Working at a private golf club in Carson City wasn’t the right fit for Ryan Livermore. The clientele were finicky, and he found himself not looking forward to his day.
Good thing for him he was able to plug into multiple internships and build a strong network during his time in UNLV’s professional golf management program.
After finishing up in northern Nevada, Livermore interned at the Wynn Golf Course, where he discovered he loved working with golfers who took a less intense approach to the game.
When a friend from the golf management program needed help filling some open teaching slots at Topgolf in February 2017, Livermore already knew the hybrid driving range/nightclub was going to be his speed.
“Topgolf is a more lively atmosphere,” Livermore, now the lead instructor the facility, said. “It's fun to teach people who are having a good time. That's how I like to live life. If I'm putting myself in a situation where I'm stressed because people are always complaining about course conditions, then I might not like my job.”
What started as part-time work during corporate events turned into a full-time position as an instructor after finishing an internship at the facility.
It wasn’t the direction Livermore envisioned during his studies. He wanted to break in on the operational side of the golf course, with an eye on eventually becoming a general manager or head pro. Instruction wasn’t on his mind.
“I kind of looked at it like you're pretty much a doctor of golf. You're trying to fix someone's swing,” he said. “If someone were to come to you and you weren't able to fix the swing, they might blame you. I wasn't sure if I was confident enough in myself to be the instructor I needed to be to teach people.”
Working at Topgolf, Livermore said, changed that. “I knew I had found a home here. I realized I really did enjoy teaching.”
Now he teaches anywhere from five to 10 individual lessons a week, and works multiple corporate events that can be for 50 people up to 3,000 if a company rents out the whole facility.
Some groups want Livermore and other instructors to roam around the event, dropping into hitting bays to offer pointers. Others will have the pros set up in one spot so participants can come to one central spot. Either way, it ends with nights where he can work with up to 30 people, where a more traditional pro might work with that many students in a month.
UNLV’s PGM program is one of only 18 in the country accredited by the PGA, and it’s [the only one] integrated into the Harrah College of Hospitality. Its graduates leave with a bachelor’s in hospitality with a concentration in golf management. Livermore believes that affords him room for growth and movement at Topgolf, with its 50 locations worldwide.
“I think the UNLV program a great blend for a major and a concentration,” Livermore said. “If one day I wake up and decide teaching is not for me but I still want to work with Topgolf, it gives me the opportunity as a hospitality major to have that knowledge doing all the food and beverage stuff or step away from teaching and maybe take on more of a managerial role. PGM grads at UNLV who have a hospitality degree have an opportunity to come and fine-tune their trade as managers. Chris [Cain], Kyle [Helms], and Kendall [Murphy] were all amazing instructors. That has a lot to do with it as well.”