East Mississippi Community College students Zachary Mozingo, at left, and Matthew Morse, at far right, are headed to Montana this summer to intern at golf courses there. EMCC Turf Management instructor Danny Smith, center, said students in the program at Lion Hills are in high demand.

April 16, 2018

In early May, East Mississippi Community College students Matthew Morse and Zachary Mozingo will pack their bags for a 28-hour drive to Big Sky, Montana where they will work as paid interns on high-elevation golf courses located in the heart of ski country.

Both students are enrolled at the Lion Hills Center where Morse is studying Landscape Management and Mozingo is working on a degree in Golf and Recreational Turf Management.

While many of his students serve internships at golf courses throughout the Southeast, none have traveled as far as Morse and Mozingo will this summer, EMCC Turf Management instructor Danny Smith said.

“These are my only two students who wanted to branch out so far,” Smith said.

Mozingo will intern at The Yellowstone Club, a private residential club and ski and golf resort near Big Sky where he will work on irrigation systems and apply chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers and nitrogen.

Morse will perform much of the same work 20 minutes away at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin.

The location was no accident.

When the students began looking at internships, they discovered there were more than 100 golf courses offering internships in the U.S., with a few openings at courses in Canada as well.

“The market is wide open for internships and jobs in turf management and once we figured out we could pretty much go anywhere in the 50 states, we started compiling a list,” Mozingo said. “We narrowed it down to internships that provided free housing and some meals on the clock. We didn’t want to waste the money we will be making to pay for housing while we are gone.”

Once Mozingo and Morse narrowed the list down to about 20 openings, they whittled it further by region and then by state before settling on Montana.

“We came to Mr. Smith with about a list of 10 internships and said, ‘OK, let us know what you think,’” Morse said. “He said, ‘Which one do you want?’ The next day he said they wanted to interview us. I was shocked. I thought we would have to apply to multiple places and see what we wound up getting.”

Smith said students in the program are a hot commodity.

“The demand is just growing and growing and growing,” Smith said. “We can’t hardly keep the students here to meet the demand. I just got an email from the athletic director at the University of Arkansas who is looking for a turf supervisor to maintain the football field, baseball field and soccer field. Right now, with the way the market is, we are fresh out of available students.”

Students in Landscape Management learn landscape design; selection and care of plants; installation of irrigation and lighting systems; construction; equipment use and maintenance; and business management, among other things.

Students in Golf and Recreational Turf Management cover many of the same areas, as well as the care of specific grasses, the use of chemical applications and specialized equipment used in turf maintenance.

Morse and Mozingo leave May 5 and will drive separate cars, following each other during the 1,836-mile trip from Starkville, where they reside, to Big Sky. Since they will work at different golf courses, the two will need their own rides for the 30-minute commute from Meadow Village, Montana where they will be staying, to their respective jobs.

Morse said both he and Mozingo were interested in some of the same locations but didn’t expect to get internships at golf courses located so close to each other.      

“We were both looking at similar spots and we came across these two internships,” Morse said. “We applied, interviewed for them and wound up getting accepted,” Morse said.

For information about the Golf and Recreational Turf Management or Landscape Management programs email instructors Danny Smith at dsmith@eastms.edu or Will Arnett at warnett@eastms.edu.