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Len Ziehm On Golf

This Illinois PGA pro is also in graduate school at Northwestern

A golf professional’s job is never an easy one. Some inevitably wind up working harder than others, however.

And then there’s Tony Semonick.

Semonick, 28, has worked on head professional Jim Sobb’s staff at Ivanhoe Club since his graduation from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., in 2012. His work days aren’t like any other assistant pros, however. He’s also a college student, and not just at any old school. He’s working on his Masters of Business Administration degree at Northwestern University’s well-respected Kellogg School.

“Ivanhoe gets more time. I’m there six days a week,’’ said Semonick, “but I don’t know anyone else doing something like this.’’

Semonick’s undergraduate degree was in Professional Golf Management, and 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.

Ivnahoe has been a good fit, too. Sobb brought Semonick to Ivanhoe as an intern three months after his graduation from Ferris State and he’s stayed on in an assistant’s role.

Last summer Semonick decided he needed more on the academic side 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 made more sense for me to keep working.’’

During the winter months Semonick spends more time on Northwestern’s campuses in Evanston and downtown Chicago, but he doesn’t avoid either after Ivanhoe members start turning out to play golf in the spring. He takes classes on Mondays, the quietest day of the week at Ivanhoe, and Tuesdays.

Monday is Semonick’s usual day off but his Tuesdays can be killers. 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, changes clothes and catches the 3:18 p.m. train to Chicago. It arrives at 4:30 p.m., and Semonick either takes the two-mile walk to the NU campus or grabs a ride through Uber.

Northwestern provides dinner before Semonick’s three hours of classes 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 projects.

“Jim’s been great, and the hours have been pretty flexible,’’ said Semonick, who 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.

“Probably not,’’ he said. “At first I thought I’d stay in golf, but then I started seeing other opportunities. There are greater opportunities elsewhere.’’

He won’t rule returning to golf, but “in a corporate role,’’ he said. He could envision himself as a financial analyst for one of the equipment or management companies.

Category: Features