When Carly Ulrich finally decided to pursue a degree in golf management, she spent one long and exhausting day canceling all her psychology classes and enrolling in courses that would be transferable.
She can laugh about that minor sacrifice today, especially now that she’s finished with her role in corporate sales and retail operations at the U.S. Senior Open.
“All I knew was that I wanted to teach and merchandise,” Ulrich said. “I didn’t care where I went.”
She’s doing exactly that for Omaha Country Club, which is why she chose about a half-decade ago to end her collegiate golf career at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and move to Lincoln to prepare for a future job associated with a sport she’d been playing since age 5.
In 2009, she was the first female to graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in PGA golf management, a 9-year-old program that’s one of 20 nationally.
The specialty major requires 16 months of internship experience before graduation, along with the completion of standard core course requirements and a series of classes specific to the golf industry.
“It’s everything, from the business of golf, to customer relations, to how to teach players golf,” said Alan Baquet, the university’s PGA golf management director. “By the time students have graduated, they’ve had lots of interaction (with the industry).”
Perhaps that is why Baquet said the program’s alumni typically don’t have much difficulty looking for a golf job after they leave school.
Ulrich’s first was at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., but she returned to Omaha just in time to help organize the biggest golf event in the community’s history.
There were two other former UNL students involved in the organization and execution of several behind-the-scenes aspects at the U.S. Senior Open, too. Three current students interned at the event, including Jami Melson, who’s in her second year at UNL.
Melson was a semester away from graduating from the University of Nebraska at Kearney two years ago, but she kept hearing about possibility of getting a golf degree. Eventually, she looked into it.
“Everything I wanted to do was golf-related,” Melson said. “I was thinking about the number of opportunities I would have.”
Like working at the championship event last week or managing the pro shop at Omaha Country Club for the past few months while Ulrich focused on pitching U.S. Senior Open sponsorship options to local businesses.
Both Melson and Ulrich are ready for a short vacation now that the Open’s over, though.
Of course, it likely won’t be long before they’re back at work on the next project.
Melson comes from a golfing family. Her brother, Bret, hit a hole in one from 448 yards out in 2006, believed to be a world record.
Ulrich, from Norfolk, said she didn’t truly fall in love with the sport until her mom, Cindy Froehlich, died of cancer in 2002. Ulrich dedicates her determination to Mom.
Now, Ulrich is glad to be helping others enjoy playing golf the same way she and her mom did.
“Golf is so many people’s hobby, their escape. This is what they love to do,” Ulrich said. “I just try to be as carefree and as nice as I can be. It’s very service-oriented.”