When he’s not giving lessons or doing club fittings or working in the Super Shop as an assistant professional at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento, Calvin Carpenter likes to head out to the course, where he can put his cell phone on silent, enjoy the magnificent scenery, and take on the different challenges that each hole presents.
“I’ve always looked at golf as kind of that sacred spot, of just going out and enjoying the weather, the time, the people you’re with, and playing the game,” said Carpenter, a member of the PGA of America and a Class A professional. “I love the game.”
In the last year, Carpenter has been able to carve out some time, getting out with a group of friends once a week and playing golf – a game that he took up when he was ten years old and in elementary school in McFarland, Wisconsin, his hometown.
“I have started to play a lot more in the last year,” he said. “When I was younger, golf was always a great place for me to go and just kind of get your mind off of whatever. It was something you can do outside, it was challenging, and I really enjoyed it. I think that’s why I played as much as I did.”
It’s become a lifetime game for Carpenter, who played on golf teams at McFarland High School, Madison Area Technical College, and the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Wisconsin-Stout is an NCAA Division III school that is a member of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a degree in golf enterprise management in 2013. Carpenter did a summer internship when he was in college at Dove Canyon Golf Club in Trabuco Canyon, CA (Orange County) in 2013.
“I really fell in love with California. I always kind of knew, with that golf enterprise management degree, that I’m going to need to go somewhere I can work all year round,” he said.
Carpenter has been at Haggin Oaks – which features the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course, Arcade Creek Course, Super Shop, driving range, Academy Holes, MacKenzie Putting Course, Player Performance Studio, Shoe Store, Club Performance & Repair Center – since March of 2014. He reached out to Haggin Oaks after obtaining contact information from the PGA of America’s Directory. He said he was contacted by Tom Morton, a PGA member who is with the ownership team at Morton Golf, President of the Morton Golf Foundation, and Vice President of Player Development and the PGA Director of Player Performance for Morton Golf.
“Tom Morton got back to me right away, saying, ‘You worked for Russell Sylte at Dove Canyon. He used to be a teaching professional here at Haggin Oaks. I would love to set up a Skype interview with you.’ I did the Skype interview, and I got offered a job at Haggin Oaks,” said Carpenter, 35.
Carpenter began the PGA Apprentice program shortly after starting at Haggin Oaks.
“What interested me about Haggin was they’re known for fitting and teaching and that whole side of it,” said Carpenter. “Ultimately, I decided, hey, I want to do some more teaching and fitting. Everybody I talked to about Haggin Oaks was like, that place is the spot. “It’s a great place. It was like a blessing.”
Starting out in golf
Carpenter is from McFarland, Wisconsin. It’s near Madison. He was introduced to the game by his dad, Clyde Carpenter, and he played a lot of golf at Stoughton Country Club in Stoughton, WI, where his family had a membership. He played in Wisconsin State Golf Association Junior Tour events.
“I pretty much grew up playing golf. I remember, when I was like 13, 14, before high school, my mom (Cheryl Carpenter) would drop me off in the morning, and my buddies and I would just play golf all day until she picked us up after work,” he said.
Calvin Carpenter played other sports, including soccer, basketball, and baseball. He chose to play one sport going into high school – golf. He also played in a lot of junior events when he was growing up.
“I was like, you know, I love golf,” he said. “It was fun, and I had an interest in golf.”
Carpenter graduated from McFarland High in 2004 and then continued in the game, playing at Madison Area Technical College from 2005-2006. It’s a member of the North Central Community College Conference and National Junior College Athletic Association.
He changed gears, leaving college and going to work full-time for his uncle.
“It’s kind of the interesting part of my story, that brings me into getting to Haggin,” said Carpenter. “I was 24 years old, working in a warehouse. I was playing a lot of golf, recreationally, for fun. Even before I went back to college, to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, I was working in the warehouse. I would go to work super early in the morning, so I could get done early and go play golf. I found that was probably why I enjoyed the game as much as I did. Sometimes it’s like there is no other place I’d rather be than out on the golf course.” “It was around like 2008 and I remember having a conversation with my dad. It was like, hey, if I’m going to go back to school, this is the time in my life. My dad’s like, ‘You know, if you’re going do it, I support you. This is the time; otherwise, you’re going to be working.’
“I wasn’t really loving working in the warehouse, doing that kind of work, and knew that I kind of wanted to do something more with my life. I realized that at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, there was a golf enterprise management degree. One of my buddies from a neighboring town growing up in high school went to that program and graduated. It was a relatively new program, by the time I enrolled. I kind of looked at it like, hey, if I’m going to go back to school, I love golf, I’d love to make a career in golf. This was a good way to do it.”
When he was 25, Carpenter transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, in Menomonie, Wisconsin. He got into the golf enterprise management program and was there from 2011-to 2013.
According to the school’s website, www.uwstout.edu: “UW-Stout’s Bachelor of Science Degree in Golf Enterprise Management (GEM) is the only program of its type to be endorsed by the National Golf Course Owners Association. Our faculty of golf enterprise professionals will prepare you for a rewarding career in golf management and golf-related businesses.”
The website adds:
“You’ll gain a world of experience in the golf field, connecting with golf industry professionals, and gaining hands-on experience through paid internships at top facilities all over the world.
“In addition to world-class internships, you’ll have opportunities to assist with major PGA Tour events. And online course options allow for as little as 21 months on campus, enabling you to begin your career while finishing your degree.”
Carpenter played on the University of Wisconsin-Stout team. During the 2012-13 season, he played in three events during the spring season. He shot 75 during the Loras College Spring Invitational, held at Waveland Golf Course in Des Moines, IA. He also shot 78 at the Blue Devil Invitational against UW-Eau Claire at Trempeauleu Mountain Golf Club in Trempealeau, Wis.
“I did play on the golf team a little bit, but again, not great, or anything crazy. But I really kind of got introduced to the business side of golf and just kind of how to make a career of it,” he said.
He also met his wife, Brett, at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. They each graduated in 2013.
Calvin was named to the Chancellor’s List at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Joining the staff at Haggin Oaks
Carpenter started at Haggin Oaks in March of 2014. As an assistant pro, he works in the Super Shop, handling retail sales, gives lessons, and also does club fittings. Carpenter said he is very proud to be at Haggin Oaks and calls it a very special place.
“The Morton family has been like family. They gave me a shot and brought me in. It’s been a great relationship,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been able to succeed and grow as a golf professional.
“The job opportunity at Haggin Oaks was a blessing for me, to learn more about teaching and fitting. I’ve kind of found that’s my passion – teaching and fitting and working with the player. Haggin Oaks gave me the freedom, to be able to teach and fit.”
Carpenter said he wants to grow as a golf instructor and continue learning about the golf swing, as he helps out his students with their game. “I feel like my philosophy has been pretty much the same over the years. I’ve always kind of tried to make the game fun and easy and nothing crazy technical, and just want the player to get better. Really just kind of want to make sure people enjoy and love the game like I do.”
Becoming a PGA Class A member
Carpenter became a PGA Class A member at the beginning of January after completing his PGA apprenticeship and each level of the program. There are three levels where there is a focus and emphasis on education.
“They give you two years for each level. You have nine years to complete it,” he said.
The program starts with the Playing Ability Test. To pass, you need to attain a target score of over 36 holes in one day.
“I knew that was always a tough part, that if you didn’t have the game, you could spend a lot of time taking the Playing Ability Test, just trying to get into the program,” said Carpenter, who passed on his first attempt.
From there, you advance to taking a golf rules test. Upon completing the PAT and the rules test, you officially start Level 1 of the PGA program, where you are now an apprentice/associate.
Carpenter attended week-long seminars during the program at PGA headquarters’ educational center.
“There’s five different things associated with each level,” he said.
For example, some of the areas that the seminars cover include marketing, merchandising, teaching, club fitting, food and beverage, golf cart maintenance, and turf maintenance.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into completing it. You have got to take tests. Once you passed that level, you can go on to the next level,” he said. “Once you get to the three levels of the PGA, then you become a Class A member.”
Carpenter remembers seeing a slideshow during one of the seminars in Level II of the program, where there were photos of Haggin Oaks Golf Complex during the presentation.
“All of a sudden, I start seeing pictures of Haggin Oaks, which is very renowned for its Super Shop. I remember raising my hand and saying, ‘Hey, I work at Haggin Oaks.’ I remember some of the instructors from Florida were like, ‘That’s one of the best shops in the nation.”
The ownership team at Morton Golf is led by Ken Morton, Sr., a PGA Master Professional and the Chief Executive Officer for Morton Golf LLC. Morton was inducted into the National PGA Hall of Fame in 2005. He is a two-time National PGA Merchandiser of the Year and was honored with the National PGA Professional of the Year award in 1998. Additional honors include the National PGA Junior Golf Leader Award, National PGA Horton Smith Award for PGA Education, and the California Golf Writers Golf Person of the Year Award.
Carpenter said his long-term goal includes being the director of instruction where he is still involved in teaching and then taking on a leadership position at a facility one day.
* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. James, retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor, and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. James was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.