GCU to serve up, tee up new business programs
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
The new tennis and golf course management programs at Grand Canyon University will give students opportunities to learn all aspects of their respective industries — not just the role of teaching professional.
Both 120-credit curriculums will be incorporated into the University’s new hospitality program, also being rolled out in the fall by the Colangelo College of Business. (For more on that program, click here.)
The tennis management program, the first of its kind among NCAA Division I schools, will align with the pillars of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and will cover the skills needed to manage tennis operations, including facility management, merchandising, event planning and introduction to food and beverage management.
The golf course program, which will include access to newly renovated Maryvale Golf Course when it reopens in October, will be the same idea: There will be a heavy emphasis on learning how to be a general manager of a public, private or resort-style course, a role that GCU women’s golf coach Don Powers called “the strength of the industry.”
Students who love to play tennis or golf certainly will have a lot of opportunities to do so. They will be taught player development and the skills needed to become an effective instructor, and students will be required to get at least 100 hours of experience in the industry before they graduate.
“If you love business, love tennis or golf and want to be in that industry, this is the way to do it,” said Dr. Randy Gibb, dean of CCOB. “Your goal could be to become the general manager of a beautiful resort that has golf and tennis, and you’re a golfer and/or tennis player through and through. You can go on the business side or on the hospitality side, or you can work for a whole host of equipment companies.”
GCU tennis coach Greg Prudhomme said he first thought of starting a management program in the sport when he was at Glendale Community College in the early 1990s. Just as he was starting to generate support for the idea there he joined GCU. He was so excited when he first heard of the plan to implement the program at the University, “I just started rambling.”
“Business is a popular degree among tennis players, and there are a lot of them going into the tennis business,” he said. “There’s a demand in the tennis industry for more qualified professionals, and the reason is that there’s not a lot of formal training available. As a result, most of the people getting hired are former players.”
Plans are in the works for a GCU tennis facility, but that isn’t the only place where students will be able to get real-world experience.
“We’re trying to attract students from all around the country,” Prudhomme said. “There are opportunities in the industry. Every few months I get a call from a colleague trying to find someone to fill a job at a resort somewhere.”
Similar opportunities are available in the golf industry, Powers said. Students will be taught all aspects of the operation, including agronomy, course maintenance, tournament management and membership development, and will have a major role in managing the Maryvale course. They also will have access to internships at courses across the country.
Another positive is the effect the new programs will have on recruiting. Many students who play on the tennis or golf teams likely will be attracted to a place where they can make that industry their profession even if they aren’t talented enough to play professionally. Most programs sponsored by professional organizations focus on helping students become instructors.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or [email protected]