Former SCGA Foundation Intern Chris Pope took the experiences he learned with the Foundation and used them to further advance his career. Not only has he recently been promoted at his current job working with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, but he also received his graduate degree in sports management, where he focused his capstone project on affordable golf for youth in Southern California, something he became familiar with when working with the Foundation. We checked in with Chris for an update on his findings.
Tell us a little about your recent promotion and what it feels like to climb the ranks so quickly
I was genuinely surprised when they informed me of the promotion. Becoming the Director of Sponsorships was a goal I had set for myself when I started my sport management career with the Brett Sports organization (Brett Sports & Entertainment owns and operates the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes). To be offered this position in such a short period of time is true honor. It is great knowing that management believes in me and what I can bring to the organization. I contribute a great deal of my success to the experiences I encountered during my Sports Management Masters Program as well as the internships I participated in, such as with the SCGA Foundation.
You recently completed your graduated degree in sports management and did your capstone project on affordable junior golf in Southern California, something you worked with while interning with the Foundation. Can you talk about what you learned during your research and what conclusions you came to?
One of the biggest problems in sports today is the limited accessibility to youth of all backgrounds. Compared to other sports, golf more than any other, falls into the category of limited access. It is a significant problem that youth are unable to access golf facilities for a price their families can afford. With costs so high, there is very little opportunity for youth of lesser economic backgrounds to participate. The purpose of my capstone project was to explore affordable golf access to youth and provide a solution to the problem of high costs associated with golf.
During my research I learned that there are a number of organizations throughout the country that are trying to provide affordable golf to youth between the ages of 7-18. My studies showed that childres ages 7-18 are more likely to engage in the developmental skills that sports, specifically golf has to offer. The idea of my project was to create a nationwide program of a collection of courses offering affordable access to youth, so that children no matter their geographic location to the program headquarters can find a course nearest to them. I named the program E.A.G.L.E (Enabling Affordable Golf & Life Experiences).
I learned that it would be difficult to operate any kind of nationwide program because of how much interaction would be needed by each golf course. There needs to continue to be individual programs such as the SCGA Foundation to provide affordable golf access. Without the SCGA Foundation, thousands of youth each year would not have the ability to play golf.
How did your internship with the SCGA Foundation help influence your capstone topic?
It was while working for the SCGA Foundation that I discovered there are a number youth that are unable to afford golf access. It was this that encouraged me to do my graduate capstone project on affordable golf access for youth. My internship with the Foundation provided insights on the importance of youth golf and what it can provide in life skills to those who participate.
I know you enjoy playing golf and have done so competitively. Are you still competing in events? How often do you get out on the course?
I am still competing in events. I primarly play on the Golf Channel Amatuer Tour in Palm Springs. I'll typically play in 1-2 tournaments a month and get out recreationally another 1-2 times a month. Golf has become a passion of mine. I enjoy meeting new people and spending time with friends and family on the course. I have also found golf to be a great business tool. I could honestly say without golf I would be a different person.