Emily Sisson Kelley always dreamed of attending a prominent Midwestern university. However, the Iowa native says she felt overwhelmed when confronted with its larger class sizes. “I believe with a smaller school, there are more opportunities for a student-athlete to stand out. Because of my experience at NSU, I always encourage potential collegiate student-athletes to consider NCAA Division II schools, of course NSU being my first recommendation,” says Kelley.
Kelley (B.S. ’04) learned about NSU viewing the Ping American College Golf Guide. Having spent time in Florida visiting her grandparents, she decided to send her resume and video to NSU. She explains, “I liked the potential of the university. When I came to NSU in 2000 it was just the Parker building, Jamaican Me Crazy, and a few temporary buildings. When I graduated in 2004, so much had changed. Now, I hardly recognize the campus. It’s amazing to see how NSU has developed in such a short amount of time.”
Additionally, “NSU enabled me to be totally involved with my academic and athletic activities while making an impact. Since graduating, I continue to be impressed by the rate at which our university, and my team, has evolved.” She says proudly, “I live vicariously through my teammate (women’s golf head coach) Amanda Brown.” This year, the team won its fourth straight NCAA Division-II championship.
She recalls especially her finance professor, who helped select her undergraduate major. “How many students have the ability to say they had that kind of guidance?” She also took advantage of NSU’s eight week class format. Kelley would find that this decision would soon pay off, and set the course for her career in golf.
She began working part-time at Tournament Players Club (TPC) Heron Bay, which was owned by the PGA TOUR. “It was a great opportunity, which at the time, I don’t think I fully recognized. “ She made contacts in the community who gave her valuable experience as a financial coordinator after college. But, Kelley says “I missed golf. I went back to TPC Heron Bay after just a few short weeks and begged for my part time job back.”
Kelley began to think about the bigger picture. “I wanted to combine my love of golf with my business skills. Through the PGA TOUR, I saw opportunities for me to leverage both.” She would move on from her position at TPC Heron Bay to a sales and marketing position at TPC Eagle Trace, but always had her eye on the prize.
When she had the opportunity and privilege to join the TPC Sawgrass team as Director of Business Development, she made the move from South Florida to Ponte Vedra Beach. In 2011 she transitioned to PGA TOUR Headquarters, where she is currently Senior Manager of Business Development for PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties.
She explains, “I will have been with the PGA TOUR ten years in November. It’s a privilege to be around the game I love. I truly love what I do. It’s rewarding to be able to enjoy what I do and be part of an amazing organization.”
Kelley advises current students and student-athletes, “This will be the best time of your life. The relationships you build now are bonds you will have forever. As a student-athlete, I truly believe you will have an immediate advantage over anyone else when you enter the business world.”