A golf professional’s job is never an easy one. Some professionals inevitably wind up working harder than others.
And then there’s Tony Semonick.
Semonick, 28, has worked on PGA professional and Director of Golf Jim Sobb’s staff at Ivanhoe Club since graduating from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., in 2012. His work days aren’t like any other assistant pros. He’s also a graduate student, and not just at your typical graduate school program. He’s working on his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Northwestern University’s well-respected Kellogg School of Management.
Ivanhoe gets most of his time. “I’m there six days a week,” said Semonick.
Semonick’s undergraduate degree at Ferris State was in Professional Golf Management. Ferris State has been a collegiate pioneer in offering programs in that area. The school became the first university program sanctioned by the PGA of America in 1975. Semonick is from Livonia, Mich., so Ferris State was a good geographical fit for his career aspirations.
Ivanhoe has been a good fit, for Tony. Sobb brought Semonick to Ivanhoe as an intern in 2010. And, three months after his graduation he was hired on as an assistant golf professional.
Last summer Semonick decided he needed to further his academic credentials and eventually enrolled at Kellogg School of Management, which is Northwestern’s business school.
“I applied to Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Northwestern,” he said, “but Northwestern was my first choice. With its part-time program it allowed me to pursue my education and to keep working.”
During the winter months Semonick spends more time on Northwestern’s campuses in Evanston and downtown Chicago. When Ivanhoe members start turning out to play golf in the spring he shares his golf professional duties and student responsibilities equally. He takes classes on Mondays, the quietest day of the week at Ivanhoe, and Tuesdays during the golf season.
Monday is Semonick’s usual day off, but his Tuesdays can be hectic. Semonick checks in at Ivanhoe at 6:45 a.m. and runs the ladies league in the morning. When his duties there are done he returns to his home in Barrington and catches the 3:18 p.m. train to Chicago. It arrives at 4:30 p.m., and Semonick either makes the two-mile walk to the NU campus or grabs a ride through Uber to the campus.
Northwestern provides dinner before Semonick’s three hours of class begin at 6 p.m. When they’re over he catches a 9:30 p.m. train back to Barrington. After a few hours rest he’s back in Ivanhoe’s pro shop for another day tending to golf shop responsibilities.
Semonick manages his time by staying organized and prioritizing his responsibilities. “I don’t have time to waste, knowing when everything is due and what I have coming up next is key. Jim, the staff and I set the schedule every week making sure I can cover my duties at work while allowing ample time for school,” said Semonick.
And, he’s even utilized some of his golf knowledge in class.
“In my strategy class last quarter, we studied a case about a startup company whose technology changed the color of golf balls that had been submerged in water for a certain period of time, changing the balls performance characteristics. The idea was to shrink the used golf ball market by taking these damaged golf balls out of play, causing people to buy new golf balls. I was able to add additional insight on industry trends, pricing, margins and general information about the game of golf and different qualities of golf balls,” he said.
Semonick typically comes into the pro shop early, leaving enough time in the evening to meet with student groups, participate in conference calls and get to class in the evenings.
“Jim’s been great in supporting me, and the hours have been pretty flexible,” said Semonick. Tony needs to obtain 20 ½ credits to get his MBA with a major in finance and strategy. He’s on track to complete his requirements in August of 2019.
After that Semonick isn’t sure what he’ll do. He doesn’t expect to stay in golf, though.
“At first I thought I’d stay in golf, but then I started seeing other opportunities and at this point I’m leaving all of my options open.”
He won’t rule out returning to golf, but perhaps “in a corporate role,” he said. He could envision himself as a financial analyst for one of the equipment or management companies.