USGA WOMEN'S STATE TEAM
Former Boatwright Interns Credit Stints for Career, Love of Game September 12, 2015 | Cape Girardeau, Mo. By Scott Lipsky, USGA

Kelsey Chugg decided to forego pro golf to serve as a Boatwright Intern at the Utah Golf Association, where she now works full-time. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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Emily Bouchard competed for Maine in her third consecutive USGA Women’s State Team Championship this week, at Dalhousie Golf Club. Bouchard, 26, a three-time Maine Women’s Amateur champion and former competitor for Daniel Webster College, carries herself as someone who has always been enamored with golf, who can’t get enough of the competition. For a period of time, however, that wasn’t the case, and it took seeing the game from a different angle for her to appreciate what she was missing inside the ropes.

“After high school, the first two years of my internship, I didn’t play any golf, I fell out of love with the game,” said Bouchard, referring to her time as a P.J. Boatwright Jr. Intern with the Maine State Golf Association, which involved wearing many hats, including working with junior golfers.  “Having these kids show up every day and seeing how much they love the game of golf brought me back into it. I don’t know if I’d be out here otherwise.”

Bouchard is one of several Women’s State Team competitors that served as a Boatwright Intern to jump-start their career in the golf industry, along with Utah’s Kelsey Chugg, Indiana’s Julia Potter and Texas’ Rachel Smith. Founded by the USGA in 1991, the Boatwright Internship program provides budding golf administration professionals the opportunity to work at a state and regional golf association (SRGA) for a fixed period of time – sometimes as short as three months, sometimes a year or longer. Responsibilities can run the gamut from being responsible for course setup during a championship, to coordinating junior golf programs, to marketing and ticket sales. Countless Boatwright Interns ultimately find their niche in various areas of the golf industry.

Julia Potter interned at the Missouri Golf Association while in college, and decided to pursue golf administration as a career. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Smith, who interned with the Women’s Texas Golf Association, now works with the PGA Tour’s Colonial National Invitational, in Fort Worth, Texas, where her responsibilities include ticketing, sales and sponsorships. The Winthrop University graduate credits her experience as a Boatwright Intern, where she was involved with multiple facets of tournament administration, with opening the door to a career in golf.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Women's Texas Golf Association," Smith said. "When I interviewed with Colonial Country Club, they immediately noticed and appreciated my [Boatwright] internship."

Chugg and Potter both opted to stay in the SRGA world – Chugg with the Utah Golf Association, where she completed her internship, and Potter at the Indiana Golf Office.

“For me, it totally changed my career. I was going into communications, and I was just looking for an internship that allowed me to play tournament golf. After my internship, I was just like, I’m changing my major, this is what I want to do,” said Potter, 27, who served a three-month internship for the Missouri Golf Association while she was a student at the University of Missouri and is now the director of marketing for the IGO. “It’s a great program. The state golf associations needs that help, they need that intern, and at the same time, they really hit all those marks of what is required by the USGA.”

Chugg’s route was a little different. Initially, her goal was to turn professional after completing her playing career at Weber State University. It was a call from UGA Executive Director Bill Walker that would delay, and ultimately change, those plans. With the opportunity to serve as a Boatwright Intern for 12 months, she gave it a shot, and was offered the chance the stay on full-time at the end of her internship.

“I said this would be perfect for me and I’m still not sure that playing is what I want to do, it’s a tough lifestyle,” said Chugg, 24, a two-time Utah Women’s Amateur champion and now the UGA’s director of membership. “I was very fortunate that that all fell into place the way that it did.”

There was also the unexpected benefit in that the experience as a Boatwright Intern can ultimately help competitors with their own games, and they look at the competitions in which they are playing in a completely different light.

"I learned so much assisting with course setup, and that knowledge has transferred to my golf game as well," said Smith, who has reached match play in the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur in each of the last two years. "My strategy and on-course management have changed so much."

“The mentality that you have to have when setting pin placements and setting locations has definitely helped me become a better player,” Potter, the 2013 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, added. “It keeps you in the game of golf. You have this connection and this experience from the other side where you appreciate it more, so when you go to those tournaments, you really understand the hard work that goes into it.”

Scott Lipsky is the manager of websites and digital platforms for the USGA. Email him at slipsky@usga.org.

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