New partnership encourages diverse future for golf industry

A dual degree-certificate program connects The Ohio State University, Wilberforce University and Westfield Country Club.


Craig Kirby, William Ware, Doug Karcher and Mark Jordan
(L-R) Golf. MyFuture. MyGame CEO Craig Kirby, Wilberforce University Men's and Women's Golf Coach William Ware, Ohio State University Horticulture and Crop Science Dept. Chair Doug Karcher and Mark Jordan, CGCS, at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between WU and OSU. Photo courtesy of Mark Jordan.

A new program developed in partnership with Westfield Country Club, GCSAA immediate past president Mark Jordan, CGCS, and Golf. My Future. My Game Founder and CEO Craig Kirby will help students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) pursue careers in turf management and golf operations.

On Tuesday, June 28, Ohio State University entered into a formal partnership with Wilberforce University, the country's oldest private HBCU, to develop a scalable program allowing Wilberforce students to pursue a dual degree and certificate from OSU and Wilberforce.

Starting this fall, participating Wilberforce students will receive college credit for OSU-offered courses in turfgrass management, history of golf courses and golf management. The credits can be applied to an academic certificate in agronomy accompanying their Wilberforce degree.

Jordan, an OSU alum, and Kirby, whose organization supports the involvement of underrepresented populations in golf, co-created the Careers In Golf program at Westfield Country Club. Internship activities include on-site education in customer experience, golf etiquette, dining etiquette and conducting business on the golf course. Off-site education opportunities include visits to Hurdzan Golf Design, professional golf tournaments including the PGA Tour’s Memorial tournament and the LPGA’s Marathon Classic and Ohio’s Clearview Golf Club, the country’s first Black-owned and racially integrated course.

After the program’s first year, which partnered Westfield Country Club with Albion College and Howard University, Jordan and Kirby identified a gap between the program’s offerings and available majors at their partner schools. No HBCUs currently provide majors related to turf management and golf operations, leaving students limited options to pursue a desired career in the industry.

The memorandum of understanding between OSU and Wilberforce is the beginning of what will hopefully become a growing collaboration with HBCUs, allowing students to continue their professional and academic growth in golf and turf management. The agreement also pays homage to Wilberforce alum and Clearview Golf Club founder Bill Powell.