Sean Woods grew up in Folsom, a city that is located in Sacramento County, playing on competitive club soccer teams as a midfielder and performing in jazz bands on the guitar. He was also involved in a lot of extra-curricular programs in middle school and high school…
As Woods recalled, there wasn’t a lot of time for golf.
“It was more just on the weekends with my dad, for fun,” he said. “I wasn’t actually super into golf.”
Woods joined the First Tee-Greater Sacramento, an organization that offers programs throughout the year for juniors, ages 3 to 18, and “has positively impacted the young people in our area since 1983,” according to www.firstteesacramento.org.
“I played in the summers a decent amount, with the First Tee (Junior Tour), but that was pretty much the extent of it,” he said.
Woods made a change in his life during his sophomore year at Folsom High School. He stopped playing soccer, as he decided that he wanted to do something in golf, instead, with a focus on playing more.
“I really started working on my game and you know, got to that crazy point of feeling like I was playing every day,” he said. “I really wanted to get better at my game.”
Woods played all four years on the boys golf team at Folsom High, a member of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. He was team captain for three years and as a senior was named to the All-Sierra Foothill League team. It’s one of the top leagues in Northern California, with Del Oro-Loomis, Granite Bay, Grant-Sacramento, Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills, Rocklin and Whitney-Rocklin.
“It seemed like people were starting to talk about what they wanted to do in college,” said Woods, a 2018 Folsom High graduate. “I really thought about it. The person I know that loves his or her job the most is my dad. He absolutely loves being at the golf course all day. And I think I would, too. I found that to be really true so far.
“I notice that he loves his job every day. And I think I can do the same thing.”
Sean Woods is following in his father’s footsteps. Sean’s dad, Mike Woods, a PGA Class A member, is the Vice President, General Manager and PGA Director of Golf at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento. He is also a partner with Morton Golf and the Vice President of the Morton Golf Foundation. He was president of the Sacramento Golf Club from 2010-2018, Tournament Director of the California State Fair Championship from 1998-2008, a member of the Sacramento Golf Council from 1998-2008, and a member of the Poppy Holding Board of Directors from 2017-2018. There is so much that Sean has learned about golf – in particular the game, industry and business – from his dad. He has learned about the importance of communication.
“I haven’t seen someone that can solve a problem as quickly as he can,” Sean Woods, 21, said. “His communication skills are off the charts. Mine are, obviously, nowhere near there. So it’s really good to see how he does it.
“It’s pretty apparent that really good customer service is in his blood. He’s a really good role model for how to deal with hard situations at the golf course.
“Every time I go and work somewhere, it’s another reminder of how much I have learned from him.”
Sean Woods attends college at New Mexico State and as a junior is in the PGA Golf Management Program that is endorsed by the PGA of America. New Mexico State’s PGA Golf Management Program “is one of a limited number of programs fully accredited and endorsed by the PGA,” according to business.nmsu.edu/academics/undergraduate/golf/
“Our 4½-year PGA Golf Management Program leads to a BBA with a major in Marketing and a specialization in Golf Management. We prepare graduates for careers as PGA members at various golf facilities and golf industry positions,” according to the college’s website.
New Mexico State conducts more than 50 PGA Golf Management sanctioned golf tournaments in an academic year, the college reported.
The PGA Golf Management Program at New Mexico State offers about 20 tournaments each semester.
“Along with the course work, students complete 16 months of internship under the supervision of PGA Class A professionals at different golf facilities, which include golf courses, PGA or LPGA headquarters, PGA section offices, and other employment opportunities within the golf industry,” according to business.nmsu.edu/academics/undergraduate/golf/degree-requirements/
Woods plays golf at three different courses close to campus in Las Cruces, New Mexico: NMSU Golf Course, Red Hawk Golf Club, and Sonoma Ranch Golf Course.
“The program leads to a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing and a specialization in golf management. It is one of a limited number of programs in the nation that is fully accredited and endorsed by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America,” according to newscenter.nmsu.edu.
“Every year, here at school, we learn more about facility management and working at clubs,” said Sean Woods. “One of the best courses in the country is at Haggin Oaks, so I’m really proud to be from there.
“Golf is my passion. I love it here. It’s a great program and exciting – studying golf, teaching, coaching. The classes are interesting and fun. If you want to work in the golf industry, this is the spot to go.”
Sean Woods gained a lot of experience at a young age, working at Haggin Oaks, a facility that has two courses, Alister MacKenzie Golf Course and Arcade Creek Course, driving range, Super Shop, Player Performance Studio, Haggin Oaks Academy Holes, and MacKenzie Putting Course.
He has worked at junior camps during the summer and in the Super Shop. Spending all that time at Haggin Oaks gave Woods a conclusive perspective on his life moving forward – he wanted to stay involved in golf.
“I was always having a good time out there,” he said. “Even though I like soccer and I like music, I didn’t quite feel the same way about them.”
He did an internship at The Valley Club in Sun Valley, Idaho, after his freshman year of college.
Earlier this year, he did an internship at Knickerbocker Country Club, located in Tenafly, New Jersey.
“The internships are an important part of the program. That’s where it gets you to learn how to work at a golf course,” he said.
“I have realized that as I keep going through this college program how lucky I am to have grown up around that support system, with my dad and the Mortons at Haggin Oaks. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. The owners at Haggin Oaks definitely gave me a good example. It definitely made me want to do this program. I was glad I made the choice to come out here and I can’t thank all the people at Haggin enough for it.”
Sean Woods played competitive junior golf in Junior Golf Association of Northern California and Junior Tour of Northern California tournaments.
Mike Woods played high school golf in Marin County for Terra Linda-San Rafael.
He attended Sacramento State, graduating in 1992 with a degree in business.
He joined Haggin Oaks in 1990 as a starter. He has worked as an assistant golf pro and as the head golf professional.
He has been the recipient of the NCPGA Horton Smith Award (2004), NCPGA Merchandiser of the Year Award (2007), and PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year Award (2008).
During his career at Haggin Oaks, Woods has managed the Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop sales floor,
golf instruction team, The First Tee programming, golf course maintenance for 36 holes, pro shop and green fee department, tournament department, club repair facility, 24-hour driving range, and golf cart fleet management, according to www.hagginoaks.com.
- Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He 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. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.