Andy Smith, Derek Holmes and Paul Speltz had successful seasons in tournaments held by the Minnesota Section of the Professional Golfers' Association of America. They are assistant pros working on becoming PGA-certified Class A pros, or head golf professionals.
About 10 percent of UW-Stout GEM graduates pursue a playing-teaching career path in the game of golf. Most pursue the business side of the game, which is the focus of the program, and some eventually blend both.
In early October, Smith, Holmes and Speltz — former Blue Devils golf teammates — took the top three places in the Minnesota PGA season-long match play championship for assistant pros. Smith defeated Holmes in the title match, match, 1-up. Speltz lost in a semifinal match to Smith, 2 and 1, but then won the third-place match.
In September, Holmes took third place in the 36-hole stroke play championship for assistant pros. Smith was fourth and Speltz tied for sixth place. They each won more than $1,000.
In the final Player of the Year standings for Minnesota assistant pros, covering a variety of tournaments, Smith was runner-up, Holmes fourth and Speltz seventh.
Smith, a 2012 graduate from Grand Marais, Minn., works at Superior National in Lutsen, Minn. Holmes, a 2010 graduate and native of Anoka, Minn., is a pro at River Oaks in Cottage Grove, Minn. Speltz, a 2009 graduate and native of Winona, Minn., is at Midland Hills in St. Paul.
While at UW-Stout, Smith, Holmes and Speltz were standout players for the men's golf team. They were on the same teams in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Howie Samb, an instructor in the GEM program and a Class A PGA pro, is proud of their career progress. "They're excellent players and have done a really great job making names for themselves in the Minnesota PGA," Samb said.
For more information about the GEM program, go to the website.