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ADVANCING THE GAME
USGA Welcomes 20 Pathways Interns to 2023 U.S. Open June 1, 2023 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By Kimberly Barrett

The program is part of an organizational effort to invest back in U.S. Open host cities and foster future golf leaders. (Jason E. Miczek/USGA)

Demonstrating a commitment to foster a welcoming and inclusive golf industry by providing more work opportunities, the USGA has hired 20 students from underrepresented communities for its 10-day Pathways Internship Program, held during U.S. Open Championship week in Los Angeles. 

Launched in 2022 as the Lee Elder Internship, the career training program returns as part of the USGA’s four-pillar U.S. Open community engagement strategy that aims to utilize USGA resources and expertise to propel a healthier future for the game. Supported by foundational sponsor Deloitte, as well as Cisco, Sentry Insurance, NBC Sports, Peter Millar and host community partners The Los Angeles Country Club and Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC), the program aims to expose students to various career offerings in golf.

“The Pathways program helps to break down barriers to the game and is critical to funneling more individuals with diverse backgrounds and talents into golf,” said USGA CEO Mike Whan. “I know future leaders of our game exist among this year’s class, and I can’t wait to get to Los Angeles to see them in action. The experience will change lives and open new worlds of opportunity – for all of us.”

Following the program’s announcement in December 2022, the internship committee received more than 300 applications. In order to help eliminate barriers to participation, all Pathways interns will have their travel and expenses fully covered, in addition to receiving a stipend for the week. 

Ranging from a rising sophomore to graduate students and representing 20 accredited institutions that include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the interns will travel to Los Angeles for the immersive program that highlights a variety of career paths through job shadowing and networking with industry leaders.

The international cohort includes class presidents, entrepreneurs, public speakers, collegiate athletes, First Tee alumni and Southern California Golf Association scholars as well as individuals with limited golf exposure. Fifty percent of participants are from Southern California, aligning with the USGA’s efforts to invest back in the communities that host its championships.

The USGA, working closely with Deloitte, NBC Sports and LASEC, developed the curriculum that focuses student training sessions by their identified areas of interest, known as “pathways.” Students will visit venues in Los Angeles to learn what it takes to host major sporting events in the country’s second-largest city.

Participants will spend a day with Deloitte practitioners at SoFi Stadium with a focus on growing their professional development skills.  Programming will provide students with opportunities to better understand their own working styles, learn how to embrace their authentic selves in the workplace and see how technology plays an important role in the sports industry.

Through the USGA’s relationship with NBC Sports and the NBCU Academy, participants will visit Universal Studios for a day focused on personal brand development. The broadcasting network’s award-winning development program is focused on propelling college students and early-career professionals into journalism and technology-related fields. 

Students will also converge with participants in the LASEC Professional Development Program (PDP) Summit at LA84 Foundation for a daylong session, providing students with an inside look into the history of major events in Los Angeles, and networking opportunities with local sports executives. 

On-site at The Los Angeles Country Club, students will hear directly from USGA leadership and shadow USGA team members across all championship functions, including broadcasting, communications, corporate hospitality, merchandising, course setup and operations. Based on their major and personal interests, interns will be placed in one of three areas – Business of the Game, Storytellers of the Game, or Architects of the Game – to partake in hands-on learning experiences. 

Select alumni from last year’s program will return as peer leaders to guide students from onboarding through the day-to-day programming. Many of the alumni from the inaugural class currently hold full-time and long-term internship positions with the USGA, Deloitte, PGA Tour and Mass Golf.

This year’s Pathways class joins the nearly 100 interns working on-site at the championship, including those working directly with the merchandising, marketing and championship administration teams. 

The USGA annually funds more than 273 paid internships across the country, including more than 150 interns taking part in this year’s P.J. Boatwright Internship Program through its network of 58 Allied Golf Associations. Each internship provides direct on-the-job training as staff members at the USGA or a state and regional golf association. 

Recent studies show that the game of golf employs 1.6 million people in the U.S., with an economic impact of more than $100 billion. 

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