another unique benefit in working for the USGA/LGA, was being able to get passes and attend the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana in New Orleans, a PGA Tour event. This was my first PGA Tour event to ever attend. It was pretty cool getting to watch and be up close to players like 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, Colin Morikawa, Cameron Smith, Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, and plenty of others. I also got to pay attention and examine how the PGA Tour runs and operates their events to take bits and pieces of what they do and translate what we can to the LGA and the Louisiana Junior Golf Tour championships.
The LGA and LJGT tournament season runs from about mid-April thru October, with the summer months being the busiest by far. There are tournaments just about every week during the summer, sometimes 2 or 3 different events in one week. The LGA staff tried to inform me of how busy we would be and the number of hours we would put in during the busy season.
They also made me aware of the many different jobs/responsibilities I would take on during this time. The jobs before getting to the tournament include: promoting the championship by editing and creating graphics for social media pages/website and also reaching out to local news stations to cover the event, helping players get registered and keeping track of the overall number of participants that have signed up and paid for the event, getting all of the supplies needed for the tournament for travel packed up into our vehicles and the LGA trailer. Once we arrive on property, depending on the tournament, I will help mark the golf course, choose hole locations for the multiple rounds, switch out the flags on all the holes, set the tees for tournament play, and print out all of the paperwork needed for the next morning. On tournament days, we get to the golf course at about 6:30 AM to start setting everything up for the day. This includes putting up all LGA/LJGT signage, setting up starting tents and tables, filling up the ice chests with water for the players, and also getting videos and pictures to post to social media before the round starts. I am also usually a “starter” on one of the starting holes, which means I will go over the rules of the championship with the participants, formally announce each player, and send them off at their according tee time and make sure that each group is teeing off on time.
After a couple of hours, once I am finished teeing the groups off, I will break down the starting tents and tables and then head back out onto the golf course to help with pace of play, rulings, and also try to get pictures and videos for social media. Once play is finished and the tournament is completed, I will give a trophy presentation, interview players, get pictures for social media and help with the press release for the website. Once I finish with that, I will help pack everything up in the trailer to take back to the LGA headquarters and then the next weekend we will travel somewhere across the state to the next host site and do it again. During the summer, we will do that almost every weekend. I believe during the whole month of July, I stayed at my home in Lafayette only four or five nights out of the whole month.
In listing all of that, I am sure I missed a couple of smaller jobs that go on throughout the tournament, but I wanted to give a rundown of the hard work that goes into putting on a top-notch championship. Players coming up to you at the end of the weekend thanking you for putting on a great tournament and having nothing but good things to say, makes it worth it. Another cool piece to me about putting on these tournaments, as it relates to the Louisiana Junior Golf Tour, is knowing that you are giving these young kids not only an opportunity to play the sport they love, but a chance to get noticed by college coaches and possibly have the opportunity to chase their dreams of playing college golf. At least that is what makes it worth for me, because I’m able to relate to those kids that are just wanting to get one opportunity to be noticed by a coach and make a college roster, having been in that situation. It may be a different sport, but it all means the same! I was honored to be able to represent Team Louisiana in the 2022 Junior River Cup as the team captain. (featured image above) The Junior River Cup is a Ryder Cup style event that pits the twenty best Louisiana Junior golfers against the twenty best Mississippi Junior golfers. Coming from the team aspect in football, it was awesome to be able to team up with the best junior golfers in the state to try and go win “The Cup” together. We unfotunately were not able to keep the cup in Louisiana, but it was the most fun I had while being in this position this year. Getting to bring some of the intensity and enthusiasm over from football and translate it to golf to encourgae the kids in their matches was exciting, and I believe the players enjoyed it too.
I also just enjoy getting to build relationships with not only the people who play in our events, but the GM’s, Golf Professionals, staff members at each club, and anyone else that I come across. The relationship I made with the players and parents of the Junior River Cup team are some that I know will last a lifetime. Those are the relationships that matter and the ones that will help grow the Louisiana Golf Association (LGA) and Louisiana Junior Golf Tour (LJGT). Having genuine relationships with the clubs in Louisiana and the people who play in the events is the recipe for success, and that is something I have learned from my experiences while being a USGA Boatwright Intern for the Louisiana Golf Association.
Over the last 7-8 months, I have truly enjoyed getting to know how the golf business works, how to operate a high-quality golf tournament, and how to improve a state golf association. Hopefully I can build on my experiences and use the knowledge I’ve learned while being in this position to help me for the future. If someone has a passion for golf and is interested in venturing into the golf business, I highly recommend the USGA PJ Boatwright internship with a state golf association.