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Golf class teaches student business skills, how to schmooze

Story by Emma Wilson

Playing a few rounds on the golf course with your boss could lead to a promotion — if you know how to play that is. Fortunately, Drake University offers a class at that can teach you how.

“Golf for Business and Life” was started in the spring of 2008 after Drake graduate Zach Johnson played for the Ryder Cup team. Each member of the team was given money to start a “Golf for Business and Life” class at the university of their choice, Johnson chose Drake.

Longview Golf pro Lori Gaffney-Burmeister worked with the Drake Associate Athletic Director Mike Cigelman to turn the money from Johnson into a class that could teach Drake students about the power of using golf as business skill in their professional lives.

“I knew from the beginning that this class had something I could really gain from it, golf is really a life-long skill,” second-year law student Amanda Broussard said.

Broussard decided to take the course after taking a couple of golf lessons over the summer. Broussard said that the course offers something different from regular golf lessons because its accompanied with a class that teaches you how you can use golf as a business tool.

The class is made up of two parts, 10 lessons with Gaffney-Burmeister and approximately six lessons with Des Moines professionals.

“People from the community teach the students about everything from planning a fundraising tournament for your company to using it as a networking skill to get an in with a potential employer,” Intramural Director Lisa Murphy, the class’ programming coordinator, said.

“I’ve heard that especially in sales, employers won’t hire you if you can’t play a decent round of golf with them,” sophomore business student and member of the class Christopher Wahl, said. He decided to take the class after Randall Blum, dean of the business school, mentioned it at orientation in Wahl’s first year at Drake.

The class is open to all students at Drake including graduate students, but preference is given to those who are at least sophomores.

Each class has about 20 students but it is broken up into groups of about seven for the golf lessons so that each student gets more individual attention.

“There are golfers of all different levels in the class,” Gaffney-Burmeister said. “So I try to make sure I spend time with each of the students individually so that they can really take something from the class.”

“The class appeals to any student that has an interest in golf,” Gaffney-Burmeister said. “There are a wide variety of majors in the class from business to journalism to pharmacy. No previous golf experience is needed to take the class — golf clubs aren’t even required for those who don’t already have them because the course has clubs available for people to borrow.”

“It’s really a once in a life time opportunity to take a class like this,” Broussard said, “And when you get an opportunity like that you should definitely take advantage of it.” The Ryder Cup has stopped offering money for members of the team to use for the Golf for Business and Life class so in a few years the money that funds the class will run out and the course will have to stop being offered.

Gaffney-Burmeister insists that college students should continue to learn how to play after the class ceases to be funded because golf will continue to offer them benefits throughout their lives.

“I have a 94-year-old man taking lessons from me right now,“ Gaffney-Burmeister said. “If you learn to play golf in college you’ll have a useful hobby for the rest of your life.”


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