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Helping his hometown make sports history

  • Golf management student Anthony Ward lends a hand to Detroit's 1st PGA TOUR event

    Monday, June 24, 2019

    UMES senior Anthony Ward is proud of his Detroit roots and is in position during summer break to play an important role in helping his hometown stage a history-making sporting event. 

    Ward is completing the final leg of required field experience needed to earn a degree from UMES' PGA golf management program by working as an assistant professional at the Detroit Golf Club, the host venue for the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic. 

    The four-day tournament, which runs June 27 to June 30 and offers $7.3 million in prize money, is the first PGA TOUR event to be played in the Motor City. 

    Among the 156 touring pros Ward looks forward to seeing popular PGA TOUR players Rickie Fowler, two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson, currently among the best men's golfers on the planet. 

    “It hasn't hit me, yet,” Ward said a week before the tournament.  “We're all so busy making sure we have everything in place to be successful, I haven't really had time to think about it.” 

    The tournament in Detroit used to be staged at Congressional Country Club near the nation's capital, and most recently a pretty fair golfer by the name of Tiger Woods was its featured host. 

    Woods isn't in this year's field, but that doesn't dampen Ward's enthusiasm to watch seasoned professionals stage a tournament for some of the world's best male golfers. 

    “My goal is soak in as much information as I can, and learn what it's like to run a PGA tournament,” Ward said.

    “Once it is over,” he said, “I think it will finally hit me that it's going to be great for my career.” 

    Ward said he has an offer from the historic Detroit Golf Club to work there full time once he earns his UMES degree in December. 

    Billy Dillon, UMES' golf management program director, describes Ward with five words: “Anthony is a success story.” 

    “He comes from a low-income area of inner-city Detroit,” Dillon said, adding that “Anthony has persevered.” 

    This past April, Dillon's son Lane had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work as an intern at the 2019 Masters, but he didn't have a hands-on role preparing the revered venue that has played host 83 times to the tournament. 

    Ward, on the other hand, is being counted on to be part of the Detroit Golf Club team to stage an event that organizers, civic leaders and corporate sponsors hope will be the start of a successful run.

    “By working at a top facility in the country,” Dillon said, “Anthony serves as a role model for those coming behind him, and he can mentor those from a similar background who have an interest in following in his footsteps.” 

    It's serendipity not lost on Ward. 

    “Coming back home has been huge for me,” Ward said.  “Being an African-American male and showing kids you can do this is a responsibility I take seriously.”

    Ward was unsure a week ahead of the tournament what tasks he'll be assigned once the pros role into town. 

    “A lot of the tournament details are taken care of by the PGA,” he said. 

    The close-knit cohort of fellow UMES golf management students is aware of Ward's opportunity and those who have reached out have wished him luck and best wishes. 

    “Everybody's happy for me,” Ward said, “and they're looking forward to the tournament knowing I'm here.  When one of us is doing well, everybody is doing well.” 

    Except he's not allowed to procure autographs from Rickie, Bubba and D.J. for UMES classmates. 

    “It wouldn't be professional,” he said with a laugh.