50 MKE Fellows go ‘Beyond the Green’ at the Ryder Cup for the first time

by | Sep 26, 2021 | Golf Shoes

Open doors. To build bridges. Invitation to a new and underrepresented community to discover the golf industry. Then ask the question and get to the all-important answer – “Yes!”

These were the key takeaways from the opening day of Ryder Cup Week at the first PGA WORKS Beyond the Green event, which was linked to one of the most outstanding events in the sport.

A group of around 50 MKE Fellows attended the 43rd Ryder Cup in Whistling Straits on Monday with a special invitation to attend Beyond the Green. They had the opportunity to see firsthand what a career in golf and an affinity for the game can really mean.

The MKE Fellows initiative was launched in 2012 to encourage talented Milwaukee students to continue and complete their college education. The main goal of the organization is to build a strong pipeline of young African American college graduates who excel in their careers and become dedicated leaders in the greater Milwaukee area.

The opportunity offered is real and available to people from all backgrounds.

“We would like to introduce you to an industry and calling centered around the game of golf,” said PGA President Jim Richerson, who is also the senior vice president of operations for Troon in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Golf is a very big industry in a very small world. Right now, golf is an 84 billion dollar industry with 2 million employees. You may be thinking, ‘I’m not sure if golf is my thing.’ But it can be because there are so many options. “

Presented by PGA REACH, the PGA of America’s nonprofit foundation, PGA WORKS Beyond the Green is designed to provide high school and college students with an insight into the golf industry. Students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds interested in careers in the golf industry have direct contact with industry professionals and also got a behind-the-scenes look at the massive activities of the Ryder Cup. Although Beyond the Green has been an integral part of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte since 2017, it will be held in conjunction with the Ryder Cup for the first time.

“This game is transformative,” said co-host Doug Smith. “On this day we will connect you to all corners of the golf industry. … Golf is making a concerted effort to reach people of color. “

“We have an intergenerational opportunity to improve the game,” said Seth Waugh, CEO of PGA of America. “This is the beginning of the journey and not the end. What we do is try to create opportunities for you to work and play in it. We have a saying at the PGA of America: “If we can make the game look like the rest of the world, then maybe we can make the rest of the world look a little more like the game.” We have an $ 84 billion industry and we won’t stop until it starts to look more like this space. “

Monday’s Beyond the Green event was hosted by NBC’s Will Lowery and Smith, who are jointly hosting a podcast similar to “Beyond the Fairway”.

“Beyond the Green” has since been sponsored by Comcast, NBA World Champion Milwaukee Bucks, Kohler and Bank of America. Among the many other prominent speakers and panelists were:

  • NBC sports presenter Mike Tirico

  • NBCUniversal Media VP of TV & Streaming, Strategy and Business Development Crystal Fisher

  • Golf Channel Analyst Paige Mackenzie

  • Comedian Chris Tucker

  • Professional golfer Willie Mack III

  • Former NFL player and Olympian Willie Gault

  • Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin

  • Milwaukee Bucks reporter and storytelling director Zora Stephenson

  • Bank of America Chief Administrative Officer Andrea Smith

  • PGA REACH National Trustee Nina Kohler

  • PGA WORKS program director Rachel Melendez-Mabee

  • PGA career advisor Kendall Murphy

  • Several other sports and business experts

The MKE Fellows and participants were first introduced to the game and industry through the media.

“There are so many opportunities in golf,” said Tirico as he delivered a virtual message to the Fellows. “I’ve been fortunate enough to build a career in the sports media and golf is a big part of that. The golf coverage has taken me to over 30 states and five different continents. … We always talk about the golf ball being round and the world round. That’s why golf is a global game, and we’ve been able to live that out over the years. I hope today inspires you to pursue one of the many opportunities in golf. “

The amazing power of the “yes”

The fellows were encouraged to take the initiative to shape their future.

“When you’re in a game changing situation, whether you’re female or a colored person, it’s challenging,” said Mackenzie of Golf Channel. “You can get around this by simply asking. Just ask and see what they have to say. “

“It takes a ‘yes’ to change your life,” added Stephenson of the Bucks. “A person. An organization that believes in you and they will.”

PGA REACH announced last week that it has partnered with MKE Fellows, giving them unique access to the Ryder Cup as well as potential employment through the PGA WORKS Fellowship in Wisconsin.

“Today is all about access to career opportunities and the greatest gateway we can offer you is PGA of America,” said Melendez-Mabee, program director for PGA WORKS. “We’re here to help you thrive, not just survive.”

As part of the partnership, a number of activations were planned in the run-up to the Ryder Cup. This included a virtual lunch and study, held in July, which allowed MKE Fellows to learn about career opportunities in the golf industry from the leadership of the PGA of America, as well as a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Ryder Cup’s extensive on-site activities in the Pfeifenstrasse.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to help our young people in this area,” explains MKE Fellows Executive Director John W. Daniels III. “This wonderful opportunity with PGA REACH and PGA WORKS can open new doors for our fellows who may never have considered a career in golf. This relationship is already delivering tangible results and is benefiting young African American men in the Milwaukee area. “

“I’m not a great player, but I fell in love with the game,” Tucker said in a virtual message. “It’s a great game. You can play it until you are 100 years old. … And you can use it both for business and pleasure. “

Students participated in Q&A with panelists, team building exercises, interactive ties, and fun contests for signed Milwaukee Bucks jerseys, Jordan branded golf shoes, tickets, and more. In the meantime, the panelists and speakers discussed the importance of expanding the reach of the game.

“We want the game to look more like the space we have today – more blacks and browns to be part of the game,” said PGA career advisor and PGA member Murphy.

Richerson summed up the opportunity the Fellows experienced during the biggest week for the PGA of America.

“Having this type of event to kick off the week is really something special. Our club consists of 28,000 men and women who are involved in growing the game. That is why we are here today as a partner. We would like to introduce you to the game and business of golf. We want to redefine what the game looks like, what the industry looks like, and we need your help to do that. We support all possible initiatives to bring you into play. “

The fellows were impressed.

“It really opened me up to different opportunities that I have,” Kaleb Tatum, senior Marquette University and MKE Fellow, told Milwaukee TV partner CBS 58.

“It’s just crazy to have this big event here and be so celebrity – it’s such a beautiful thing,” added MKE Fellow Zion Bullock in an interview with FOX 6 Milwaukee.