The Ryder Cup is less than three months away now, and the Professional Golf Association is looking for local workers to staff it.
Diversity remains one of golf’s biggest challenges. In response, the PGA has developed a hiring program to open doors in the golf industry, not just on the golf course. A game built on tradition, is working towards change.
“We are committed to developing a golf workforce and supply chain that better mirrors America today,” said Jason Mengel, Ryder Cup Director at PGA of America.
The PGA created “JobMatch” to find and connect local workers of all backgrounds to both full and part-time jobs during and after big events, like the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in September. The jobs will be in fields like transportation, logistics, construction, hospitality, concessions and retail.
The PGA says it’s working with local organizations to reach a more diverse talent base, like the American Indian Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee and the Latino Academy of Workforce Development in Madison.
TMJ4 called those two organizations, but they were unavailable to comment Wednesday. However, we did catch up with some golfers at Lincoln Park in Milwaukee. Don Young, an avid golfer from Janesville, has mixed feelings about the effort.
“It’s a good thing for the most part, except for the fact that when you go out of your way to try and find someone from a different race or ethnic group, it’s kind of like you’re stereotyping, and that’s not always the best thing,” Young said.
While there are no public statistics on the ethnic makeup of PGA workers at national golf tournaments, it’s no secret golf itself is a predominantly white sport.
“It’s not rare for me to be the only person of color on the golf course,” Young said.
A check of 2018 statistics from the PGA of America shows about 18 percent of all golfers in the U.S. are “non-Caucasian.”
Similarly, about 25 percent of all junior golfers – aged six to seventeen - in the U.S. are “non-Caucasian.” Twenty years ago, that number was only six percent.
Mengel acknowledges it will take time and effort to diversify - both on and off the golf course - but, he says the numbers are improving.
“Golf is one of the sports that has really flourished over the past year and a half,” Mengel said. “It’s a game that allows for physical and social distancing. The overall participation rates are through the roof right now.”
Besides the benefit of hiring local workers, the PGA says the Ryder Cup will have an economic impact of about $135 million on southeast Wisconsin. The tournament is also broadcast internationally, reaching 500 million homes around the world, showing Wisconsin as a prime golf destination.