The Professional Development Award is designed to recognize a Colorado PGA Member for his or her outstanding and continuing contributions in developing and improving educational opportunities for the PGA golf professional. It has recently been renamed from the Horton Smith Award, but its prestige and honor remain the same. This year’s recipient knows educational opportunities extremely well as he is the Program Director of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs PGA Golf Management Program. Congratulations to Mark Bacheldor, PGA!
Bacheldor was raised in Aurora, Colorado, in what he describes as a “very non-golf family.” He found golf in high school on his own after picking up an old bag and some mismatched clubs at Goodwill. He would hit balls into an open field until he would finally get into trouble from the neighbors. He quickly liked the game and was able to make the high school golf team in his junior and senior years.
As he was finishing high school and exploring career paths, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs was just launching the PGA Golf Management Program. He learned about it as a senior, visited the UCCS Campus and was able to join the program in 2004, its second year of existence.
Bacheldor’s final internship of the PGA Program was at the United States Air Force Academy. After graduation in 2008, he continued to work there at the Eisenhower Golf Club for five golf seasons as the Head Golf Professional.
In the fall of 2012, Bacheldor returned to the UCCS PGA Golf Management Program as the Internship Coordinator and became the PGA Golf Management Program Director in 2018. He has been teaching PGA curriculum for more than eight years in the UCCS PGA PGM Program. One impact he has had there is in refining the delivery of material to improve student testing rates. The pass rates have improved from 74% to 90% percent over the past six years. This means that more students are retained in the program, more graduate and more become PGA Members.
Continuing to learn is what Bacheldor does and believes in for himself and others. He completed two certifications in the PGA Certified Program; Golf Operations and Teaching and Coaching. Achieving the highest level of education designation, Bacheldor completed the PGA’s Master Professional Program in 2019. He is the only Teaching and Coaching Master Professional in the Colorado PGA.
In addition to teaching at UCCS, Bacheldor is currently serving on the Colorado PGA Board of Directors, where he is co-chair of the Education Committee. On a national level, he is involved with PGA Golf Management Programs serving as Vice President of the PGA Golf Management Executive Association (PGMEA). This is the compilation of the staffs of the 18 PGA Universities across the country. They address ideas, concerns and thoughts about the PGA University Programs and then collaborate with the PGA of America in those areas.
What does it mean to you to receive the Professional Development Award?
Receiving this award is validation to me that what I am doing to mentor, help and give advice to students has an impact. My biggest focus is to make sure that whatever I do in this world is going to have an impact on other people.
What are the qualities you possess that you believe supported you receiving the Professional Development Award?
I love to mentor people. I love to teach people a way, a path in their life. I love teaching, instructing and guiding, especially as it relates to life. Certainly, as it pertains to golf, but especially in life. I am vested in what people want to do, I want to learn about others and find a way to help them.
What are two tools you use in your professional that help you with your success?
The two tools I would say have helped me are my availability and the example I set. I am always available. The students in the UCCS PGA PGM Program know that about me. They have my contact information and they will always get a reply from me, every day.
I hope that I am modeling the behavior of someone who is successful and of someone they can look to as an example in their career. As students are asking, “How do you set yourself apart from others and how do you distinguish yourself from the next person?”, I show them the answer. I serve on the Colorado PGA Board. I show them to raise their hand to volunteer by volunteering myself. I try to show them selflessness so they can see what it looks like.
As it relates to golf, what is the best piece of advice you have received and what advice would you give to others?
Always be learning. You are never too old to stop learning. That is in golf and life, on the golf course and in the golf profession. Learn about other people and how they operate. Ask yourself how you can be a better person, how you can connect with people better and help people more.
What is your proudest moment as a golf professional?
My proudest moment was becoming a PGA Master Professional in Teaching and Coaching in 2019.
Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
The two things I love to do, in addition to golfing, are hunting and fishing.