One of the biggest decisions in a young person’s life is deciding what career path they want to take. For Claire Kirby, an earnest 17-year-old from Lubbock, the choice is equally difficult. Luckily for her, though, she found the TGA Foundation’s TGA Works internship program. The purpose of the program is to help connect high school students with TGA Member Clubs for paid summer internships to give them first-hand experience in the golf industry.
Kirby spent this past summer as an intern at venerable Lubbock Country Club, where she got a little taste of everything a potential career in golf has to offer. Going into her senior year of high school, this internship couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I’ve been applying for colleges and trying to decide what I want to do in the future,” Kirby said.
She said this experience helped open her eyes to the various opportunities available in the golf industry. While she enjoyed all the facets of her internship, Kirby said her favorite part was being able to see the business and marketing side of golf. She said she had no clue a career in golf was even an option until her internship through TGA Works.
“I had no idea what I wanted to major in, but after this internship it got me thinking about the business side of golf,” Kirby said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to make my passion into a career.”
Kirby wasn’t the only one who benefitted from the experience. Mark Vinson, Head Golf Professional at Lubbock Country Club, said Kirby was the first intern they’ve employed in about 10 years. He said funding from the TGA Works program was great because it allowed them to pay Kirby a little extra for all her hard work, which in turn really helped the golf staff.
Vinson, as well as Director of Merchandising Alli Thrasher, said Kirby contributed in impactful ways throughout the summer. She helped in every aspect of the club’s operations and caught onto everything quickly, according to Vinson. In fact, the TGA Works experience with Kirby left Vinson open to the possibility of bringing in another intern again next year.
“We may have gotten a little spoiled with the first one,” Vinson said. “I think it was a good experience for sure.”
The broad range of duties emboldened Kirby, too. One thing in particular that stood out to her was golf shop merchandising. She loved being able to help keep track of inventory and order merchandise for the golf shop. Learning what sells quickly provided Kirby insights to the various stylistic tastes of the membership.
“The sales part was very interesting because you have to know what to order and when to order it based on what people want,” Kirby said.
Outside of her work in the golf shop, Kirby helped bring new life to Lubbock Country Club Golf Shop’s Instagram page. She worked with Thrasher to develop her own hashtag (#goclaire2018) and built some organic momentum from the membership.
“We wanted to come up with a hashtag for me so the members could follow along and know who I was,” Kirby said. “It was a great way for me to connect with a lot of the members.”
Members Kirby had never met in person would greet her at the club after following her Instagram posts. She credits the social media experiment as an effective tool in building new relationships around the club, as well as enhancing her intern experience.
“Our members were so sweet when it came to introducing themselves and asking her questions,” Thrasher said.
Whether she chooses to pursue a career in the golf industry or not, her internship through the TGA Works program gave her plenty to think about and helped open her eyes to a world of possibilities. As Lubbock Country Club can attest, the golf industry would be lucky to have Claire Kirby.
“I can tell you that I’ve hired people before that do a whole lot less than what she’s capable of doing,” Vinson said. “She could probably do whatever she wants to do.”
For more information on the TGA Foundation and the TGA Works program, click here.