Laurel Creek's Kabaso named to PGA LEAD Class of 2020-21

Laurel Creek's Kabaso named to PGA LEAD Class of 2020-21

Vincent Kabaso, a native of Zambia and the first assistant PGA professional at Laurel Creek Country Club in Mount Laurel, has been selected by the PGA of America as one of 15 members of its PGA LEAD class of 2020-21, which is the Association’s leadership development program.

PGA LEAD was created in 2016 to identify, mentor and progress PGA members from diverse backgrounds into volunteer leadership positions in the Association.

“The PGA of America has made meaningful advancements in embracing and leveraging inclusion, and this impressive new class of PGA LEAD members represents a diverse group of individuals who are on a pathway to serve as future golf industry leaders,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley, PGA.

Kabaso, 32, has overcome extremely long odds to become a PGA member. His home country of Zambia, formerly Northern Rhodesia, a land-locked country in Africa, is roughly the same size in area as the State of Texas and has a population of 17 million, but only 25 golf courses. The son of a copper miner, Kabaso showed promise and was a member of Zambia National Team at age 16.

After graduating from high school in 2004, he used a series of grants to study golf and sports science in England and Scotland. He returned to Zambia in 2009 and managed a golf course, later opening the first junior golf academy in his country. He also served as mentor and coach of the Zambia National team in 2010.

Three years later, at age 26, he left Zambia to pursue a dream of becoming a PGA professional by enrolling in the golf management program at Methodist University in North Carolina. While there, Kabaso met his future wife Hannah Dake, an Air Force captain in the field of human resourses. Currently, Hannah is stationed at New Jersey’s McGuire Air Force base, not far from Laurel Creek. The Kabasos has a six-month-old daughter, JoAnna.

Vincent started his journey to PGA membership four years ago while employed at the New Haven Country Club, working in the bag room and mentoring the junior program. On April 2, 2018, he received a letter that informed him he had earned his PGA membership.

“That was the highest point in my career,” he said.

The next highlight came was on Jan. 19, 2019, when Kabaso’s achievements were recognized on the floor of Congress thanks to U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania). Kabaso, at that time, was working as a PGA Assistant Professional at Talamore Country Club in Ambler, Pa. His selection to PGA LEAD also ranks high up on his list.

PGA LEAD was created to establish a group of diverse PGA Members who are prepared to ascend through the volunteer leadership ranks of the Association at the chapter, section and national levels. PGA LEAD also aids in developing PGA Members who have a desire to serve and make an impact on nonprofit boards within the communities where they work and live.

“PGA LEAD is a way for us to connect with PGA leadership as well as giving me an opportunity to develop my own personal leadership skills. It supports me to learn everything I can about leadership. I’m really excited about it. This is the icing on the cake for me,” he said.

Said Laurel Creek general manager Joel Inman: “We’re super excited Vincent was selected for PGA LEAD, but not surprised. It’s validation on his career and well deserved. Vincent is a great individual and a great asset to the club.”

This group of 15 individuals from around the country in the LEAD program will be meeting once per month on a video conference call. At the recent PGA Show, they met with Whaley and will be invited to take part in the PGA annual meeting the next two years.

Kabaso himself has shown leadership skills in authoring a book entitled “How the World Raised Me – My Path to Becoming Zambia’s First PGA Professional” and by creating the Raised By The World Foundation, which connects University of Zambia students to local community schools. 

“One of my goals is to create a talent management company which I can use to help African kids with potential to make it to the PGA tour so, hopefully, through the PGA LEAD program, I can create myself a platform and connection basis to do that.,” he stated

Kabaso accepted the role of first Assistant PGA Professional at Laurel Creek on Feb. 2, 2019, following a six-month stint at Talamore C.C. It was GM Inman who brought Kabaso to Laurel Creek.

“We were looking to round out our staff and came across his resume. He was an easy choice. Vincent is an outstanding young man and he has a great story to tell. I thought he fit in with culture of the club,” said Inman, in his ninth season at Laurel Creek.

“He’s a great add to our staff. He’s very passionate about golf and growing the game. He’s a driven individual, a hard worker and a very dedicated person. 2019 was a great first year with him and we’re excited about another.” 

At Laurel Creek, Kabaso oversees the women’s program, junior golf, and is in charge of outside operations where he supervises and trains outside staff.

“The good thing about membership at Laurel Creek is that they encourage me to play. Every Monday I play in Philadelphia Section PGA assistant tournaments,” said the long-hitting Kabaso. “Laurel Creek is simply the best job I’ve ever had. The leadership at the club has created a great work environment – and it’s a great membership, too.”

His game has been improving as well.  He finished in the top 30 in the section championship and qualified for the Philadelphia Open. He recently returned from Florida where he took part in the PGA Winter Series.

“I also have ambitions to play full time myself and someday play in the PGA Championship,” Kabaso stated. “Career-wise, I would like to move up to become a head PGA professional or obtain a position in golf administration.

“The best thing I like about golf is being of service to the members. As for the kids, I like guiding them on the path to becoming full golfers. I just love everything about golf. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Since the inception of PGA LEAD four years ago, six PGA Professionals in the program have already ascended into Board leadership positions within their PGA Sections, including three currently serving as Section Vice Presidents. In addition, another 15 PGA LEAD alumni serve on PGA of America National Committees.

“Embracing an inclusive development program that intentionally identifies PGA Professionals with strong leadership qualities is helping position our Association’s governance and Membership for future success,” said PGA of America Chief People Officer Sandy Cross. “It’s inspiring to see several PGA LEAD alumni assume vital leadership roles within our Association, and we’re excited to watch this positive trend continue.”

PGA LEAD is a complement to PGA WORKS, a strategic initiative, designed to diversify the golf industry’s workforce. Funded by PGA REACH, the 501(c)(3) charitable foundation of the PGA of America, PGA WORKS leverages fellowships, scholarships, career exploration events, and the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship to inspire and engage talent from diverse backgrounds to pursue key employment positions across the golf industry.

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