UW-Stout: ‘Swampers’ help prepare course for PGA Championship
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Menomonie, Wis. – Adam Haese is seeing a completely different side — he calls it “eye-opening” — of the PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at Whistling Straits golf course, north of Sheboygan.
In 2004 he was a spectator when the course along Lake Michigan first hosted the event. This year he’s a college intern, helping the PGA prepare for the last of pro golf’s four major tournaments in 2010.
“It really takes a lot of manual labor to set up for the tournament. I had no clue. It’s ridiculous,” said Haese, 22.
Haese, a native of Mishicot, graduated in May with a degree in golf enterprise management from UW-Stout. He is one of four UW-Stout GEM program majors interning at the PGA.
The PGA affectionately refers to its dozens of college interns as “swampers.” They do anything and everything to help prepare for the event. “It’s tough work but a lot of fun,” Haese said.
Haese and other interns began work July 5 and expect to be at the course two weeks beyond Sunday’s final round. They had been working 40-hour weeks, but “now it’s 12 or 13 hours a day, however long it takes to get things done,” Haese said.
UW-Stout’s interns are part of a group of 10 who have the formal title of operations assistants. They unload furniture and supplies from trucks for various media and corporate hospitality tents, make deliveries around the course and help set up fencing, along with other miscellaneous tasks.
The event will feature about 150 of the world’s best players and be broadcast worldwide. It is expected to draw tens of thousands of spectators.
Along with Haese, other UW-Stout interns are Amanda Dlugopolski, Appleton; Michael Tabbert, Janesville; and Steve Toftum, Amherst. They applied for the positions and were interviewed on campus in the spring by Kevin Wright, PGA director of championship operations.
The internships are paid positions.
“This is a great opportunity for our students as they enter the competitive golf industry,” said Kris Schoonover, GEM program director and a professor in the School of Hospitality Leadership.
“Providing hands-on experience at a major championship operation is critical in understanding the entire process of tournament management,” she added.
After his job at the PGA is finished, Haese hopes to find a full-time job at a golf course as an assistant director of operations. “I’ve been meeting people at the Straits from throughout the golf industry. It has been a big plus. I’ve made some connections,” Haese said.
In recent weeks, Haese saw several pros play practice rounds on the course, including Wisconsin native Steve Stricker and Masters champion Phil Mickelson. “We can’t wait for the tournament to begin,” Haese said.
Last year, three UW-Stout students interned at the PGA at Hazeltine, in Chaska, Minn., Schoonover said.
The GEM program at UW-Stout has about 200 students, who study course and facility management, marketing and course design.
For more information, contact Schoonover at 715-232-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.