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GOLFWORKS Intern Don Cervantes Pursues Superintendent Career

ELMSFORD, N.Y. (August 31, 2011) – Don Cervantes of Levittown, N.Y., is an MGA GOLFWORKS intern currently working at Garden City Country Club on Long Island. Last year was his first year in the program, and as a result of his experience, Cervantes discovered he had an interest in golf course maintenance and is pursuing a career as a golf course superintendent.

This fall, Cervantes will matriculate into the State University of New York at Cobleskill to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Turfgrass Management, which is a well-established program with a number of alumni who are superintendents at Met Area courses, including Craig Currier of Glen Oaks, Mark Michaud of Shinnecock Hills, David Pughe of Garden City Golf Club, and Chris Smith of Hudson National.

Cervantes, 18, submitted an application to participate in the MGA’s GOLFWORKS program in the spring of 2010. “I read about it on the MGA’s website,” he said. “Jerry Kapalko”—the MGA GOLFWORKS recruiter for Long Island—“got in touch with me and interviewed me. Then he set up an interview for me at Garden City Country Club.”

The young man’s second interview was a success, and he was hired by Garden City’s superintendent, Russ MacPhail, to work on the club’s maintenance crew. Cervantes began working 40-hour weeks and was required to be at the course by 6:00 a.m. each day, which was a rude awakening for the teenager. “The first week I really hated having to get up that early,” he said.  “My first day it was 98 degrees out and I raked bunkers in the blistering sun, but I stuck to it, committed to it and loved the people I worked with, as well as being on the golf course and around the members.”

Cervantes’s co-workers came from many different backgrounds. “It was interesting to hear about their lives, where they came from and the stories they had to tell,” said Cervantes. “It was very heartwarming and I enjoyed the camaraderie I formed with them. I really respected them and enjoyed the friendships we made, despite language barriers.”

After working on a maintenance staff, Cervantes has a different perspective of golf courses. “I started to notice the ways that people treat golf courses when they’re playing, myself included,” he said. “And I was pretty quick at learning how to fix and maintain the golf course.” Cervantes found his niche while participating in the MGA’s GOLFWORKS student-internship program. He enjoyed his time at Garden City, and as a result of the opportunities the internship provided to him, Cervantes has jumped on a career path to become a superintendent.

Cervantes, a 2011 graduate of Division Avenue High School in Levittown and a member of the school’s varsity golf team, had a nine-hole scoring average of 40.4 this season. He feels like his game has improved since he started working at Garden City. “I feel I became stronger from working every day, so as a result my game got better,” he said. “Garden City allowed me to play on Mondays, which was absolutely awesome, and playing and practicing on their immaculate, quick greens helped to sharpen up my short game.”

Cervantes will bring that improved game with him to SUNY Cobleskill, where in addition to his turf management studies he will be a member of the school’s golf team. “I am so excited to work at Garden City for the summer and head to college as a student-athlete,” he said. His college curriculum will require an internship each summer.

“I’ll probably have two in New York State and two out of state,” said Cervantes. “I’m really hoping to do an internship down south to see how the golf courses are maintained down there, but if I get close to home, I wouldn’t be disappointed because there are some great courses here.”

Thanks to a strong work ethic, an interest in golf and an experience provided by the MGA’s GOLFWORKS program, Cervantes is on track to pursue a career in the golf industry, doing something he enjoys, while being around a game that he loves.


Founded in 1994, the MGA Foundation’s GOLFWORKS program is designed to give its participants—high school aged students—exposure to the many career opportunities within the golf industry by providing meaningful summer work experiences. The young adults who participate in GOLFWORKS complete an internship in an environment that revolves around golf, which in itself can teach the lessons of honor, integrity and tradition and provides an activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. In addition, GOLFWORKS provides a good salary as well as networking opportunities to its interns, and a way for interns to learn the skills necessary to pursue their career interests.