My P.J. Boatwright Adventure
As a returning P.J. Boatwright Intern for the 2017 summer, the GAM presented me with the incredible opportunity to attend the P.J. Boatwright Intern Orientation in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Being selected to represent the state of Michigan at this event meant a great deal to me considering the relationships and experiences I was able to create after working with the GAM the previous summer. Going beyond the professional formality of this opportunity and looking at it from personal level, I was excited to attend because I had never traveled by myself, let alone for a work-related event. As I was walking into Detroit-Metro Airport Sunday morning, May 21st, I was engulfed with the feeling of being a business professional on my way to an important meeting. Super cheesy I know. Nonetheless, it was very cool for me to be flying out of state to attend a conference, and not just any conference, a conference about golf put on by one of largest golf entities in the world: The USGA.
Once on site at the Dolce Hotel in Basking Ridge, NJ, I went through the normal routine of getting checked in and then going up to my room and getting settled in. Being that I had my own room with a king size bed all to myself, the only legitimate and seemingly reasonable thing to was blast some music and jump around on the bed like a little kid. I’ll admit it was a blast for a whole 30 seconds until I found myself slightly winded and then immediately exhausted from a long morning of traveling. Six p.m. finally rolled around and it was time for the orientation dinner in the hotels ball room. All 70 interns gathered into the dining area where we had the opportunity to mingle and network with one another. The dinner consisted of a three-course meal along with the evening’s entertainment of short clips and commercials the USGA had created, followed by brief interjections made by several USGA staff members. All in all the Orientation dinner was a good way to get everyone together and mingling even though a good majority of everyone there was ready to crash from their long day of airport hopping.
On Monday morning (May 22nd) at 8 a.m. all 70 interns filed into the large auditorium to listen to multiple presentations given by members of the USGA staff form their respected departments. The presentations consisted of a variety of different things like tournament set up, social media influence, the demographics of golf, and new ways the USGA is promoting and growing the game i.e. youth programs, special events, etc. A surprisingly quick four hours later we were given a break for lunch in the Vita restaurant inside the hotel (pretty good). After lunch we moved back into the auditorium where we listened to several other presentations and then had the opportunity to work in teams through a problem solving activity pertaining to a ruling situation. The problem solving activity turned out to be more constructive than I had previously anticipated; what seemed like a straight forward problem an answer turned into a 15 minute debate on “what if” scenarios. Nonetheless we came to a conclusion and presented our thoughts in front of all the other interns and USGA staff members, who all seemed to agree with us as well. All in all the first day of presentations was very informative and gave each of us a fairly in-depth analysis of what each department goes through in their day-to-day operations.
After spending the previous day primarily in the auditorium everyone was excited to head out the next day to the USGA headquarters. The USGA museum was the first building we explored and it was truly fantastic. The museum was previously a mansion that was built back in the 1920’s and had since been converted into the center piece of the USGA. It consisted of rooms dedicated to influential golfers that have helped build the game; Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, and many others. After spending and hour or so walking around the museum we moved down to the USGA’s test facility. There we got meet and talk to the staff members who “work” in the test center, and I say “work” because they truly have an awesome job that looks like more fun than work. While in the test center we got to see the how they test golf clubs, golf balls, and the equipment that’s used to perform those tests. After some time in the test center our group moved onto the putting green that the facility keeps behind the museum. It was here we learned how to determine how fast a green is rolling, along with the kinds of tests that are run on the grass to ensure a healthy green. After they stuffed our heads with as much information as they could, they allowed us to get our hands on some old-school putters and participate in some friendly competition.
The several days I spent on this trip are ones that I will always remember. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people both from the USGA and interns from their respective associations across the nation. I’m grateful that the GAM considered me to be an acceptable candidate to attend this event and I’m confident that I did my best to take as much away from the experience as I could. By this I mean that I was mindful in making sure I was making connections, listening to and understanding what other had to say, and trying to present myself in the best way possible to ensure that I left a positive impression on both my peers and those in the industry already. I really enjoyed my time in New Jersey and I thank the USGA and its staff for making the P.J. Boatwright Orientation possible for not only myself, but for the Boatwright interns across the nation!