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Dawes Marlatt, 37, takes reins of PGA of America golf education programs

Tom SpoustaBy Tom Spousta,
Dawes Marlatt - PGA of America
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Dawes Marlatt built the PGM program at the University of Idaho. (Courtesy of the PGA of America)

The jump from college campus to corporate office might seem as long as, say, moving from Idaho to Florida. Dawes Marlatt paused to consider the change in scenery, then laughed at the perception of the leap.

"When you think about it, I guess it goes from about 80 students to 28,000 members and apprentices," Marlatt said. "It's very humbling, and I'm very flattered to be ask to do this job."

Marlatt, 37, was recently named director of education for the PGA of America, and judging by his background at the University of Idaho, he's well-prepared to tackle his new job description: "overseeing member and apprentice education, which includes coordinating with the PGA of America's Instruction, Membership and Employment Services departments in managing the educational programming and curriculums for the Association."

In other words, whether it's for a PGA of America apprentice or a 30-year club professional, Marlatt will be the go-to guy for all things educational. PGA of America headquarters is in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., but he's based just up I-95, at the PGA Education Center in Port St. Lucie.

"We need to be good players and promote the game, but we need to be good business leaders, too," said Marlatt, a PGA master professional. "With education and golf, somewhere in the middle of there lies a good balance."

At Idaho, Marlatt showed his ability to grab the reins and take control. From the ground up, he designed, implemented and promoted the PGA Golf Management University Program (PGM), which became accredited in 2001. He also served as the general manager of the University of Idaho Golf Course.

"What got me hooked on the PGA was when I got involved as an adjunct faculty member with the PGM. That got me inspired to design the program," Marlatt said. "Things just took off from there."

Learning and teaching goes hand-in-hand for Marlatt, who has a bachelor's degree in marketing and a masters in sports and recreation management, both from the University of Idaho. Sure, he had high school dreams of becoming a star on the PGA Tour, but academics took hold on him early.

Indeed, talking to Marlatt, you get the sense he has found his dream job.

So, what's the difference between students and PGA pros?

"At the university level, you deal with only the apprentice," he said. "Here, we're dealing with apprentices, members and all facets of the PGA family rather than one particular segment. The professional maturity of the membership allows for some unique opportunities for education. It's listening as much as it is doing, with the hope we can create programs to assist in their workplace."

Marlatt knows the impact a mentor can have on someone. He counts two well-known teachers, Hank Haney and Jim Hardy, among his influences. Marlatt has worked with both on and off the practice range and said, "The door has always been open to me for their help. From a teaching standpoint, they've been very instrumental to me on how the game should be taught and approached."

A new breed of techno-savvy PGA Professional

A new, techno-savvy breed of young golf professionals has filled the pipeline, Marlatt believes, and having a positive affect on them will be as important as ever.

"I see some very dramatic and impressive people coming down the road - the person that's a byproduct of all today's technology and knowledge ... the Generation Z person with an iPod, cell phone and laptop," he said. "We've got to be involved and sensitive with that kind of future PGA Professionals.

"But the common denominator of all this is the relationship and the game."

Veteran golf writer Tom Spousta keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. He has covered golf and other sports for USA Today and The New York Times. Tom lives on a Donald Ross-designed golf course in Sarasota, Fla.

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