By Brad King
Until recently, Cameron Dinkins had never touched a golf club. “Outside of playing putt-putt,” she says, flashing her effervescent smile.
Nevertheless, during her senior year as an accomplished journalism student at Greensboro’s North Carolina A&T State University, Dinkins attended a career fair at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute.
A lifelong sports junkie planning to pursue the career of her dreams, Dinkins’ goal that afternoon was to meet a wide range of people from across the industry.
So — despite having never played golf — she paid a visit to the PGA of America information booth, where she met with PGA WORKS Program Specialist Rachel Melendez-Mabee.
“We began talking, she took my resume and we just talked about my experiences,” Dinkins said.
After submitting an application and participating in several follow-up interviews, Dinkins became one of 11 people selected from across the country as a 2020 PGA WORKS Fellow.
Established in 2017, the PGA WORKS Fellowship is a grant program facilitating up to 12 months of paid positions for recent college graduates. As part of the mission of PGA WORKS, the Fellows are encouraged to continue their journey into a career in golf following their fellowship.
The primary responsibilities of this year’s class of 11 PGA WORKS Fellows are to support and execute philanthropic initiatives and player development programs for the charitable foundation of their respective PGA Section. This includes assisting with marketing and communications activities, as well as special events for PGA HOPE (“Helping Our Patriots Everywhere”) and junior golf initiatives, such as PGA Jr. League and Drive, Chip & Putt.
Following graduation from North Carolina A&T, the 22-year-old Dinkins now serves as a Fellow for the Gateway PGA Section in St. Louis, where she supports many facets of Section operations, including public relations initiatives, PGA HOPE events, the Section’s Foundation and junior golf programming.
The PGA WORKS Fellowship aspires to be the most valuable entry-level opportunity for individuals from diverse backgrounds to gain experience in all facets of the golf industry. To date, past Fellows have worked at GOLFTEC, The Honda Classic, Westchester Country Club, The First Tee and The Club at the Strand, among others. Additionally, several Fellows have gone on to work full-time in PGA Section offices throughout the country.
“PGA WORKS is a deliberate effort to diversify the golf industry’s workforce so it becomes more reflective of the consumers the golf industry collectively aspires to attract,” Mabee said. “Our mission is to inspire individuals from all backgrounds to pursue the exciting career opportunities the golf business offers.”
“I’m learning something new every day,” Dinkins said. “The PGA WORKS Fellowship has opened my eyes to a whole new industry for me. The fellowship has helped me see who I am, what I like and what I want to do in the future.”
Dinkins likes to quote the late poet, Maya Angelou, who said: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Growing up in Manassas, Va., with a family that both played and deeply loved sports, Dinkins began dreaming about working in the sports media industry when she was just 6 years old — the first time she saw Pam Oliver reporting from the sideline of an NFL game. Dinkins said she couldn’t believe a woman who looked like her was covering something she loved.
After Dinkins enrolled at North Carolina A&T, she quickly made her presence known throughout the Journalism Department by wearing a wide array of hats.
She worked as a contributor and managing copy editor for her school’s student-run newspaper, The A&T Register, covering sports, local news and campus news. She served as president of the student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and also worked as a production assistant intern for Aggie Sports Radio (1230 WFMR), where she had the opportunity to highlight a North Carolina A&T football player of the week.
Outside of school, Dinkins was a contributor to “Truebulll.com,” an online publication started by one of her fellow Aggie classmates. For “Truebulll.com,” she covered various topics such as sports, entertainment and HBCU news.
Equally successful in the classroom, Dinkins made both the Dean’s List and the Chancellor’s List every semester and was inducted to Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society in 2017.
Now, Dinkins is bringing her talent, style and bright-eyed charm to a sport she had never previously played or watched. “In the golf industry, though the PGA is trying really hard to make it diverse, it’s still a work in progress,” she said. “We need more black and brown people, and other minorities to be a part of this industry to make it inclusive and look like the world.
“The program has really allowed me to grow professionally,” she added. “Being that this is my first job out of college, I’ve learned so much about myself and how I work as a professional. I’ve grown so much. I’m excited to see how the next coming months will be. I’m so blessed for this opportunity.”
Despite being a golf novice, Dinkins is looking forward to learning how to play the game. “So far, I’ve played just a little bit, but I really want to expand my skills and play more,” she said. “Being a part of this fellowship was really the first time I’ve immersed myself in the golf industry and learning about the operations of the golf industry, and just learning the game of golf.”
Dinkins hopes her work in golf will ultimately help the game diversify. “That will be why this industry grows, if they continue to get more people who look like the students at Thurgood Marshall College Fund,” she said. “Because these students can really help this industry grow.”