Observing Tajma Brown on a golf course, you might think she’d grown up with the game. Whether she’s manning a busy tournament registration desk or updating a scoreboard with her distinctively delicate calligraphy, she looks quite at home on the links. Until a couple of years ago though, golf wasn’t even on her radar.
In fact, growing up in Wilmington, DE Tajma Brown was a voracious reader, and by the time she reached high school, a three-sport athlete. Golf, needless to say, was not one of the three.
Tajma’s sports were track & field, cheerleading, and basketball. When in her junior year, Tajma had the opportunity to become manager of the boy’s varsity and JV basketball teams. She took it, and that’s where her trajectory changed. She quickly realized that the management side of sports was where she wanted to be. So she started looking for schools that had great
management programs and ultimately decided on Hampton University. There she acquired her Bachelor’s degree, and a wealth of pertinent experience, moving on to West Virginia University for her Masters. Along the way, there were sports marketing internships and formative stints with the MBA, MILB and Hampton University’s division I athletics department. This wealth of experience led to Tajma becoming the first PGA Works fellow, and as she told me, “It’s been kind of great.”
The PGA Works fellowship program places college graduates from diverse backgrounds into a PGA Section to gain experience in all facets of the golf industry. Tajma is with the Middle Atlantic section, and when I caught up with her last week, she was in full PGA Jr. League mode; running tournament registration, contacting courses to ensure that everything is good-to-go for the tournaments and preparing to be on-course to manage things at each event.
In the offseason there’s also plenty to do, Tajma told me. That’s when it’s all about preparing schedule upcoming season’s schedule by calling courses to book competition dates. I also schedule and update our social media accounts, and work on foundation fundraising. I use special software to design and execute our promotional posters and flyers. I’ve really built my skill set since I’ve been here. It’s been total immersion, which is great.”
I asked Tajma about some of the misconceptions she had regarding golf prior to beginning her fellowship. There were the classics, “The game seemed slow and boring… and not particularly difficult.” that perception quickly changed with her immersion in the world of junior golf competition, and Tajma now clearly sees the game’s excitement and emotion and acknowledges, “It’s not nearly as easy as it looks.”
Then there was this, “As a kid, I really didn’t think golf was accessible for me, but I’ve learned that with the programs that exist today, it actually is accessible… for almost any kid who’s interested in playing. PGA Jr. League, First Tee, Drive Chip and Putt. These programs and others like them offer all kids the opportunity, at a very low or no cost to learn the game and play it in a fun and empowering setting. The problem is that kids and parents don’t necessarily know about these things and I see it as part of my mission to spread and communicate the accessibility of golf to kids of varying backgrounds, who just haven’t thought about it. People come up to me all the time and ask me about my job. They ask how I got it and how I ended up managing a tournament when I don’t even (yet) play golf and I’m more than excited to tell the story of my studies at Hampton and my trajectory into the PGA Works program. I let people know there are great opportunities in golf beyond actually playing the game.”
Fun fact about Tajma: She’s a published novelist. I’m currently reading her book, “Meant To Be Broken” a love story set in the tumultuous world of … sports marketing. I asked Tajma where she got her passion for reading and literacy, and she declared, “I’m a huge book nerd and reading has always been a priority for me, growing up I used to get into trouble for reading when I was supposed to be sleeping. I’m always in search of the next book to read, I recently discovered a group of independent authors who encouraged me to write my own book. So I published my first novel in August and am now working on my second, which is due out in June.” But Tajma’s taken her passion for reading and literacy further than that. As she explained, “I felt a real need to share my passion for reading, so this past year I did a book drive and rounded up about 100 books from libraries and stores and brought them to a group home where kids don’t always have access to books. It was so satisfying that I plan to do the drive each year from now on.”
So what does the future hold for this dynamic and multifaceted young woman? As Tajma herself put it, “With the PGA Works fellowship and everything surrounding it, I’ve realized I’d like to help to grow this kind of program because programs like this are so important… not just in golf but in every industry… we need to make our workforce and workplaces look the way America does, that’s a big goal of mine. I also hope to continue to grow and build my brand and the PGA Works fellowship is giving me a great way to do that.”
I’m certain we’ll be seeing more of Tajma and I look forward to following her story… in golf and beyond. In the meantime, check out her PGA Works fellowship video. You can even say Jack Nicklaus sent you.
Watch Tajma’s story, and to support @PGAREACH, go to https://t.co/PKCtV4ZOGb. https://t.co/gv0rgFMYoW
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) January 25, 2018
For additional information on the PGA WORKS fellowship,fellowship job opportunities and PGA REACH program, visit pgareach.org