When Matt Reagan (’12) began his work in the golf industry, he soon found himself faced with a problem: the sport wasn’t growing.
A year before graduating from Campbell with a degree in Business Administration & PGA Golf Management and Marketing, Reagan was recruited by faculty member Ryan Dailey to start a Junior Golf Program at Keith Hills Golf Club. While working at Keith Hills, both Reagan and Dailey discovered that it was difficult to introduce young, inexperienced golfers to the sport in a way that was interesting, but also encouraged them to develop a lifelong commitment to the game.
What began as a problem, soon turned into a passion to find a solution. In 2011, Dailey and Reagan, who were still at Keith Hills, began developing a curriculum to engage young golfers and teach them true appreciation and skill for the game.
The results spoke for themselves; In the first three years of the new curriculum, the Junior Golf Program grew to 80 participants who were playing once a week, for 8 months a year. However, attendance dropped in the fourth year of the program, leaving Dailey and Reagan wondering what the problem was, and how to fix it.
After the drop in attendance, Dailey and Reagan embarked on a year long journey to find “the most effective way to get a beginner on the golf course and integrate ‘playing golf’ into the program.” They eventually landed on a teaching method based on getting golf students to shoot an even par (36) for nine holes of the game.
Dailey and Reagan began a company based on their new method, and in 2014, “Operation 36” was created.
Reagan readily admits that the process of starting Operation 36 has not been easy.
“We made the decision in the first couple years of developing the program that we would not take a paycheck… We used 3 years of savings to do that, and we knew it could be a huge risk.”
The risk paid off: 4 years after the creation of the company, Operation 36 has grown to include 11 employees, 460 program locations, and has proved a profitable endeavor with no outside funding. Now that the program has proven its success, Reagan says the company is excited to begin scaling Operation 36 at a faster rate.
In addition to watching the company succeed over time, Reagan also speaks to the joy of using Operation 36 to solve key problems in the golf industry.
“It is really rewarding to see the program giving juniors and adults a streamlined way to become skilled golfers” Reagan explains.
He also credits his time at Campbell University with the education and connections that made Operation 36 possible. His time at Campbell gave him a passion for golf and business, but also introduced him to his future business partner, Ryan Dailey, who was the Assistant Director of the Golf Management Program during Reagan’s time at Campbell.
“You never know what experience or person you meet is going to spark something that could turn into a business partnership that will change your life.” Reagan says. Reagan also met his wife at Burkot Hall his freshman year at Campbell, citing their relationship as “the most valuable think I got out of attending.”
Reagan encourages anyone who has not learned to play golf to check out Operation 36. The program serves adults and children, and are always looking for a chance to teach beginners about the sport.