There may be no better way to learn about the sport of golf than by visiting the place where it originated. For a group of Methodist University students, this dream became a reality.
The University’s PGA Golf Management program – one of only 18 of its kind in the entire nation – featured a study abroad class called “History of Golf and International Business” in the spring semester. It allowed students to learn about architecture, design, economics, and culture for several months in the classroom before taking a one-week trip to the “Home of Golf” – Scotland.
On April 29, seven students and two faculty members – Bob Bruns, PGA Golf Management Director, and Brock White, PGA Golf Management Internship Director – embarked on their journey to Europe.
“This trip wasn’t just about golf. We wanted to teach our students the history of golf and what happened in those places during that time,” White said. “The goal was for students to gain a better understanding of the golf industry from an international perspective.”
Once in Scotland, the group enjoyed a week filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as a visit to the Edinburgh Castle and a trip of the British Golf Museum. However, a majority of the time was spent at some of the most historic golf courses: Mortonhall Golf Club, Kingsbarns Golf Links, Dunbar Golf Club, Gullane Golf Club, and the world-renowned St. Andrews.
Each club provided the MU students with a tour and some even offered dinners, giving them a chance to develop a rapport with some of the top golf professionals in the area.
“While we couldn’t play at St. Andrews, we did get a chance to walk around holes 17 and 18. With the 150th anniversary of the Open Championship taking place at the course in July, the visit was truly an incredible experience,” White said.
Once the students returned to North Carolina on May 6, they were asked to write an essay detailing their main takeaways from the study abroad. While some pointed to the rich history of Scotland, others mentioned how narrow the roads were and how strange it was to see cars drive on the left side of the road.
For Alexander McGonagle, who plans on graduating this December in Business Administration with a concentration in Professional Golf Management, he noticed the contrasting cultures.
“Scotland and the United States are extremely different,” said McGonagle. “Scotland’s culture is very historic. You can see it through their architecture, money, and even how people dress.”
White mentioned the plan is to host another trip to Scotland in the spring of 2023, Ireland in the spring of 2024, and then alternate between the locations after that.
“Study abroad is important to our program for two reasons. First, it’s significant for our students to experience a culture different from their own. It not only helps them understand how to handle being uncomfortable, but it may help them lead their own international trips down the line,” White said. “The second side is helping them build connections in the golf industry. Currently, we have students working in Ireland, England, Thailand, and India. If we can help them build relationships with professionals around the world, it will only help them moving forward.”
Not only is Methodist University one of only 18 universities in the nation with a PGA Golf Management program, MU has a 6,011 yard golf course on its campus, and the Monarchs have won 39 NCAA golf national championships (including the women’s title in 2021 and men’s title last month). You can learn more for yourself by visiting the program’s webpage.