NCCGA intern finds benefits of working with group
Sunday, November 24, 2013
National Collegiate Club Golf Association intern Bram Berkowitz, a double major in advertising and entrepreneurship & emerging enterprises at Syracuse University, shares his perspectives on lessons learned working with the group.
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After my first summer internship interview with Kris Hart and Mike Belkin, the Co-Founders of Collegegolfpass, I was still confused about what kind of company I was trying to intern at. After learning about their affordable golf and National Collegiate Club Golf Association tournament programs, I was shocked that nobody had come up with ideas like this before to grow the game of golf for young adults like they were doing. I then knew that I wanted to be a part of their effort and had an amazing summer experience helping add dozens of club golf teams around the country including my own club golf team at Syracuse to the Northeast Region.
After my first week on the job, I knew these guys were onto something big, given the structure and organization they used in every aspect of how they run the company. It was no surprise to me that they had been able to triple the number of NCCGA club golf teams while adding hundreds of courses to the Collegegolfpass network during the last six months, making it all the more thrilling for me to make a real contribution to a thriving company.
My primary role during the summer was to call campus recreation departments and tell them about NCCGA and help them start a club golf team. Throughout this process, Kris and Mike taught me that even a golf-related job required incredible work ethic and business-oriented skills. Mike, a former captain of the Amherst varsity golf team, showed me a lot about the marketing side of the business such as how to utilize blogs to boost SEO and create partnerships to improve brand awareness. Kris – who played for the Division I Bryant Bulldogs – taught me valuable lessons about sales and how to develop personal relationships with potential customers.
I will never forget one of my first calls to an athletic director. It was my second week on the job and I was just learning the “NCCGA pitch.” After stumbling through the NCCGA history and background, the athletic director demanded to know why I was calling someone in his position about club golf. As I sat there looking like Phil Mickelson on the 18th hole during his Winged Foot collapse, Kris just offered reassurance with a laugh. While I started out a little shaky, ultimately throughout my experience I was able to make real progress helping numerous students start their own club golf teams most notably in the Gulf, Texas, Northeast, and Metro NCCGA regions.
As I finished the internship up and headed back to Syracuse for my senior year, Kris and Mike wanted to know if I could lead the Northeast Region as the regional coordinator. I learned that running golf tournaments can be pressure-packed when dealing with the golf courses, making sure all of the team presidents in the Northeast had their rosters submitted, and trying to compete while running a smooth tournament.
The moment I stepped on the first tee, I could feel my heart beating and a slight shake from my knees as though I had been transported back to the times of high school golf. Back then, the game meant everything to me; it might as well have been my part-time job. When I pulled my first drive into the bunker on hole No. 1, however, I was not the least bit deterred. As I happily walked down the fairway, all I could think was welcome back to high school golf and pressure that always makes playing in thirty-degree weather worth it.
I am sure students everywhere have had similar feelings as I in getting a second change to play in competitive golf events after high school through the NCCGA. As the organization continues to evolve and Collegegolfpass keeps adding courses (they already have more than 500), the entire golfing community is going to notice this innovative organization. I have no doubt the NCCGA will surpass the amount of teams that play Division I golf (the organization already has more than 10,000 members) and that the Collegegolfpass will eventually be in the hands of every collegiate player. After all, when you see an organization getting college kids up before noon on a Saturday to play golf, you get the idea they might just be on to something.