Colbert Hills Golf Course
K-State's golf course management program a growing success
By Beth Bohn
Grounds crews lay sod for the golf course. Many workers are students in the golf course management program at K-State.
The number of students taking a swing at Kansas State University's golf course management program continues to grow. From 1998 to 2004 alone, enrollments tripled -- from 40 to 140.
"We're very pleased," said Jack Fry, professor of horticulture, forestry and recreation resources. "The attention the program is getting from students is fantastic. I also receive several inquiries each month from other colleges and universities considering establishing similar programs."
K-State's golf course management program is the first of its kind to combine the traditional turf management aspect of golf course management with the business, hospitality and food service operations at 18-hole golf facilities.
"Our program was developed with help from experienced golf course superintendents, who indicated that the skills students can develop in business, communications and personnel management will be as important as the education received in the plant and soil sciences," Fry said.
"The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America is an adviser to the program and will evaluate its effectiveness in educating future golf course superintendents and facility professionals," he said.
Students also are eligible for internships at Colbert Hills, the 18-hole tournament course opened May 2000 in Northwest Manhattan. The golf course is named for Jim Colbert, a K-State alum and member of the SENIOR PGA TOUR. Colbert spearheaded the private fund drive to build the course.
The program also works with K-State's career and employment services to help students find internships and jobs.
Fry said the program and Colbert Hills are proving to be a strong recruitment tool for the university.
"About 10 percent of the students enrolled in 2004 were from out of state, with most deciding to attend K-State specifically because of the golf course management program," he said.
That's true for Elise Carpentier. A member of K-State's women's golf team, Carpentier said the golf course management program was instrumental in her decision to attend K-State.
"A lot of universities and colleges plan to add a golf course management program but not many have one right now, like K-State," she said. "I want to work in the business of golf, perhaps as a pro or running a golf course."
Edie Murdoch also is a member of the women's golf team. She switched her major from business administration to the golf course management program when it became available. Murdoch said understanding the specifics of golf course management will be beneficial in reaching her goal of becoming a head pro at a premier golf facility or resort.
"There are few women who are golf course superintendents, in my opinion," Fry said. "I believe there are a wealth of opportunities for women in the career field.
The golf course management program also is a hit with students from Kansas.
"It's the reason why I came to K-State," said Paul Levine. "I want to be involved in the business end of golf, to be a general manager or to be involved in the operational or marketing aspects of a golf course," he said.