University of Wisconsin-Stout

It soon will be possible for golf-course managers all over the country and the world to earn a college degree in their field without leaving home--or the clubhouse.

University of Wisconsin-Stout launched its golf enterprise management program in January 2006. The program has proven to be popular. The program had 130 students enrolled this past academic year, with 50 more freshmen coming in September.

Now UW-Stout is taking the next step and will offer the entire course online in the fall. There are more than 16,000 golf courses in the United States, and they each need general and business managers to operate them.

The online option will allow working professionals and individuals in other geographic areas to enroll in the program without the necessity of traveling to the university campus at set times. Course objectives and expectations are the same in an online course as an on-campus course.

UW-Stout’s new golf enterprise management program is unique among university programs in that it educates people to have the business acumen to lead the golf industry. Other programs typically graduate golf professionals with an emphasis in teaching or playing golf. UW-Stout graduates business professionals with an emphasis in golf course marketing, customer development and retention, golf course design, turf management, and turf and the environment.

“UW-Stout is trying to structure its courses and how we deliver them to meet the needs of the workforce in western Wisconsin, the state and the nation,” Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen said. “Putting our golf enterprise management program online is a great example of how we try to respond to the needs of business and industry and our students.”

“In addition to careers in golf course management, graduates of the GEM program will be prepared for entry-level management positions within corporations that manage multiple courses, golf retail businesses, tourism businesses and many other golf-related businesses,” said Thomas E. Franklin, program director for the golf enterprise management program, said. “Students in the program are passionate about their career opportunities in such an exciting industry.”

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As the business of the game of golf has become more complex, and profit-motivated future owners or managers are needed, executives in the industry approached UW-Stout to help develop a comprehensive new golf management program.

Keystone grants have been received from The TORO Giving Program; Bill Gehrand, a committed UW-Stout alumnus; and the Kohler Co. Further proof of industry need and acceptance has been shown by the National Golf Course Owners Association, which unanimously endorsed the new GEM program.

These industry representatives challenged the university to develop conventional, as well as gender and minority opportunities, in golf management and related fields. The program stresses best business practices and business acumen rather than player aptitude.

The university does not require a player aptitude test for program participants but believes that people who enter the GEM program should have a deep interest in the game and/or the business of the game of golf.