A Golfing Showcase In Florida

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: May 8, 2009

FLORIDA — Dr. Gary Freeman, a PGA Professional and head coach of the men’s and women’s teams at Bethune-Cookman University, is becoming very familiar with winning championships. His teams have a total of nine division titles during his 10-year stint at the university.

“We have a great golf program at our university,” said Freeman, who began his career in 1992 at Palm Harbor Golf Club in Palm Coast “We have the full support of the university and the athletic director which is also key to any good program.”

Now in its 23rd year, the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship will feature nearly 200 athletes from minority-serving institutions and minority students attending any college or university.

The Championship, which began Friday and runs through Sunday, will be staged for the 12th consecutive year at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

PGA Teaching Professional Craig Shankland of Ormond Beach, Fla., the 2001 PGA Teacher of the Year, counts many Bethune-Cookman players among his students.

“It is outstanding to have Craig and I working with the players,” said Freeman, a PGA member since 1996. “It is great to have another PGA Professional to offer expert advice when a player may need some tweaking in their game.”

Freeman acknowledged that winning this year’s Championship will not be easy, but is looking forward to the challenge it will provide.

“We are peaking at the right time, which is positive,” said Freeman. “This year’s team is not as powerful as year’s past, but we will come well-prepared.”

A total of 38 colleges and universities will be represented and participate in the three-day competition that will be contested on the Tom Fazio-designed Ryder and Wanamaker Courses.

“The PGA of America is excited to host this Championship, which continues to grow in stature each and every year,” said PGA of America President Jim Remy. “The playing experience, as well as the Business of Golf Career Expo provides student-athletes with a rare opportunity to showcase their talent on and off the golf course.”

The 54-hole, stroke-play championship will consist of four team divisions: NCAA Men’s Division I and II, and NAIA Men’s and Women’s. In addition, there is an Individual Invitational competition for minority men and women contestants. The Individual Invitational is open to students who are African- American, Hispanic-American, Native- or Alaskan-American, Asian- or Pacific Island-American.

“It is an honor to host the 2009 PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship for a 12th consecutive year,” said PGA Village General Manager Bob Baldassari. “We believe both courses will provide a stern test of golf as collegiate golfers from across the country gather for a most prestigious Championship.”

In addition to the defending champion men’s and women’s teams from Bethune-Cookman University, Fayetteville State University will make a bid for a fourth consecutive title in Men’s Division II. Sara Young of Florida State University, the defending champion in the Independent Women’s division and a college senior, will also look to repeat this year.

The Championship features the 15th Business of Golf Career Expo, which will highlight some 25 golf industry associations and companies that will present student-athletes with the opportunity to learn about employment opportunities within the golf industry including manufacturing, media, trade, golf course management and the premier governing bodies in the industry.