Looking Back on a Summer with Mass Golf as a “Non-Golfer” Turned Golf Enthusiast - MASSGOLF

Looking Back on a Summer with Mass Golf as a “Non-Golfer” Turned Golf Enthusiast

By: Hannah Yoshinaga

I started my internship with Mass Golf hardly knowing much about the sport I would be working in all summer.

You might ask what would interest a non-golfer in an internship at Mass Golf in the first place. To be frank, I wasn’t sure I could articulate the exact reason either when I hit “apply,” even though I knew there was a nebulous something that felt right about it.

I headed to my first day on the job, the Cris Eaton Chapman Tournament, without knowing much about what I was getting myself into. It turned out to be quite the learning curve – in addition to getting trained on how to edit the website and write event recaps, I had to learn how to drive a golf cart and read a scorecard. While it was an inevitable consequence of being the non-golfer in the room, I felt like I had a big giant sticker on my forehead that screamed “I don’t belong here!”

The learning curve continued as my first few weeks went on, when it came to both understanding how golf actually worked and becoming more confident interviewing competitors and other subjects (in other words, accepting that none of them were going to bite my head off if I simply asked to speak with them).

My newfound conviction came at the perfect time, too, with an impressive lineup of events to work during the month of June. Reps writing stories and editing videos at the Mass Open, the Griscom Cup and the Women’s Stroke Play Championship were solid preparation for what was arguably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done: working as a member of the media at the U.S. Open.

I got to take photos during the practice rounds and had a front-row seat at Michael Thorbjornsen’s pre-event press conference. I got to create content showcasing the great work members of Mass Golf were doing around the championship, including one of my favorite stories of the summer that featured Mike Curtin and his experience volunteering in disability services. I also got to soak in the magic that is attending a golf major at a course as special as The Country Club, which is a memory I’ll carry with me forever.

Afterward, I was able to take on a greater role preparing materials for members of the media ahead of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, our biggest event of the year. I also wrote more features and developed a love for telling stories around the Mass Golf community, such as John Broderick’s reflection on his 2020 New England Amateur win at Concord Country Club.

With the Mass Amateur on the horizon, I started to truly believe that there was a place for me and my work in the golf world, despite the non-golfer label I’d self-applied before giving myself much a chance in the field.

It was also at the Mass Amateur that I was finally able to put into words what was so appealing about Mass Golf in the first place. What happened over the five-day course of the championship was the craziest, most uplifting and confidence-inspiring moment in sports I’ve ever witnessed in person. Seeing Conner Willett win the championship in the face of unspeakable tragedy was special by itself — but seeing the Mass Golf community rally around him was also remarkable and what made me realize what an incredible place Mass Golf really is.

It’s pretty hard to top being part of something like that, but I’ve had plenty of valuable experiences since then as well, whether it be spotlighting Titleist lifer Patty Sands or heading to scenic Vermont to cover the New England Junior Amateur. I also had a great time celebrating public golf at the Amateur Public Links earlier this month.

As my internship comes to a close, I’ve started to reflect on my experiences with Mass Golf and what I’m going to take away after 600 hours on the job.

I’ve been mind-blown since Day 1 by not only how incredible the game of golf can be to watch, but also by what a wonderful sense of community the sport can build. 103 days later, I still feel incredibly moved by heartwarming conversations I had with people like Mike Curtin or Broderick’s coach Charlie Doar, who spoke about why he felt so fortunate to coach him. I’m still amazed by some of the performances I saw on the course, such as Morgan Smith’s dominant New England Amateur win. I still think that Shannon Johnson, Megan Buck and Pam Kuong are some of the coolest athletes (and people) I’ve ever been around.

What will stick with me for just as long are the experiences I had with the members of the Mass Golf staff who make it a great place to work. Though I spent the early parts of my internship fearing I would stick out for being a so-called non-golfer, it was the other members of the Mass Golf family who made me feel welcome and gave me the confidence to realize that I could still do meaningful work even if I couldn’t swing a club well or chip out of the rough for my life.

I am forever thankful for the Championships managers who patiently answered my (many) questions about our events and the sport of golf itself. I am also forever thankful for the guidance I received from the Marketing & Communications team, which allowed me to get an amount of hands-on experience I never would have expected and gain incomparable insight into the golf communications world.

Finally, I am grateful for the model of leadership I got to witness on a near daily basis from Executive Director/CEO Jesse Menachem and Director of Marketing & Communications Cat Carmignani. It’s not every day that you get a firsthand look into what leading a winning organization looks like.

I can’t say for sure how soon my future will lead me back to the golf industry, but I know that I’m incredibly grateful for these past four months working in it. Maybe my next foray into the sport will be learning how to play at some point (no promises though).

In short — and since the numbers say that everyone likes lists — here are my takeaways from the summer:

  1. Golf expertise not required to work in the golf world. Anyone can do it and come out of it with a summer internship experience like no other.
  2. Mass Golf was a great place to work.
  3. Golf is really cool.