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April 2021

Brown Golf Offers an Outlet for Future Minority Leaders

By Steve Eubanks

Sometimes it’s just about giving people a chance. John Brown of Brown Golf Management knows all about that. He built his business on finding motivated self-starters, people who bring an entrepreneurial mindset into an existing multi-course structure. That was why Brown and Billy Dillon clicked.

Dillon manages the Professional Golf Management program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shores, the only Historically Black College that offers the PGM program. Brown was looking for interns for the facilities he has under management. Dillon had students looking for real-world work experience. It was a perfect match. 

“He and I really hit it off,” Brown said of his relationship with Dillon. “He’s a progressive thinker. He wants to make sure his students are in the best position possible when they graduate. We can help with that.” 

Eastern Shores wasn’t Brown’s first choice. He originally approached Penn State, which also has a PGM program, but received a lukewarm reception. “Penn State is located about an hour and a half from our offices, where University of Maryland Eastern Shores is four hours away,” Brown said. “But Penn State didn’t have a big interest. Some of those schools that have offered PGM programs for a lot of years have well-established internship relationships with high-end private clubs. Maybe a company like ours with our portfolio doesn’t fit what they’re trying to do.

“But University of Maryland Eastern Shores, they’re looking to place interns in private clubs, high-end daily fee, resort courses and with management companies so they were far more receptive to partnering with a management company like ours. Plus, last spring, with all the racial tensions in the country, I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that I wanted to use some of the expertise that I had gained over the years in business to give people who are self-motivated the tools to help themselves in the future. I felt like I could assist.

“The golf industry, not just in matters regarding race but in a lot of areas, is very slow to adapt and change,” Brown said. “I felt like this was the right time.”

One multi-course operator partnering with one Historically Black College isn’t going to change the world or even the game. But it is a positive step.  

“The way internships work, we will have an intern for about six months,” Brown said. “As students continue to take internships and progress from there into professional opportunities, we’ll be able to evolve. I really like what we’ve done so far. It’s been really rewarding for me. And from what I’ve heard from the students, it’s kind of a refreshing educational agenda that’s different from the standard curriculum for them.

“When you give people opportunities, there are always going to be certain faces in that room who are self motivated, and who want to show the world what they can do,” Brown said. “That’s why I reached out to the University of Maryland Eastern Shores to begin with. It wasn’t so much about, ‘Hey, let’s correct all the racial issues in golf.’ It was about saying, ‘Hey, let’s give opportunities to a group of students who might not have gotten them in the past.’ I believe there are going to be a good number of those students who are going to shine and prove to the world that they can do this; that they can be the best and do the best for themselves.

“Frankly, those are the people we want to be associated with, no matter their background, their wealth or where they learned to play. We don’t care if they grew up in private country clubs or teaching themselves the game at the municipal golf course. As long as they’re self motivated and want to learn about the industry, we want to associate with them.”

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