Many young athletes fall in love with the game of golf, but few find a way to turn the game into a career.

That’s been the goal of Zac Specht ever since he joined the boys golf team at Port Charlotte High School eight years ago.

“I played like once or twice a year throughout my life, but I decided to play in high school and that’s where I found out that I really enjoyed the game,” said Specht, who recently became a second assistant pro at Foxfire Country Club in Naples. “I love how hard it is and I know I can always play better.

“From playing in high school I knew I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be as a player, but I knew if I kept playing I’d get better, and I have.”

With the Pirates, Specht developed from one of the team’s smallest players into his now 6-foot-4 frame. Over that time, he competed with his team in the state tournament and eventually became one of Port Charlotte’s top players.

“He was always in the match for us,” Pirates golf coach Rodney Taylor said. “He was that guy who got us over the hump.”

But once Specht graduated high school he had to make a tough choice.

“I had the chance to either play golf in college or go to FGCU and learn how to be a pro,” said Specht, who had an offer to play for Tennessee Wesleyan College. “I knew I wasn’t going to play on the PGA Tour, I mean maybe in the future, but that wasn’t really my goal. So I thought I’d focus on my career and go to school for what I actually wanted to do.”

Once he decided he wasn’t going to play in college, that made the decision simple. FGCU is one of just a few schools in the country that offers a PGA Golf Management major, which immediately drew Specht in.

“The hardest part were the classes themselves,” he said. “But you also do 16 months of internship through the program. So I was working about 45 hours a week while taking the normal five class schedule.”

Specht gave lessons, planned and organized tournaments and learned the ins-and-outs of running a golf club. Along with his coursework and internship, he also had to perform on the course to secure his PGA membership.

Players must score less than 12 over par across 36 holes in order to pass. On his first try, a nervous Specht came in at 18-over. But with a little more practice and calmer nerves, he carded a 9-over 153 to pass by three strokes.

Specht’s career in the game of golf is just beginning. He hopes to one day become a director of golf at a private golf club and he hasn’t entirely ruled out playing professionally in some capacity, either.

“He’s one of those kids who you wish you had a team full of because his passion and interest in the game is so strong,” Taylor said. “It’s tough to get through that challenging program at Florida Gulf Coast. I can see him going on and doing some great things within the game. His passion is there.”

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