Lee Elder Internship
Student wins prestigious golf scholarship
By C. Brandon Chapman – College of Education
Sport Management graduate student Gabrielle Charles had the experience of a lifetime, participating in the 2022 U.S. Open as part of the newly established Lee Elder Internship.
In partnership with the United States Golf Association (USGA) and The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. where the U.S. Open took place, the internship was designed to introduce under-represented youth to the game while also presenting golf’s various career pathways.
Charles is not a stranger to sports. She’s a former D-1 student-athlete who ran track sprints at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey before coming to Washington State University’s College of Education to study Sport Management.
Since she came to WSU, she’s turned heads with her academics and some of her entrepreneurial endeavors she’s been engaged in.
“She is a college scholarship recipient and has a bright professional future ahead of her,” said Simon Licen, associate professor of Sport Management. “I am proud she is a student in our program.”
None of this meant Charles understood all the ins and outs of golf.
“As a sport management student, it was important for me to learn about the various sport industries and the opportunities it has to offer,” she said. “I didn’t want to just limit myself to the well-known popular sports in my career route like football, baseball, and basketball.”
Not only would it give opportunities for Charles to spread her wings a little, but there was another component she said was intriguing.
As the USGA said on its website: “There are more than two million jobs within the $84 billion golf industry, but only a small fraction of these are held by those from underrepresented communities. The mission of this foundational program is to help address this imbalance. It is the latest in a series of proactive programs in golf to encourage people from diverse communities to participate in golf and explore the many career opportunities in the game.”
The internship was named for Elder, who was the first Black golfer to play in The Masters and the first to play on the United States Ryder Cup team.
“It’s important to open new opportunities to minorities because it brings the company culture and opens the doors to new perspectives that a company would have never been introduced to before. Not only that but many minorities experience imposter syndrome when entering a space where there aren’t many others like them, and so they begin to avoid applying to certain companies, programs, or universities due to fear of being left out or not good enough. It gives us a boost of confidence when we see others who have a similar background to us.”
Charles, and 24 other interns from all over the world, who she called her “new friends,” spent the week getting to know each other, which ultimately helped them work toward a successful U.S. Open.
“The hardest part of the internship was staying engaged because our days were long and filled with activities,” she said. “Being that I had no former background in golf I thought I would be lost but everyone, including the interns, were helpful in giving me insight into what was going on and the background of the people we were talking to.”
Gabrielle’s day-by-day journal
Today is arrival day for the interns at the Country Club in Brookline. I left from EWR around 11:50 am (Newark, NJ) and landed in Boston, MA around 1:45 pm. The flight was smooth, but the airport was difficult to navigate. The country club provided all the interns with a 200 dollars visa gift card to help pay for expenses to and from the airports in order to get the Pine Manor College (PMC) which is in the same vicinity as The Country Club. When I arrived, I texted Justine, and she pulled up in the parking lot of Pine Manor College to help myself and another intern to get the dorms we were going to be staying in for the next week.
She took us to the dorms, and I went to my room and began unpacking and settling in and that’s when my roommate Taylor walked in. She’s originally from North Carolina and she’s also a graduate student. Across the hall from us were Skylar and Jada, and both were in undergrad attending University Southern California and Howard University. The rest of the day was spent meeting the other interns as they came in from their flights, we played uno and did a bit of icebreaking to get to know each other a bit more before the real fun (or work) began.
The day started early for us, we had to be down in the lobby by 6:15am to have breakfast at a hall located at PMC. There, we had orientation and they handed us our package which included our credentials to have access to enter the country club during championship week. We met several members of the country club like Marisa MacDonald, Todd Graff and a few others to discuss what it’s like working at the club and their roles. After orientation we had a property tour of the country club, the scenery was amazing, and we were able to see the final touches of the course before it was ready to use by the golfers in the coming days.
Once the tour was over, we had breakfast and headed over to the Titleist Golf facility to have a tour on how their Pro V golf balls are made from scratch. Our tour guide, Richard, was very informative about the factory and frequently mentioned how Titleist golf balls are the best and it’s hard to disagree when I’ve seen how much detail goes into making just one ball. At the end of the tour, we were given a ball to take home as we headed to the Manchester Lane test facility to learn about how they make sure the balls are playable and ready to be used by the pros. We ended the night with dinner at Titleist and we all received a 12-pack case of golf balls on our way out!
Today was probably the earliest we woke up since we had to practice how to get to the course, in case we all ended up not wanting to leave at the same time as a group. Our first tour was at the merchandise tent and there we got behind the scenes of how the USGA and all the vendors work together and how they manage the inventory. After, we went to the USGA Historical Exhibit and got to see a lot of cool artifacts (even those used by Tiger himself) and was told that it’s the oldest sport exhibit by about a few years over the MLB exhibit. Once we were done at the course, we had about an hour to get ready to head to downtown Boston for our first panel of the internship with Deloitte. Most of the individuals there dealt with more of the financial side of the USGA, so even though they had great advice, there wasn’t much I personally could take from it being a sport management major, however it did show me that the partnerships aren’t always centered around a sporting company.
At the end of the night, we went to a dinner event at the Quin House and there I was able to meet Marcus Wilson who is the co-founder of NOBULL, and I was able to gain a lot of insight on the dos and don’ts of a start-up company in the beginning stages. I was speaking to Nii Ofosu-Amaah and Tari Cash about my start up as well and was told by both that entrepreneurship is not an easy journey but it’s worth it in the end.
The day started at the volunteer tent which was then followed by another session with Deloitte that focused on hospitality and how they treat their clients when visiting or wanting to open an account with Deloitte. Our mornings, compared to the last two, were calmer and not as rushed as the last two days because we had about a two-hour break before our networking lunch. A couple of the interns and I went to an area to watch some golf and prepare ourselves for the networking lunch. Once our break was over, we walked to this beautiful house that was hosted by one of the Country Club members for the networking lunch. There I was able to ask some more questions regarding entrepreneurship with Marcus and I was able to speak to Ashley Marusak who works in the sport entertainment side at Cisco. She really gave me some insight on the many paths I can take in the sport industry if I don’t have a desire to be in one area and want to explore other areas. Sports agencies were our main topic of conversation and that wasn’t something I considered until that conversation.
After the networking lunch, we had a panel that centered on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and many of the panelists were CEO and founders. So, I was able to ask Sheila Clark, Phyllis Barajas and Nicole Obi a few questions regarding their companies and the various challenges they went through when they first began and how they were able to still preserve and continue despite the setbacks. Their insight really placed me in the mindset of still going for your dreams and aspirations even when your back is up against the wall because at the end there is a lot of good that can come out of it.
Wednesday – Wednesday consists of NBCU Academy activities that varied from storytelling and professional development tips that will help us once we go out into the workforce. There was a panel on marketing and communications represented by NBC members who gave us insight on what it is like in the journalism and broadcasting industry. After this panel we had a tour of the NBC site visit where we visited the tent that oversees everything we see on TV regarding the US Open and lastly, we were able to visit the broadcasting site where the TV reporters of the US Open air to discuss the championship live.
Today consists of Media and Communications aspect of the US Open, we went to the tent where most of the radio, newspaper, and media personnel took place. As you walk in, all you can hear are fingers typing on keyboards but there was something calming about the area, it did not feel like it was hectic. We were able to view the interviewing area where players would be speaking after their rounds and we were informed on how they regulate the number of questions reporters could ask, especially if a player had a bad play. We took a few pictures and then headed back to the dorms to get ready for the Tea Up Diversity event hosted by Anthony Anderson.
We are nearing the end of the internship and today we were able to listen and meet with the new president of the USGA Francis Perpall who is originally from the Bahamas, and he discussed his journey to becoming the person he is today and how he was able to navigate corporate America with little to no help from others, especially coming from an immigrant background like myself and being a first-generation student; while we were there we met former NFL player Larry Fitzerald.
Afterwards, we had three back-to-back panels with the first one being focused on the operations and logistics side of the US Open. The second two were centered on women in leadership and the USGA leadership, both panels I was able to get a deeper sense on the work culture of the USGA and how everyone regardless of their position was connected somehow and treated one another like family even if they only see one another one or twice a month. Towards the end of the night, we ended the night with the final presentations of the seven interns that were
conducted on Tuesday. They presented their ideas to seven individuals, and one included the CEO of the USGA Mike Whan.
Lastly, we finished the business/work portion of the internship by have about half hour to hour feedback discussion with the interns and those in charge of the Lee Elder Internship to see where they can improve come next US Open at LA TCC.
Now that “work” is over, the internship committee scheduled a day tour of Boston for the us that ended with close seats to the Boston Red Sox game. We started the day at the Union Oyster House, which is consider Boston oldest establishment that hosted many prominent individuals like presidents and high-profile celebrities. Next, we took a duck boat tour around the city, which ended up going into the water towards the end which was cool because I have never seen a truck/boat just casually drive into water so smoothly. After the tour we had some free time to explore on our own.
Once we got to the game, the weather dropped rapidly and many of the interns were not the biggest baseball fans but being with each other made the experience worth since this was technically our last outing together before we headed our separate ways. The artist who sang Sweet Caroline ended up surprising the fans and sang the song live towards the conclusion of the game!
We’ve finally come to the end of the internship, and it does not even feel like it. Today was more of a full free day for the interns to do whatever we wanted, unfortunately the weather was not on our side as it was a bit too chilly to fully enjoy Boston on our own. The day consisted of shooting some film for NBC so that they can create and put together the montage of the internship and afterwards we were free to watch the remaining day of the championship, explore Boston, or head back to the dorms to get ahead of packing which is what I did.
We were told to meet back at the course by 7 pm to watch the final plays of the US Open and to have a chance to meet and speak with the champion Mat Fitzpatrick himself. Unfortunately, directions on where to meet were not clear and so about half of the interns were able to meet him while others were not. Nonetheless, it did not ruin the experience of the internship because all of us left with a wonderful experience and valuable advice from the various panel speakers and other individuals we met at the networking events.