Golf lessons in business school? One SLCC instructor believes it’s just what his students needMay 08, 2023 02:52PM ● By Carl Fauver
In his off-campus time, Ashley Cox occasionally offers golf instruction with the help of simulator equipment. (Ashley Cox)
A candidate to be the next dean of Salt Lake Community College’s Gail Miller School of Business is noodling around an idea you probably wouldn’t expect. Professional Golfers’ Association member Ashley Cox says whether he wins the dean post or not, he plans to advocate a room be made available in SLCC’s business school building to teach golf in a high-tech way.
“Harvard Business School has a golf simulator – why can’t we?” Cox said. “I’d like to create an indoor golf teaching studio in our school of business, because a lot of business deals get made on a golf course. The sport provides four to six hours of very close contact with other players. You can learn a lot about a person – a potential business associate – in that much time.”
Cox brought an unusual background to SLCC when he accepted an assistant professor of marketing position there in January 2016. African American – and born and raised on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast – he was one of only a handful of people of color who took up golf as a youngster. And that was thanks to his grandfather.
The PGA found Cox’s personal story so interesting, the organization posted Ashley’s first-person account on their website. Visit pga.com and search “AC Cox” to check it out.
After just one semester teaching at SLCC, Cox was named chair of the school’s Marketing Department. In the seven years since, he’s worked his way up to Interim Associate Dean – Computer Sciences & Information Systems, in the Gail Miller School of Business. Last fall the Miller Family Foundation made a $10 million donation to structurally renovate the SLCC business building.
“The Miller Family has been so good to SLCC for decades,” Cox added. “I was on the team that selected Jacoby Architects of Salt Lake to design the building changes. Now I’m part of the steering committee to plan the physical changes in more detail.”
Which circles back to a golf teaching studio.
“The PGA used to have an initiative called ‘Golf for Business and Life,’” he explained. “The program focused on teaching students how understanding the game can help in their careers. I also think an in-house golf simulator could be used by SLCC stakeholders.”
In some of the little spare time Cox enjoys, he offers golf lessons at area courses and in teaching studios. A couple of years ago, he also spoke with SLCC Athletic Director Kevin Dustin about possibly assisting the school in forming a golf team. But that conversation came up about a month before COVID-19 hit. The notion has been on the back burner since.
In his online bio, Cox discusses enrolling at Mississippi State University and majoring in Professional Golf Management. He was the program’s first Black graduate and only the second Black PGA Golf Management student to graduate in the entire country.
“Golf has definitely enjoyed some growth among marginalized demographics since then – but not enough,” Cox said. “The ‘Tiger Woods effect’ was real. Tiger’s success brought a lot of new eyes to the sport. He made golf ‘cool.’ But the primary problem remains the same. Golf is expensive. Pricing makes it exclusive, unaffordable to lower income people of all races.”
As a result of those economic challenges, Cox says a lot of promising youth golfers are forced out of the sport at college age.
“I believe PGA Jr. League does an exceptional job introducing kids to the game,” Cox concluded. “My oldest daughter is 9 and she’s now interested in golf. But post-high school graduation, $70 green fees drive a lot of people out of the sport. Whenever I work with young golfers, I always ask them ‘Who are you playing for?’ If they are not intrinsically motivated, they won’t stick with it.”
It’s not yet clear when the SLCC Gail Miller School of Business will name the replacement for its recently retired dean, Dr. Dennis Bromley. Cox is pleased to have his hat in the ring. And his interview may be the only one where the intersection of golf and business is discussed.λ