The date was April 30, and the temperature was below 40 degrees. I grew up in Atlanta and went to college in Florida, so the chill in the air was more than I anticipated for this time of year. As I stepped off the plane in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I was uncertain of what my next two months in the “cheese state” would look like. Warped together were nerves and excitement, but it was hard to tell which one overwhelmed me more.
In the face of my uneasiness, I never questioned why I was there. I had competed successfully for an internship with the United States Golf Association (USGA) and earned the chance to spend two months preparing for and executing the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
I was determined to make those two months a time to learn. Not only to learn more about the golf industry and the nuances of operating a major championship, but also more about myself and my interests. I vowed to work diligently to help the event be a success, and at the same time grow my professional and personal network. I knew I had to do a great job – go beyond what was expected of me so that I could pave the way for other students at my university and represent Women of Color Golf (WOCG) – the organization operated by Clemmie Perry, who played a pivotal role throughout my internship and has been supportive of me from Day One.
It all began when I was a few weeks into my second semester as a freshman at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). I learned from the career services portal associated with my business school about an internship opportunity with the USGA for the summer of 2017. I had challenged myself prior to my freshman year to seek an internship that would allow me to supplement my academics with real work experience (paid or unpaid), as well as further develop my personal and professional skills.
The interview process with the USGA included a phone call, a video interview conducted online and then another call. I was thrilled when I received that one last call from the USGA’s Kamille Ramos notifying that I’d been selected as one of the 2017 interns.
It was after that when I became familiar with Ms. Perry, a FAMU alumni and the founder of the WOCG. The organization’s root mission – to promote and facilitate the inclusion of minority women in golf – drew me to the non-profit. Ms. Perry’s undying enthusiasm for that mission and authentic support of goals upon landing the internship inspired me to get further involved. I elected to become a WOCG Ambassador, which I found extremely beneficial and fulfilling. I believe to whom much is given, much is expected. I embrace the role of trying to increase the involvement of minorities and women, like myself, in the game and business of golf. Through my position with the USGA and as a WOCG Ambassador, I encourage others to learn more about the game and seek opportunities within the field.
Prior to the internship, admittedly, I was oblivious to the impact the Open would have on the small rural town of Hartford, Wisconsin. Located 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, this hidden jewel has green pastures that stretch for miles inhabited by grazing farm animals.
Upon my arrival, the merchandising staff welcomed me to the team. The next day, I was able to visit the 39,000-square foot merchandise tent that I would be assigned to work at during the championship. Although it was still under construction at the time, I recognized in that moment the magnitude of the operation.
(Photos courtesy of Livi Simone Grant.)