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Michigan Golf Course Association Honors Apprentices in Landmark Program

Published on 12/7/2023

LANSING – Michael Flatt and Russell Smascz, who in the last year took part in a landmark golf course maintenance Registered Apprenticeship program at The Highlands at Harbor Springs Resort, have been honored with recognition of completion certificates by the Michigan Golf Course Association (MGCA).

  In the last year the MGCA in coordination with the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Department of Labor, created and implemented the new Golf Course Maintenance Technician Registered Apprenticeship program. Through the Registered Apprenticeship Program interested candidates can further their agronomy education, work alongside field experts to gain on-the-job learning and gain a national occupation credential.

  Josh Richter, the senior vice-president of golf operations for Boyne Golf, which includes The Highlands at Harbor Springs, accepted the certificates of completion for Flatt and Smascz during the recent MGCA Awards Banquet that was part of the 2023 Michigan Golf Business Conference
and Vendor Fair at FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek.

  Richter called the apprenticeship program impactful in helping golf course operations seek and train people interested in a golf course maintenance career.

  “Boyne is proud to be involved with a program that in such a positive way helps address the labor shortage in the golf industry,” he said.

  Scott Jedele, state administrative manager, apprenticeship expansion at Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, attended the Awards Banquet and honored the MGCA with the “Race to Talent™ with Registered Apprenticeship” CHAMPION Award. This award is given by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to recognize organizations who grow critically needed talent across the state using the Registered Apprenticeship Program training model.

  The training model is proven to accelerate right-skills development while ensuring the highest level of safety and return on investment. Use of the model benefits employers, jobseekers, communities and the state. MGCA’s development, promotion and implementation of the Golf Course Maintenance Technician Registered Apprenticeship program is helping members grow the specific talent they need, while providing a way for apprentices working in the program to be recognized for the specialized skills they gain during the training. Those efforts boost both the careers of the apprentices and their employer’s success.

  “To implement this in the last year and have apprentices complete the program is impressive on a national scale,” Jedele said. “MGCA is being recognized as a “Champion of Champions for their leadership in using the training model to develop highly skilled workers in Michigan.”

   Jada Paisley, executive director of the MGCA, said this initiative cultivates the specific talents essential for our members and also provides a recognized pathway for apprentices, acknowledging their specialized skills.

  “As the MGCA continues to be the 'voice of Michigan golf business,' we extend our gratitude to our members like Jim Szilagyi, MGCA 2023 Vice-President and 2024 President and owner of Lynx Golf Club in Otsego, and industry partners including the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation, Michigan Golf Course Superintendents Association and Golf Course Superintendents Association of America,” she said. “Together, we propel careers, enhance skills, and contribute to the enduring success of the Michigan golfing community.

  “Workforce issues are significant in the golf industry and part of a solution is helping people see the variety of opportunities that exist within the Michigan golf industry. We have 800 courses in Michigan and with opportunities  like this there are opportunities to present to young people the range of possible careers in the agronomic, restaurant, lodging, hospitality and tourism parts of our industry.”


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