Michael Smith won a state golf championship at Nease in 2007 and played college golf at James Madison. He now works locally to help aspiring young golfers achieve their goals of advancing their own golfing careers by earning college scholarships as founder and CEO of ForeCollegeGolf.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Ponte Vedra Beach at TPC Sawgrass, which was very fortunate for a kid.
I have a wife now and we have a baby boy on the way and set to be born in the next couple of days.
Most of my family is around Jacksonville, but I also have a little bit of the northeast in me with some ties to New York and with my wife being from Boston.
I went to Nease High School and graduated in 2008 after we won the state champion on the golf team.
Where did the idea for ForeCollegeGolf come from and when did it get started?
My business is very much a niche business, but it helps players through a challenge and obstacle that many just don’t know how to navigate.
I graduated from James Madison in 2013 after having a great experience and a successful career up there.
ForeCollegeGolf came about from a deep-rooted passion in helping people. I have always been one to gather information and not form an opinion until I had all the information, and it all got started in 2014.
We started off really slow with eight to 10 clients a year, but now I’m rocking and rolling with anywhere from 30 to 35 at any given time and 15 to 20 signees from Division I, Division II, Division III and the NAIA levels every year.
I work with a wide range of guys and girls, after making the decision to start working on the female side in 2020 after getting some interest from that side as well.
Have you always had a passion for golf?
I don’t think I’ve always had a passion for golf, but I always enjoyed being outdoors, and still do. I’ve always enjoyed competition and the pressure that it brings.
I played a lot of Y ball and a lot of travel soccer for many years, and my passion for golf came from that deep rooted competitiveness and an urge to be great at something.
Once I turned 13 or 14, I started to play North Florida Junior Tour events and saw myself competing against guys like Tyler McCumber, Julian Suri and Bud Cauley, all of which have tried their hand at the PGA Tour.
Once I knew I could compete with those guys, that’s where my fire was lit.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love having flexibility for one, but I also love being in the golf industry and doing something that I still love doing.
I still love competing, as I played the last two U.S. four-balls and the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Open Sectionals a few times, along with many others state events around here.
I enjoy showing my guys that I can still do it at 32 years old.
Taking a family in and understanding their wants and desires for their kid, and then working hard toward a common goal.
What are some of the aspects that are more challenging?
In the nicest way possible I would say, parents and just the expectations.
Golf’s a game where we can do so much in practice and change things technically with our swing coach, but it doesn’t always result with the proper outcomes.
It’s all about having to navigate those expectations with families, players and even the coaches I work with sometimes.
What are the primary goals/services provided by the business?
Our primary goal is to guide players forward and make them better by allowing families to see the landscape of college golf in a different way that they may not have understood before.
I really set out to make better young men and women in this world. That means self-sufficient, self-confident and self-driven people.
I train my players to be mature with how they are setting up conversations and relationships, just like they would in the real world.
What do you enjoy most about living in the North Florida area?
This is an easy answer. My wife and I love the beach and our pup Luna loves it as well.
We enjoy a lot of time on the water or just sitting at the beach and being close to the water, especially now during the summer.
We live about a half a mile from the beach and my wife, and I love walking to see the sunrise at least two or three times a week.
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t also say that the golf is also really good.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Even with as little of it as there seemingly is these days, I still love practicing my game and still do compete a lot.
I also love hanging out with my buddies. Anything from pickleball to basketball.
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