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HRSM master's program grads earn jobs at elite golf club

Posted on: January 14, 2017 

For University of South Carolina recent graduates, 2016 was  a great year full of accomplishments. But for two newly minted College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management alumni, 2017 is looking even better with the beginning of life in the real world working side by side at one of the country’s most exclusive golf clubs.

Stephen Calhoun and Chad Ricks graduated together in December, each earning a master’s degree in sport and entertainment management. They were not roommates at USC, but will be in 2017, as both accepted managerial positions at the Alotian Club in Roland, Arkansas.

Golf Digest ranks the Alotian Club among the country’s 20 best courses, alongside more famous courses like the Augusta National and Pebble Beach, but the Alotian’s relative lack of notoriety is by design.

"There aren't a lot of pictures online,” Ricks said. “They don't do wedding or events. It's just exclusive to the members."

Ricks and Calhoun had heard of the course, but their chance for jobs there came about because, as Calhoun put it, “We were there in the right place at the right time.” Both volunteered in their final semester to help interview USC students interested in working at The Masters. They did not know that the Alotian was looking for good job candidates and had reached out to HRSM professor Catherine Gustafson.

Gustafson and fellow professor Haylee Mercado encouraged Calhoun and Ricks to apply, and the two found that the network of Gamecock alumni extends to the Alotian. Chief Operating Officer Patrick DeLozier and Director of Member Relations Amy Ramage are both USC graduates, and as fate would have it, both were planning to return to Columbia for Homecoming just as the two students were applying.

“They knew we had great students, so they reached out to us first,” Calhoun said. He and Ricks met informally with the two executives at Homecoming and helped lay the foundation for the job interviews which followed.

"Being able to meet with them before I went for an interview was big, just for a comfort factor,” Ricks said. "I kind of took it as a sign that everything fell in place for this opportunity."

Both young men had other opportunities, but their visit to the Alotian sold them. “I never thought of working in Arkansas, but the opportunity was too good to pass up,” Calhoun said.

He advised current USC students to “Keep an open mind. There are great opportunities all over the place.” Ricks agreed, saying he did not focus on a single job as graduate school drew to a close, but rather looked to see what was the best fit.

"I'm glad I chose USC," Ricks said, and Calhoun heartily agreed. Both said the faculty and staff were a huge help, mentioning in particular Tom Regan and Todd Koesters along with Mercado and Gustafson.

Neither graduate has spent time in Arkansas before, but both are eager for the adventure, and happy to be alongside fellow Gamecocks and familiar faces. " I'm ready to get out there into the real world," Ricks said. Both also agreed choosing the right graduate school paved their way.

Calhoun summed it up for both: “USC is just a great place to be.”