Drew Prater, a junior marketing and sports and event management major at the University of Findlay, has always had a special affinity for the game of golf. Playing for what he said “as long as I can remember,” it’s been a regular part of nearly his whole life. But it was a special person who really helped to develop his love for the game. “I credit a lot of my love for golf to my late great uncle who played a lot of golf,” Prater said. “I would go out with him when I was little and play with him and his friends, ‘the old guys.’ Little did I know the game and those I got to know at the golf courses were helping mold me into who I am while also providing me with great opportunities.” One of those great opportunities is a summer internship helping to run the everyday business operations of the Miami Valley Golf Association, an allied association of the USGA.
Prater, from Xenia, Ohio, played many sports at Beavercreek High School, where his father teaches and coaches golf and basketball, but decided early on that he wanted to play college golf. “I wanted to play at a university that not only had a great golf program and opportunities for their athletes, but also one that provided a great education to students who are surrounded by people who invest in them and I could not have found a better fit,” he said. “The involvement and individual care professors at UF put in to each student, I feel has fostered more growth in me than I could’ve imagined.” Prater’s mother is also a teacher, and his brother is a mechanical engineer, so the fact that he was seeking an exceptional education is no surprise. And, with the talent he shares with his family, it’s also not hard to understand why he was offered the summer internship at the MVGA.
Prater cites assistant professor of business and coordinator of undergraduate initiatives, Dr. Scott Grant, Ed.D., with helping him along the way to the internship. “Ever since I’ve been a student at UF, I’ve been fortunate to know Dr. Grant,” Prater said. “Since day one he’s enforced the idea that at the end of the day, it’s not just what you know, but what you’ve done and who you know.” Prater took Grant’s philosophy and applied it during an internship he was involved in after his freshman year. “While I was interning for the Southern Ohio PGA, I got to know the MVGA executive director, Steve Jurick. He’d seen what I was able to do there, and hired me for this one. He’s one of the best executive directors in the country and it is a great opportunity to learn from him every day.”
As for the day-to-day duties of an internship, it’s clear that, for a young man who loves golf—both the game and the business—this one is a perfect fit. A big chunk of Prater’s time is spent hosting various United States Golf Association Qualifiers—tournaments in which players have to do well in order to move on to the official tournaments. Prater, so far, has helped with a U.S. Amateur Qualifier, a U.S. Women’s Amateur Qualifier, and, perhaps most impressive, a qualifier for the U.S. Open, one of the four major tournaments in professional golf. “The U.S. Open Qualifier was a great experience,” Prater said. “I got the chance to host an event where PGA Tour players playing in it expect nothing but the best. That’s what they’re used to every week on the PGA Tour. Some of them, though, were amateurs, still in college, who have dreamed of playing in a U.S. Open, and being a small part of allowing that dream to come true was pretty special to experience.”
Additionally, Prater helps promote the game and the growth of it through initiatives like Drive, Chip and Putt, works on the marketing of the MVGA and the planning and execution of its events and tournaments, website updating, player assistance, scoring, course set up, social media and in many other areas. While it seems like this might be a lot to ask of a summer intern, Prater explained that UF was integral in preparing him to take on all of these assignments and perform them well. “While at UF, opportunities through classes and experiences like The Oiler 10 have allowed me to gain skills that business students at other universities might not traditionally receive. Being able to do these things hopefully gives me an edge down the road,” he said.
Prater said that he is particularly thankful for his various academic, golf and endowment scholarships, all of which allow him to go to school and play the sport he loves in memory and homage to his great uncle. “He had Parkinson’s for many years which got really bad before he passed away when I was in eighth grade,” Prater explained. “But he continued to play the game up until those last few months even if it meant he was only able to hit one golf shot. He’s a big reason the game has a special meaning to me. I have a custom-made ball marker with the UF logo on the top and his initials stamped on the back to remind me of how he enjoyed the game and how he was so positive and happy even with a disease that made doing small tasks difficult at times.”