Author preps PGA Golf Management students for trip to St. Andrews

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Memoirs can be insightful and compelling, but often they can also lead to unanswered questions. Rarely do readers get the chance to discover what happened next in the author’s life.

But Penn State PGA Golf Management (PGM) students had a unique opportunity to do just that when the author of an assigned reading paid a visit to their class on Feb. 18.

Oliver “Ollie” Horovitz, author of “An American Caddie in St. Andrews,” visited RPTM 497G Golf Operations Management in Ford Building, where he offered personal insights about his book, growing up, golfing advice, and even a little celebrity gossip.

Horovitz is a Harvard University graduate and the book is an autobiographical depiction of his time in St. Andrews during a one-year break between high school and college, as well as summer breaks during college.

Students are required to read Horovitz’s book and participate in weekly discussions, as well as write an essay about the memoir.

“The book speaks about golf culture in Scotland, the caddie culture at St. Andrews, and life for a young man coming of age in a foreign country,” said co-instructor Brian Soulé. “The book and this discussion are wonderful tools to prepare our students for their international experience.”

The visit by the author of required course material is significant on its own; however, the visit was more meaningful because this particular course includes a one-week experience at St. Andrews, Scotland, over spring break. That means Horovitz had an opportunity to review students’ itinerary and offer advice — from what to expect at various golf courses to key places to stop and see along the way.

Horovitz attended the class after Soulé, on a whim a week prior, sent an email through Horovitz’s website. Soulé assumed Horovitz’s “people,” would reply, but instead Horovitz himself responded and eagerly agreed to speak to Penn State students.

“I was so overjoyed to hear you are reading my book for class and I’m pumped to be here,” Horovitz told the group of 27 students.

Beyond golf and travel tips, Horovitz also provided students with writing advice. During his experience at St. Andrews as a caddie, Horovitz kept a daily journal, noting all of the events of the day. Those notes later became the foundation of his memoir. Today, he still keeps a daily journal.

“Keep a journal when you go to St. Andrews,” he told students. “You’ll look back in 20 years and say ‘that was cool.’ This first trip you’re going on to St. Andrews is going to be epic.”

Students appreciated the opportunity to receive advice from Horovitz.

“I think I speak for everyone when I say we were shocked to see Ollie walk in the room,” said Michael Esworthy, a junior and president of the PGA Golf Management Student Society. “It was so special to hear his stories and experiences while applying for college, attending The University of St. Andrews, and working his way up the ranks as a premier caddie in the ‘shack’ at The Old Course. What impressed me was his interest in our past work experience, where we are from, and if we had any previous caddie experience.”

Jay Buongiorno, who is also enrolled in the course, appreciated hearing Horovitz’s firsthand experiences in Scotland.

“While he gave us valuable local information, such as the most popular restaurants and tourist sites, he also taught us about the Scottish culture,” Buongiorno said. “Ollie taught us important lessons about the Scottish people and how they have the utmost respect for their elders and how almost everyone living in the St. Andrews area has a passion for the game of golf. … Ollie Horovitz confirmed our assumptions of how special it is to be traveling to the birthplace and kingdom of golf.”

Beatrice Smith, a senior in the course, enjoyed the opportunity to ask Horovitz in-depth questions about his book.

“Having Oliver on campus was really exciting,” Smith said. “It was also interesting to get to hear some of the stories he left out of the book, as well as his advice to us when we'll make our trip over to Scotland.”

Other course co-instructors include Golf Teaching and Research Center Director Eric Handley and PGA Golf Management Director Burch Wilkes.

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Last Updated March 11, 2016