Written by: Greg Johnson
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – When the summer golf season arrives each year the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) welcomes interns that are participating in the P.J. Boatwright Internship Program of the United States Golf Association (USGA).
This year a trio of Boatwright Interns have joined the GAM team and Luke Helwing of Brighton, Katelyn Turner of Zeeland and Ellie Berry of Dearborn have hit the ground running, or more accurately are helping the GAM staff organize and run tournaments as well as provide the myriad of other services to its over 450 member clubs and nearly 80,000 member golfers in the state.
The P.J. Boatwright Internship Program was established by the USGA in 1991 and is designed to provide experience to individuals interested in a career in golf administration while also assisting state and regional golf associations in the promotion of amateur golf.
Each internship is shaped to meet the needs of the association it serves, and each intern has different roles and duties this summer for the GAM. Each member of the trio reports golf is emerging as a career possibility.
Helwing is primarily working with the tournament staff on the operations side as well as learning the business and organization aspects. The graduate of Grand Valley State University last December completed an internship last summer for the Michigan Section PGA.
“I applied for another position at the GAM this winter and in the interview process they told me they thought I would be a good candidate for the Boatwright program,” Helwing said. “ I did some research and learned more about the program and then talked again with the GAM about it.”
Helwing, who will be 24 in June, played football at Brighton High School but his golf has been of the non-competitive variety with friends and family. His parents are members of Oak Pointe Country Club near Brighton. While going to Grand Valley he also worked on the maintenance staff briefly at Blythefield Country Club in nearby Grand Rapids.
“When I got to college working toward a career in the sports industry interested me, and that I could pursue it through golf, a game I loved, made it a great fit for me,” he said. “My advisor at Grand Valley talked to me about internships in sports and soon after that the PGA opportunity came up. That was great, and the PGA experience really led to this.”
A career in golf is part of his plans for the future and he expects the Boatright experience with the GAM to give him a better idea where he fits in the industry.
“It’s certainly a career and resume builder,” he said. “The GAM is very organized and the tournaments I’ve been to so far have exposed me to what goes on with the back end as well. I’m learning a lot and understanding more of all that goes into the tournament process.”
Berry, who will be 21 in July and a senior at Oakland University in the fall, has been a GAM member since high school and started golfing at age 10, first competing in Drive, Chip and Putt and then playing on her high school team at Dearborn Divine Child.
She is majoring in communications and minoring in digital media production at Oakland University and the Boatright Internship is helping her explore what she hopes to do for a career. She found out about the program when looking at the GAM website (GAM.org).
“Because I love golf so much this opportunity has been great,” she said. “I like the people at the GAM and what the association does for the state of Michigan. I knew about the GAM, but I didn’t realize how much went into what they did or all of what they do.”
Berry, who is primarily working with the GAM’s communication team, hopes to learn the work that goes on behind the scenes at the GAM.
“I’ve wanted to go into something with the media since my freshman year of college,” she said. “Combining media and communications with golf hits on all my interest areas. I’m excited to learn more.”
Turner is another tournament intern for the GAM and her father Steve, a golfer and GAM member through the Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck, pointed her toward the Boatwright internship.
“He became aware of it and then made me aware of it,” said Turner, who is 20 and will be a junior at the University of Michigan in the fall. “I knew I wanted an internship in the summer. I’m a sports management major at Michigan and I was interested in golf as a possible sport to work in.”
Turner was a swimmer in high school, and a summer job after high school as a lifeguard at Macatawa Legends Golf Club in Holland led her to trying golf. Her father then helped her learn more about the game. This past year she interned with the University of Michigan Athletics Department setting up sports events on campus.
“I’m three weeks into this internship and really enjoying golf and working with tournaments,” she said. “I never golfed competitively but the staff here is helping me learn the rules, having me take officials quizzes on line. I’ve really enjoyed it so far. It’s been a cool experience. I’m getting to do a little bit of everything and learning a lot. I enjoy the operations side and I can see working in golf one day.”