Students, alumna part of business of golf at PGA Championship

By University Communications
August 15, 2015
John Barry, a UW-Stout senior in golf enterprise management, meets up with UW-Stout Police Chief Lisa Walter, a mobile device enforcement volunteer, at the PGA Championship merchandise tent.

Photo: John Barry meets up with UW-Stout Police Chief Lisa Walter

For most people, the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits Aug. 13-16 is all about the golf —the best players in the world competing to win the last major tournament of the season.

For a group of University of Wisconsin-Stout students and an alumna, the tournament is all about the business of golf. They'll be at the course throughout the tournament but won't get to see much, if any, of the action on the course.

Golf is big business in Wisconsin. The PGA Championship is expected to have an economic impact of $100 million. Overall, golf infuses $2.4 billion a year into Wisconsin's economy while employing more than 38,000 people, according to the PGA.

John Barry, a UW-Stout senior in golf enterprise management, and Molly Loney, a 2008 business administration graduate, are working at the massive PGA merchandise tent at Whistling Straits during the championship.

Barry is representing Nike while Loney is a full-time sales representative for Maui Jim Sunglasses, specializing in golf course accounts.

Three other UW-Stout golf enterprise management students are working at the championship. David Bach of Milwaukee and Kelsey Dawson of Sheboygan Falls are interns this summer at Whistling Straits. James Nelson of Menomonie is an intern and operations assistant with the PGA.

Also, UW-Stout Police Chief Lisa Walter is volunteering as part of the tournament's mobile device enforcement unit.

A summer at the course

Barry, of Appleton, is working three of the four tournament rounds for Nike. He requested one day off to see the tournament with his father, for whom he bought a ticket as a gift.

"It's a fun opportunity just to experience a major championship," Barry said as the tournament was getting underway. "The crowds in the merchandise tent are large;I can't imagine what they will be like this weekend."

About 200,000 spectators are expected to attend the championship.

He also has been interning this summer at Erin Hills, which will host Wisconsin's next major golf event, the 2017 U.S. Open.

At Erin Hills, working in customer service and course maintenance, he has seen the direct impact that golf is having on the state's economy.

"Wisconsin has become a destination for golf. It's something I'm proud of. People from all over the world are coming to Erin Hills," he said.

Barry is one of eight summer collegiate interns at Erin Hills.

Golf is her business

Loney, a River Falls native who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., will be in the merchandise tent through Sunday for Maui Jim Sunglasses.

Her sales territory is Arizona and Las Vegas, but business is slower there during the summers so she often is part of Maui Jim's staff at golf's majors, including the Master's, the U.S. Open and this year at the British Open, which was held at St. Andrew's in Scotland.

"It's not glamorous. The days are long and there's a lot of standing, but the majors are really fun to be around. Everybody is so excited about the events," Loney said, noting that it's especially exciting for her to work at a major championship in her home state.

Loney played for the Blue Devils women's golf team, as did her younger sister, Morgan. Their older sibling, Maggie, played golf at UW-Eau Claire.

Molly initially was a golf pro at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale but wanted to get into retail and landed the Maui Jim job as an account executive in the golf and tennis division. She met the Maui Jim sales director through her work at Desert Mountain.

"I was in the right place at the right time," said Molly, whose studies at UW-Stout included an emphasis in golf enterprise management along with her business administration degree.

GEM program

Students in the golf enterprise management program are part of the School of Hospitality Leadership. They take courses in all aspects of golf course management. The Bachelor of Science program is endorsed by the National Golf Course Owners Association as well as the Golf Course Owners of Wisconsin.

For more information on the GEM program, which also is offered online, go towww.uwstout.edu/programs/bsgem.