Three University of Wisconsin-Stout students have been going places this spring — New York, Washington, D.C., and California — and they hope the experiences are just the start.
The students, majoring in golf enterprise management, recently took part in National Golf Day in the nation’s capital and the PGA Championship in New York. Up next for one of them, Sawyer Hrycay, is the U.S. Open, another of golf’s four major events, June 13-16 at Pebble Beach in California.
Along with work and official business, there was some star-gazing. Alexa Filipiak met and had her picture taken with Brooks Koepka, the PGA champion and a rising world golf star. Ryan Hoag and Hrycay met and had their picture taken with U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan at National Golf Day in the capital.
“It was something great to be a part of,” Hrycay said.
Even better than the photos and memories, the students hope the national-level learning experiences will help them in their careers.
UW-Stout’s golf enterprise management program is part of the School of Hospitality Leadership.
Hrycay, a junior from Janesville, went from National Golf Day in early May almost directly to Pebble Beach, where he is one of about a dozen interns helping run the 37,000-square-foot merchandise tent at the national championship.
He began work May 10 at the course south of San Francisco and will be there until the end of June. He and other interns from around the U.S. helped set up the merchandise area, are handling inventory, working with vendors and are managing 10 to 15 tent volunteers daily.
If inventory runs low, they have more — 26 semitrailers full.
“I’m excited to be inside the tent and interact with the fans and guests of the tournament. We’ll work anywhere from 90 to 105 hours each week for the next two weeks, but there’s no other place right now I’d rather work,” Hrycay said.
Pebble Beach, on the Monterey Peninsula in Carmel, Calif., is ranked one of the world’s best golf courses.
“I’m excited to grow my managing skills and be a leader for the volunteers to look up to,” he said. “It will be crazy in all fashions, and I’m fired up for it.”
He saw the impact that golf has across the U.S. during National Golf Day in the capital. More than 200 people from the industry, including other students, volunteered for a landscaping and beautification service project April 30 at landmarks on the National Mall. On May 1, they met with lawmakers and advocated for the golf industry. Learn more at We Are Golf.
One bill before Congress, PHIT — Personal Health Investment Today — would allow Americans to set up pretax medical accounts for physical activity expenses, such as golf. “In the golf industry, we hope it would have an impact on the future generation and their parents to grow the game a bit more, something we can all benefit from,” Hrycay said.
Hoag, of Roseville, Minn., graduated May 4, a few days after taking part in National Golf Day.
Along with the service project, Hoag and Hrycay met with legislative leaders from Wisconsin and Minnesota and their staffs. “We shared the benefits of the golf industry and how current legislative matters are affecting industry,” Hoag said. “It was a great experience.”
The annual economic impact of golf in the U.S. is $84.1 billion, along with almost $4 billion in annual charitable impact.
“Having students represent not only Stout but also Minnesota and Wisconsin certainly was beneficial to show that the issues we are advocating for will impact not only the current but also the upcoming generation of golf course owners and managers,” said Hoag, who interned at the 2017 U.S. Open held at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
After commencement, Hoag began work with Wilson Golf Group, which owns and operates nine golf facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado. He is working at Oak Glen in Stillwater, Minn.
His responsibilities include developing the company’s data reporting and analysis system to help determine financial benchmarks. “I am being challenged daily to help develop operational standards to become more efficient,” he said. “I have been given many opportunities to show the skills I learned in the golf program at Stout.”
Filipiak, a senior from Elk River, Minn., interned at the merchandise tent for five weeks at the PGA Championship, which was held May 16-19 at Bethpage State Park outside of New York.
She spent the bulk of her time working in various capacities in the tent, including greeting customers when they entered. She did get a chance to have her picture taken with the historic trophy and the champion, Koepka.
It was her second such internship in less than a year. In June 2018, she had a similar internship at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y.
One of her career goals is to work for the organizations that run the PGA and the U.S. Open, the PGA of America and the United States Golf Association.
She is a member of the Blue Devils’ women’s golf team.
From left, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and UW-Stout students Ryan Hoag and Sawyer Hrycay meet during National Golf Day on May 1 in Washington, D.C.
Sawyer Hrycay is an intern in the merchandise tent at the U.S. Open golf tournament, being held at Pebble Beach in California.
Golf industry representatives gather May 1 on the capitol steps in Washington, D.C., during National Golf Day.
UW-Stout student Alexa Filipiak and other interns meet Brooks Koepka, center, after he won the PGA Championship.