Golf Academy drives players to South Carolina

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WCSC) - It's an intense 16-month program that is becoming a hit throughout the country. One of five campuses of the Golf Academy of America is just two hours North of the Lowcountry in Myrtle Beach where students there eat, sleep and live the game of golf.

From studying to putting, the nation wide Academy drives its students into the golf world.

There are simulators, a putting green even an indoor sand trap and those are just a few of the things that students have at their finger tips. The program may seem like fun and games but in reality it's an intense program.

And students there aren't allowed a mulligan.

"It is 24/7 golf," says instructor Gregg Funderburk. "It encompasses everything you need to know about the golf business in sixteen months."

Funderburk says it would take a normal school two and a half years to accomplish what the Academy does for its students in a mere four semesters.

Just teeing off at the school is Mt. Pleasant resident Jerome Maxi.

"I knew nothing about golf when I got here," says Maxi. The rookie joined the school in July because he was looking for an outlet for himself and a way to help others.

As a wounded veteran, golf was one of the things that fit the criteria.

"I was kind of limited in a lot of things that I could do," says Maxi. "Golf has actually made me grow a little bit more. It's been good therapy for me."

Maxi hopes to one day teach underprivileged children the game he's learned to love once he graduates and his story is just one of many.

"I passed up playing on a college golf team," says Kyle Bourassa, who was drawn to the Palmetto State to continue his golfing education.

"I felt this school was a more direct [path] to the industry I wanted to work in," says Bourassa.

Students that attend the school learn everything from club management to club repair.  Professional PGA instruction and learning how to operate a tournament are weekly events.

And playing eighteen holes is a class. Twice a week.

Funderburk says the Academy is one of a kind but isn't for the faint of heart.

"If this is what you want to do," says Funderburk, "whether you want to be in the field or not, and you have the time, this is where you want to be."

The five campuses, in Myrtle Beach, SC - Orlando, FL - San Diego, CA - Phoenix, AZ and the newest addition in Dallas, TX, combined to graduate 700 students last year. The Academy says once students graduate, 85% are successfully placed in entry level golf positions throughout the country.

Each graduate earns an associate degree in Golf Complex Operations and Management.

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